Cleveland Browns Roster Prediction: Linebacker (6)
The Browns linebacker corps was dealt a huge blow when they lost Mack Wilson to a hyperextended knee. While it hasn’t been said he will miss the whole season, it’s likely he starts the year on the IR with an eye toward a return later in the year.
B.J. Goodson, Sione Takitaki, Jacob Phillips, Malcolm Smith, Willie Harvey, Mack Wilson
No one has stepped up more in Wilson’s absence than B.J. Goodson. A very unheralded signing, Goodson had flown under the radar until recently. Now, he’s suddenly picking off passes and making life difficult on the Cleveland offense. It looks as though he’s going to be the leader of this unit in 2020.
Sione Takitaki and Jacob Phillips will be the No. 2 and No. 3 guys respectively. Both were third-round picks — Takitaki in 2019 and Phillips in 2020 — and came into the NFL with a ton of tackles on their resumes. Takitaki improved as the season went on during his rookie year but don’t be surprised if Phillips passes him up soon.
Malcolm Smith was signed shortly after the Mack Wilson injury. He’s a savvy vet who has a Super Bowl MVP in his back pocket. He spent time with Dallas and Jacksonville last year and while he might not have a ton left in the tank, he provides great experience on a young and raw team.
Cleveland’s LB depth chart is rounded out with 2019 undrafted free agent Willie Harvey and of course, Mack Wilson. Harvey is incredibly talented but being under 6-foot tall might have kept teams away from him in the draft last season. Whenever he gets on the field, he’s always able to perform. Wilson’s timetable to return means he should be on the final roster (not on the PUP which would force him to miss six weeks). Even so, he’s on the end of the depth chart for now since he will be inactive for roughly a month.