3 reasons Cleveland Browns defense will be greatly improved in 2021
1. Talent leap
While the Browns sported some talented players in Denzel Ward, Myles Garrett, and Sheldon Richardson in 2020, the roster in 2021 will make it look mundane after the moves he has made so far.
Berry added a top-three safety to the secondary in John Johnson III. All he did in LA over the past four seasons was lead the Rams secondary and never finish below a grade of 80 overall in an entire season per Pro Football Focus.
During his last three seasons in LA, he gave up just five touchdowns in 147 targets per Pro Football Reference. Four of those came back in 2018. He has also been excellent against the run with 105 tackles last year and missed tackle rate of only 7.9 percent.
Johnson can play in the box or on the back end and make a difference. Combine that with Grant Delpi’s return from injury along with Ronnie Harrison, and the safety position is as deep as we have ever seen since 99.
Berry wasn’t done after getting Johnson to help the secondary he would also grab a couple of front seven guys that should help shore up the run game. The first signing would be Anthony Walker from the Colts to take over in the middle for BJ Goodson. Per Darius Leonard and other teammates, the Browns got themselves not only a solid player but a legit locker room leader.
He has been a tackling machine missing only 6.1 percent of his 92 tackles last season on the field. However, he is not a guy you want out there in coverage after giving up a quarterback rating over 100 in each of the last three seasons.
Walker brings some intangibles and the hope that he will better fit what the Browns are doing than what the Colts have evolved into since Frank Reich took over.
The other big move is a name everyone knows and is as polarizing a player as there is. Jadeveon Clowney is finally a Cleveland Brown. Andrew Berry chased Clowney last season, reportedly offering the most significant contract out there but was never taken seriously.
Maybe he should have talked his agent into letting him visit last year. Now he is on a $10 million deal trying to rebuild his value after injuries and sluggish play in Tennessee.
For Cleveland, this could be great as Clowney should be highly motivated to get paid next year. If healthy and motivated, he brings elite run defense and above-average pass rush ability. In addition, Clowney and Myles Garrett have a chance to be extraordinary together.
Starting with Greg Newsome out of Northwestern to help bolster the cornerback room, the Browns added great speed and talent via the draft to a defense that needed both. They followed up Newsome with who could end up the steal of the draft in Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah out of Notre Dame.
He only brings elite speed and instincts to the middle of the Browns defense. Combine those two guys with highly graded picks in Tommy Togiai and Tony Fields II, and this defense now has some big-time speed and power.
Andrew Berry has given Joe Woods the tools to succeed. As a result, Browns fans should expect to see one of the top defenses in the NFL in 2021.