Browns might have witnessed Ronnie Hickman breaking out

It's rare to see a team lose as many starters as the Cleveland Browns have in 2023 but the one silver lining is how many young players are breaking out, including Ronnie Hickman

Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns / Lauren Leigh Bacho/GettyImages

Fighting through adversity has been the theme for the Cleveland Browns this season. One starter after another has gone down but they continue to win with the next man up. The most recent player to step in and deliver was Ronnie Hickman, who started in place of Grant Delpit in Week 15.

Delpit, who just signed a contract extension in Week 14 was injured during that same weekend. He was sent to the IR with several other star players and that put the undrafted free agent from Ohio State in the starting lineup — and he didn't disappoint.

Hickman played nearly every snap and was lined up in the free safety role as well since Juan Thornhill was also out. Despite being known as an "in-the-box safety" who struggles in coverage coming out of Ohio State, Hickman was a stud in this role and was the highest-graded rookie in Week 15.

He finished with five tackles and a pass defense, which nearly could have been an interception. On the year, Hickman has now appeared in seven games with two starts. he has 12 tackles and two pass defenses.

Browns will likely keep Ronnie Hickman in a starting role

Cleveland's depth at safety has been impressive with both Hickman and D'Anthony Bell, who recorded the game-sealing pick off Darnell Mooney in Week 15, stepping up. Each will start again in Week 16 with Juan Thornhill set to miss another game.

For years, the Browns have seemed to shy away from Ohio State players. That changed this year with Dawand Jones and Luke Wypler being selected on day three of the NFL Draft. After the draft, both Hickman and fellow safety Tanner McCallister were signed as free agents. All except Jones (who is also on the IR) were active last week and could be once again as they take on the Texans.

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