The Cleveland Browns are all of a sudden stacked in the secondary. With so many options, here’s how the depth chart should shake out.
The Cleveland Browns secondary was one of the team’s biggest weaknesses. in 2018.
General manager John Dorsey made it his mission to upgrade the defensive backfield, not wasting any time in making changes.
As the Browns prepare to head into Training Camp, the position group has an entirely different look.
There are many quality players currently on the roster, but only a limited number of spots.
How will the depth chart look once the regular season begins?
McCourty was one of the NFL’s best corners early last year, and although his play tailed off towards the end of the season, he was still a very solid option. But he will turn 31 before the 2018 season, and fits more as a No. 2 CB at this point in his career, which he will have the opportunity to be in New England.
Acquired in a seventh-round pick swap during the 2016 draft, Taylor had a great 2016 season with the Browns as their slot cornerback, but struggled outside in 2017. The main reason why he moved to the outside wasn’t that his performance had dropped there, but rather that Cleveland had found an even better slot CB.
Briean Boddy-Calhoun was signed by the Browns as an undrafted free agent, after being released by the Jacksonville Jaguars. In a platoon role in 2016, he had three interceptions and played very well. He won the starting slot job in 2017, and his targets dropped dramatically, as opposing quarterbacks were wary of throwing his way. When they did, things didn’t go so well for them.
2. There are reports that Boddy-Calhoun could become Cleveland’s backup free safety. He would presumably be playing behind Damarious Randall, who was acquired in the offseason in a trade for QB DeShone Kizer. Randall was a first-round pick of the Green Bay Packers who, after playing free safety in college, played for the Packers, and never lived up to his day one selection. The Browns hope that he can reach his potential by playing at his true position once again.
What’s keeping Boddy-Calhoun from starting, though?
Follow the money.
The Browns signed former Oakland Raiders CB T.J. Carrie to a four-year $31 million contract.
Carrie played primarily in the slot, just like Boddy-Calhoun. He is regarded as one of the league’s best slot corners, again, just like Boddy-Calhoun. While Training Camp may end up telling a different story, Carrie should get the chance to start considering his contract.
Boddy-Calhoun will be a restricted free agent after the 2018 season, so Carrie is likely to be the Browns’ slot CB of the future, and Boddy-Calhoun will be playing somewhere else in 2019, unless Cleveland views one of them as an ideal No. 2 option on the outside.
3. Speaking of the No. 2 corner, that role is likely to be filled by free agent signing E.J Gaines. Gaines is somewhat injury prone, as he has missed 10 games over the past two seasons, but last year when on the field he was very effective.
Pro Football Focus ranked him as the 13th-best CB in the NFL. Gaines formed a fantastic duo with rookie Tre’Davious White, who quickly became one of the league’s best cover men.
The Browns are hoping that something similar happens this season with Gaines and the fourth overall pick, Denzel Ward, who was the star of minicamp.
At Ohio State, Ward was the definition of a shutdown CB, and his speed, athleticism, and physicality should translate well to the next level. Ward will likely cover the opposing team’s top wide receiver, so he will be challenged right away.