NFL Scouting Combine: Calijah Kancey is the spark the Cleveland Browns defense needs

NFL Combine
NFL Combine / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

They might have to trade up to make it happen but Calijah Kancey could take the Cleveland Browns pass rush to the next level

While it's true the Cleveland Browns need to find a nose tackle this offseason, they actually can use a new 3-tech as well. Taven Bryan, who signed a one-year deal in the 2022 offseason, isn't likely to return after a so-so campaign. Behind him, the options weren't much better.

With that being the case, Calijah Kancey stands out as a player who could provide a much-needed spark on the defensive line.

Measuring in at 6-foot-1 and 281-pounds, Kancey is an undersized defensive tackle but that didn't stop him from putting up some impressive numbers at Pitt. In three years, he had 91 tackles and 16 sacks, with 14.5 of those coming over the past two seasons.

As if his production wasn't enough, Kancey turned heads at the Scouting Combine on Thursday when he ran a blistering 4.67 in the 40-yard dash, which was the fastest time for a defensive tackle since 2006. And it also led to even more comparisons between Kancey and another former Pitt star, Aaron Donald.

Donald and Kancey are nearly identical in their measurables and that could help Kancey go early in the draft. There will be concerns about his size but since Donald turned into one of the best defensive players in the entire NFL, teams will be more willing to roll the dice on Kancey.

Cleveland Browns need a spark plug other than Myles Garrett

Last season, the Browns defensive line struggled to get anything done when Myles Garrett wasn't making a play. This leads to an unfair belief from some fans that Garrett doesn't show up when it counts — when really, the issue is that the offense knows they can find success if they can get away from Garrett.

Adding an explosive player such as Kancey as an interior pass rusher could be exactly what's needed to change that. Opposing quarterbacks that have to step up in the pocket to avoid No. 95 would run into the athletic defensive tackle.

The only downside is that Kancey could do enough in the Combine to make it impossible for Cleveland to sit at No. 42 and wait for him. Instead, they might have to move up but it would be worth it to see the defensive line finally take a step forward.

Ranking the top 5 free agent defensive tackles Browns can target. dark. Next