Browns: Denzel Ward/Martin Emerson Jr./Greg Newsome II/Mike Ford/Cameron Mitchell/Kahlef Hailassie
Bengals: Chidobe Awuzie/Cam Taylor-Britt/DJ Turner II/Mike Hilton/DJ Ivey/Jalen Davis
The Bengals lost starter Eli Apple and his 18 passes defensed and two interceptions over the last two years. While not a great corner losing a starter at the position means you are counting on a new face to take over.
That new starter is Cam Tayor-Britt, a second-round draft pick last year, who played well in his 10 games. Mike Hilton has been a solid slot corner for his entire career and will man that role again.
The Browns have the talent at corner and a system that plays to their strengths. Even if Denzel Ward is unable to play, the Browns have Greg Newsome II and Martin Emerson Jr. to hold it down. Andrew Berry has been on point when getting cornerbacks. This brings immediate credibility to grabbing Kahlef Hailassie and drafting Cameron Mitchell.
This for now is even based on the Bengals losing a starter and the Browns change in scheme.
Browns: Grant Delpit/Juan Thornhill/Rodney McLeod/D'Anthony Bell/Ronnie Hickman
Bengals: Nick Scott/Dax Hill/Tycen Anderson/Jordan Battle
The Bengals have revamped the safety room with last year's first-round pick Dax Hill and free agent Nick Scott, previously with the Rams. This room is young, and Nick Scott is not the player that Vonn Bell was. Jessie Bates is one of the better free safeties in the NFL. This unit could surprise, but it could be rough.
The Browns took the opposite route of the Bengals and added veterans Juan Thornhill and Rodney Mcleod. Both have been successful in the NFL, bringing the skills the Browns need. They join Grant Delpit to provide a deep group. The Browns also have the preseason darling and interception machine Ronnie Hickman on the roster.
The edge goes to the Browns here based on talent, as both groups have been overhauled, but the Browns' rebuild looks better.
Based on "paper," the Browns have the overall edge heading into Sunday's opener. As we all know, anything can happen, and the Bengals are still the favorite.
Predicted Score: 35-24 Browns win and Deshaun Watson has a statement game.