The Dawg Pound
This is in the running for the most improved group on the team. And with Joe Woods' base defense leaning more to a 4-2-5 than a traditional 4-3-4, competition for playing time will be intense, to say the least. But the best way to bring out the best in your players is to dial up the competition. Let's take a look. My guess the first on the field will be 2020 3rd round pick Jacob Phillips and 2021 free agent acquisition Anthony Walker. Phillips had an up and down rookie season in 2020. He battled injuries, but when he was on the field - he showed enough to the Browns that they feel good about selecting him. His natural speed allows him to track down ball carriers going wide before they get to the corner. Film study is great, and gives you the ability to recognize plays. But recognizing plays and being able to do something about them may be two different things. Jacob has an asset that makes the 4-2-5 work......speed. Anthony Walker came to us from Indianapolis. He was a key cog in their highly regarded defense. He has learned well under All Pro Darius Leonard. He will be a key component for us in pre-snap recognition and then locating personnel where they need to be. I see him as being Joe Woods' QB of the defense on the field. That will be a critical component to making this defense successful. Any other player striving to be part of this room better have his chin strap buckled tight when he steps onto the field - because the competition will be ratcheted up until their nuts hurt. Two core reserves will be, the steal of the draft at no. 52 in my opinion, JOK - and fifth round choice Tony Fields. I completely agree with the coaches and players assessment of JOK's skills as "freakish and explosive". We will see how his game translates to the NFL, but I am tempted to add the term "generational" at this point. With NFL base offenses transitioning more and more from a traditional 2 RB, 1 TE, 2 WR set to a single back and multiple receivers, traditional "thumpers" at LB have become somewhat obsolete. Speed cover guys have become the norm. That is also why I am sure the coaches were thrilled they could snag Jeremiah - it allowed them the flexibility to match multiple receiver offenses with a 4-2-5 oe even a 4-1-2-4 defense. Tony Fields' resume is strong. He is fast, and a sure tackler. But I am sure what grabbed Andrew Berry's attention was he was a highly successful LB in the PAC-12 at Arizona, and then in a second Power 5 conference at West Virginia of the Big 12. Tony's best value to the Browns in year one probably will be on special teams. The final two players in the mix, in my opinion, are third year players Sione Takitaki and Mack Wilson. Sione has shown real development as a run stopper, and has has some big interceptions. Mack Wilson is absolutely everything you want in a teammate, but sadly for Mack - the talent around him may just be better, or it could come down to a simple numbers game. I think Mack can play in this league, but it may not be here.