Browns regular season awards: Unexpected defender for Rookie of the Year

With the Cleveland Browns likely resting starters in Week 18, let's hand out the team's regular season awards

Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns / Nick Cammett/GettyImages
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Defensive Player of the Year: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB

When the Browns landed Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, he felt like a perfect fit. A hybrid linebacker and safety at Notre Dame, JOK played well in coverage — which was a major issue for them throughout the 2020 campaign — but was also fearless when it came to taking on the ball carrier.

The only real negative surrounding him was his size. At roughly 221 pounds, JOK isn’t built to take on 300-plus-pound offensive linemen. Unfortunately, he had to do this far too much early in his career since Cleveland’s defensive line struggled to occupy blockers. That hasn’t been the case this year thanks to additions such as Dalvin Tomlinson, Maurice Hurst, and Shelby Harris.

While the entire Browns defense has played at a high-level thanks to the improvements up front, no one has been more impactful than Owusu-Koramoah. He’s suddenly free to use his instincts and athleticism and that’s led to his best year as a pro. Entering Week 18, he has a career-high 101 tackles. He’s even recorded 20 tackles for a loss after having just 10 in 2021 and 2022 combined. For good measure, he had the first two interceptions of his career in back-to-back weeks.