How can Cleveland Browns replace Jabrill Peppers?
The Cleveland Browns have made a lot of great moves this season, but one player who was traded away won’t be too easy to replace in 2019
We are all excited to watch Odell Beckham, Jr. and Baker Mayfield light up the scoreboard but what about the players traded to his old team? That would be guard Kevin Zeitler and safety Jabrill Peppers.
Seventh-year veteran Eric Kush is expected to replace Zeitler, he has something to prove because he has never been a full-time starter in the NFL. The offensive line as a whole might be the most questionable unit. But Peppers may be the harder player to replace.
Peppers was the 25th overall pick in 2017 out of Michigan and started all 29 games he was active. He recorded 134 tackles, two interceptions, eight pass breakups and four fumble recoveries in his seasons in Cleveland.
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He was a good tackler and was effective at coming up stopping the run. He left something to be desired in pass coverage but he was improving and was dangerous with the ball in his hands.
Cornerback is solid with Denzel Ward, Terrence Mitchell and this year’s second-round pick Greedy Williams. Safety is more questionable and where the loss of Peppers could really show.
Damarious Randall will start at free safety, he is a converted corner with good ball skills. 10 year veteran Morgan Burnett will be asked to step into Peppers place.
Burnett spent his first eight years with the Green Bay Packers and signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers in free agency last year. He asked the team for a release this offseason because he was unhappy with his role.
He only started two of 11 games he was active and was used mostly as a linebacker in dime coverage. He made 30 tackles and had six pass breakups.
He has shown the ability to be a full-time starter in Green Bay but his situation last year makes you question what you will get from him. If he can’t hang on to the starting job the likely next man up is Jermaine Whitehead.
Whitehead, undrafted in 2015 from Auburn, signed with the Browns for the last seven games of last season after being released by the Packers. He mostly appeared on special teams and made only two tackles.
Neither Burnett or Whitehead provide a quality replacement for a rising talent like Jabrill Peppers and this only Damarious Randall’s second season playing safety.
The offensive line probably has the most questions to answer but the secondary is right behind them. They do have something working in their favor and that is one of the best defensive lines in the NFL.
The other player acquired in the Beckham trade was defensive end, Olivier Vernon. He had seven sacks and 21 quarterback hits last year for the Giants. The Browns also signed former pro bowl defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson in free agency.
Add those two to Myles Garrett and Larry Ogunjobi and they combined for 30 sacks last year.
A good pass rush helps a secondary tremendously because they don’t have to cover for as long.
We all expect the Browns offense to score a lot of points with all of their talent so this defense should not be called on to pitch any shutouts.
But if this secondary is able to step and make plays off that pass rush this defense has a chance to be one of the best in the league.