Browns defense most upgraded among AFC North competition

We've heard it all before: The Cleveland Browns always win the offseason! But this year the defense has added so much talent that it is difficult for even the most cynical among us to ignore.
Cleveland Browns Offseason Workout
Cleveland Browns Offseason Workout / Nick Cammett/GettyImages
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The Ravens appear to be neglecting defense in 2023

As crazy as it sounds, in the 2023 offseason, the Baltimore Ravens seem to have embarked on a crash program to invest in a deep-strike passing offense, and as a consequence, the defense didn't receive as much attention as usual.

Accordingly, they waved goodbye to DE Calais Campbell (top 20 last season), DE Jason Pierre-Paul (13 starts), DE Justin Houston (top 30 while posting 9.5 sacks), and former All-Pro CB Marcus Peters, who graded as only top 50 last season.

They also traded veteran S Chuck Clark, who had 101 tackles last season and played 100 percent of the defensive snaps, to the New York Jets. CB Rock Ya-Sin was the major defensive acquisition of consequence, while they invested in offense. Or, if you prefer, Ya-Sin is rated at 78 in Madden 24 while Peters rates 85— a valuable starter, but perhaps not an upgrade.

Via the draft, they added Round 3 LB Trenton Simpson from Clemson, Round 4 edge rusher Tavius Robinson from Ole Miss, and Round 5 CB Kyu Blu Kelly from Stanford. We can expect that the Ravens did their usual superior job scouting and will obtain meaningful contributions in their rookie seasons though probably not stardom from the middle rounds.

Thus, since five established players have left the team, and only one veteran joined it, the defense will probably take a step back in 2023 unless they get huge contributions from rookies and undrafted players. They look like this:

Ravens give up: DE Calais Campbell, DE Jason Pierre-Paul, DE Justin Houston, CB Marcus Peters, S Chuck Clark.

Ravens Get: CB Rock Ya-Sin.

Ravens Draft: Round 3 LB Trenton Simpson from Clemson, Round 4 edge rusher Tavius Robinson from Ole Miss and Round 5 CB Kyu Blu Kelly from Stanford

The Ravens defensive line is built around Michael Pierce, a stud nose tackle who would have been rated about fifth in the NFL, had he played enough snaps to qualify. He's flanked by Broderick Washington, Jr (top 30) and Justin Madubuike, who was top 60. Outside linebackers (edge rushers) are Odafe Oweh and Tyus Bowser, both of whom get 75s from Madden 24 (they are considered Edge Defenders by PFF and are only Top 90, so go figure).

Sione Takitaki of the Browns grades as 76 (top 40 as a PFF linebacker) as a point of comparison. This may not make much sense, or perhaps PFF just hates Baltimore. However, while DPD applauds hating the Ravens whether justified or not, as a general observation, Baltimore cannot be that bad if offenses do not score points against them.

ILBs Roquan Smith (top 30) and Patrick Queen (top 40) were both graded top 30 in what was considered down seasons for both. Marcus Williams is a top 20 FS; Kyle Hamilton is a top 5 SS. Geno Stone is top 30, giving them a strong group at safety again this season.

Most of the Ravens' losses were players on the downside of their careers, so it is not necessarily horrible that they did not re-sign these players. However, they did not sign many replacements. We shall see if Round 5 draftee Kyu Blu Kelly can replace two-time All-Pro Marcus Peters.

Maybe the Ravens believe they have young talent on the roster that no one knows about. Or, perhaps they are just throwing money at wide receivers so that they will not have to play defense this season. Good luck with that, guys.