Cleveland Browns: Week 1 Predictions Against Pittsburgh Steelers

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 21: DeShone Kizer
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 21: DeShone Kizer /
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2. Jamar Taylor’s debut as new “lockdown” cornerback goes okay

With cornerback Joe Haden out the door and in Pittsburgh, his role of shadowing each team’s primary receiver is now in the hands of Jamar Taylor. Last year was a resurgent season for the former Miami Dolphin, who was traded to the Browns for late-round compensation during the 2016 NFL Draft.

According to Pro Football Focus, Taylor graded out as the No. 17 cornerback last season, with 119 players qualifying for rankings. He was exceptionally good for the Browns last season, especially with Haden dealing with many injuries.

However, Taylor stepping into Haden’s new role means he will likely follow star Steelers receiver Antonio Brown everywhere he goes on the field. This is not an easy task for Taylor, let alone any cornerback in the NFL. Brown’s chemistry with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and pristine route-running skills make him as tough of a guard as anyone in the NFL.

Brown only played in one of the Browns-Steelers matchups last year, catching eight passes for 76 yards. It was actually one of his worst games of the season, but Haden was the cornerback shadowing him during the game. Taylor’s first test of shadowing Brown will be extremely difficult, and he will likely struggle at times. However, as the game progresses, Taylor should be able to play Brown better and limit any significant plays downfield.

It will be a huge test to see if Taylor can step up and be the cornerback who can shadow big name receivers with Haden’s departure. As with most corners, struggles guarding Brown will be there. However, Taylor was simply too good last year to be worse than average against Brown in Week 1.