3 Cleveland Browns players who could emerge as alphas in 2021
By Sam Penix
Three Cleveland Browns players who could become stars this season
If the Cleveland Browns want to win the Super Bowl in 2021, they’ll need some guys to step in in a big way. Here are three players who are poised to take the next step to stardom.
3. S Ronnie Harrison Jr.
The Browns safety room in 2020 was projected to be rather thin. And then-rookie Grant Delpit tore his Achilles. Needing a warm body, general manager Andrew Berry sent the 2021 fifth-round pick acquired for bust offensive lineman Austin Corbett to the Jacksonville Jaguars for Ronnie Harrison, who was heading into his third campaign.
Despite subpar play ahead of him, Harrison logged only 25 defensive snaps over the first four games of the season. After that, he was one of the team’s most important defenders, providing very good play for a secondary that desperately needed it.
Harrison provides a good combination of instincts and physical tools, and he has a very versatile skillset, one that should be taken better advantage of in 2021 with more talent around him. He just turned 24 years old in April and is entering the final year of his rookie deal, so he’s got a lot of money at stake this year. It’s entirely possible that he plays well enough to price himself out of Cleveland’s range, as ideally John Johnson III and Delpit are the two starting safeties.
However, defensive coordinator Joe Woods likes to play with five or more defensive backs more than he uses three linebackers, so the third safety spot is essentially a starting position. Harrison’s ability to fill multiple roles — deep free, box, blitz, two-high, slot, etc. — makes him an ideal part of this secondary long-term. If he can stay healthy this season, he should be a breakout star, able to thrive in this system with the talent added at other spots.