The Cleveland Browns group of linebackers is considered to be the weakest position group on the roster, and it will lead to plenty of competition.
With the Cleveland Browns front office having the roster primarily setup the way they want it to be for training camp, it is clear their glaring weakness on the roster is at the linebacker position. The new regime did not put too much investment in the unit this offseason, with the lone additions being rookie Jacob Phillips and veteran B.J. Goodson.
With the departures of two starting linebackers this offseason (Joe Schobert and Christian Kirksey), there will be a competition for each of the starting linebacker jobs. With new defensive coordinator Joe Woods, he expectation is he will be deploying his base defense frequently, so three linebackers may be on the field often.
After the departure of Schobert, the Browns are going to need to find a new quarterback of the defense. Schobert has been responsible for lining up the defense and making sure each player was in position. In order to do that, Schobert had to have deep knowledge of the defensive scheme.
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Cleveland’s current group of linebackers is incredibly young, and they will be attempting to learn a new defensive scheme without being able to have direct face-to-face interactions with the coaching staff. This could create some problems installing a new defense with a young group of linebackers.
However, the one veteran of the group is Goodson, who the Browns signed to a one-year deal this offseason. Goodson has experience being a starting middle linebacker, as he was the New York Giants starter in 2017, and was also a starting inside linebacker in 2018 in a 3-4 base defense.
With his experience being one of the leaders of a defense, Goodson seems to be the best suited to take over the role as the leader of the Browns defense in 2020.With a condensed offseason, his experience should prove to be beneficial.
Although Mack Wilson appears to have good potential, he had his issues within Steve Wilks’ defense last offseason, often missing assignments. Wilson may have the most potential of the linebackers, the Browns need to be comfortable with their linebacker making sure everyone is setup to execute their assignments.
Although Goodson may have some questions about his coverage abilities, he has been around the NFL long enough to know how to lead a defense. If he can quickly gain comfort in Woods’ scheme, it would make a lot of sense for Goodson to be the leader of Browns defense.
The biggest question about Goodson is if when the Browns play in their sub-packages, will Goodson stay on the field in passing situations? The Browns will need their “quarterback” on the defense to be on the field at all times, so Goodson will have to prove himself in coverage situations.
The Browns will have serious questions about their linebacker group in 2020, and it could create overall issues for the defense. However, if the Browns want to put themselves in best position for success, they may need Goodson to be the leader of the unit.