3 free safeties Cleveland Browns should consider in 2022 NFL Draft
In order to utilize Grant Delpit’s full skill set, the Cleveland Browns need to get a true free safety on the roster. Here are three candidates they should consider in the upcoming NFL draft.
The Cleveland Browns have a hole on their defense that is taking a back seat to their defensive line. The Browns are deficient in one positional group in their secondary; they do not have a true free safety. While their needs along the defensive line may be more pressing, Cleveland still needs to address adding another safety in the upcoming NFL draft.
When the Browns entered 2021, it was assumed that they would rotate one of their three starting quality safeties to patrol the deep third of the field. But when the season started, the only safety that was lining up consistently in the deep third was newly acquired John Johnson III.
After several weeks of disappointing play from Johnson in the role, defensive coordinator Joe Woods shifted his rotation. Johnson was brought back into the role he played with the Rams, being more of a rover and playing closer to the line of scrimmage. Woods began rotating Ronnie Harrison and Grant Delpit in the role of free safety.
However, Harrison proved to be out of position as well for multiple reasons. Harrison does not have the prerequisite top-end speed necessary to not have flawless technique as a free safety, and he takes the bait too often on underneath routes. Teams began focusing on Harrison, knowing that he would take the cheese, and hitting big plays over the top.
Over the course of the season, Delpit adapted well playing to in the deep third. Delpit has the speed, athleticism, and discipline necessary to handle the deep third responsibility, but by pigeonholing him the Browns are not getting the most out of him. For this defense to reach its true potential, Delpit needs to be an x-factor and someone that opposing quarterbacks need to account for.
Delpit is too good of an overall playmaker to keep him locked into a centerfielder role. His ability to blitz and play the role of a dime backer needs to be utilized. Because of Delpit’s varied skillset, the Browns have to find another safety to, at the very least, rotate in as a true free safety.
Richard LeCounte was drafted with the hopes that he could fill the role. LeCounte started off looking like a natural ball hawk in the preseason but was unable to take the momentum into the regular season. The rookie spent the majority of his first campaign in the proverbial doghouse, and it is unknown how the team feels about LeCounte going forward. It is possible LeCounte could make a leap in year two, but it is highly unlikely that the Browns are counting on him to do so.
Here are three free safety candidates the Browns should be considering in rounds three through seven of the upcoming NFL draft.