3 young Cleveland Browns headed for bigger roles in 2023 after first wave of free agency

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Cleveland Browns
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Browns rising star No. 1: Alex Wright, EDGE

The first free agent signing Andrew Berry made this year was met with praise as he added Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, who played for the Houston Texans last season. Okoronkwo began his career with the Los Angeles Rams and even won a Super Bowl with them but truly started to break out with Houston.

He finished with 44 tackles and 5.0 sacks while serving as a rotational rusher — with eight starts in 17 games. But it was his pass-rush win rate that really attracted Cleveland to him. According to Next Gen Stats, he had the third-highest win rate, finishing slightly above Myles Garrett.

As good as Okoronkwo was against the pass, he had issues when it came to run defense. That's why we might see Alex Wright take on more responsibility in year two, even with the arrival of Okoronkwo.

A third-round pick out of UAB, Wright came in with a lot of promise. Listed at 6-foot-7 and 270 pounds, he looked the part of an NFL defensive end but needed time to develop.

He did get plenty of opportunities in 2022 with five starts in 17 appearances. Wright held his own with 28 tackles and used his length to bat down five passes at the line of scrimmage. What he didn't do was record any sacks as he was clearly still working on his technique.

Adding Okoronkwo, instead of going after a high-priced EDGE, is a sign the front office believes Wright can take the next step in his development. If so, he could be used heavily in the rotation, even seeing more time in obvious running situations where his massive frame would help more than Okoronkwo, who stands 6-foot-1 and 253 pounds.

The pairing could be perfect for Cleveland, and would finally give them a three-headed attack with Myles Garrett leading the way.

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