Browns Roster: Linebacker (5)
Anthony Walker, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Jacob Phillips, Sione Takitaki, Malcolm Smith
PUP: Tony Fields
Keeping five linebackers might seem a little low, but the Browns aren’t expected to go deep at the position. Defensive coordinator Joe Woods has said he likes to operate in the nickel and dime, which he says helps set the tempo. Even before he made those comments, there was already a strong belief that he would work with a 4-2-5 as his base scheme.
For that reason, they only need a couple of starters and a few guys who can rotate in and out. The starters in this prediction are Anthony Walker and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. Entering their last game, Owusu-Koramoah was listed as third on the depth chart but that’s actually comical. Especially after watching him on the field.
It’s too early to anoint him the star, but he’s also already the best athlete they have in the middle. After him, they have Jacob Phillips who is another young linebacker with a lot to offer. A third-round pick in 2020, Phillips struggled to stay healthy but when he did suit up, his talent was evident. When Cleveland does go with three linebackers, it will probably be Phillips getting the call.
Sione Takitaki and Malcolm Smith round out the depth chart. Takitaki is a much better player than he gets credit for. He doesn’t miss many tackles and he can set the edge in the run game as well. Smith offers a veteran presence who can start in a pinch. He edges out Mack Wilson who has plenty to offer but has struggled with missed tackles and injuries.