3. Chad Thomas, EDGE
This is a surprising entry on this list…sort of. After a dismal rookie year that saw Chad Thomas fail to make any impact whatsoever, the former third-round pick partially redeemed himself in 2020. Due to an injury to Olivier Vernon, Thomas found himself as the starter opposite Myles Garrett.
That is a very advantageous position to find yourself in, as he was the benefactor of Garrett receiving all the double teams and chip blocks from running backs. Unfortunately for Thomas, that only lasted for two games, as Garrett was suspended indefinitely following the may lay against the Pittsburgh Steelers in week 11. It was tougher sledding for the second-year defensive end down the stretch without Garrett lining up on the opposite side.
Thomas did register four sacks in 2019 which is nothing to scoff at. However, when you look at those sacks individually, he lucked into three of them. Being lucky is not a bad thing, but it is also something that you cannot count on.
With Garrett and Vernon both returning and with the free-agent addition of Adrian Clayborn, the Browns have a high-level rotation assuming that health is not an issue. Thomas’ competition is coming from second-year player Porter Gustin. While both players look the part, Gustin is by far the superior athlete and may take reps and possibly a roster spot from Thomas. Also take into consideration, that Richardson could slide over from tackle to fill in at defensive end when called upon and that could play into how many defensive ends the Browns to decide to go with.
If Chad Thomas fails to fend Gustin off, his roster spot may be in jeopardy.