Welcome back to the eighth installment of the series. I am taking a deep dive into the Browns roster and how they can best fill the holes in their roster. Every few days I will be releasing a different position room.
For every position room, I have outlined how the NFL structures that position on the roster. The players we have in four categories: starter, rotation (play some snaps), depth (injury backup/special teams), and other (likely cut). Then I will lay out the options currently on the roster, available in FA as well as via the draft for all 53 spots.
The average NFL team has 9.1 DLs on their roster. The interior defensive line room should contain four players. You have your two starters playing around 60% of snaps, similar to the starters at the edge. Then two backups who play 33% each. Deciding which player is a 1T & a 3T I found by far the hardest piece, bare with me if there was one or two that jumped into the wrong list based on the scheme. Your 1T is the bigger player shading the center and the 3T is your more pass rusher who shades the outside shoulder of the guard.
Starting 1T: Andrew Billings
Roster – Billings was set to be a key piece of the Browns defensive line last season, this means he is coming back in for the 2021 season with a fully guaranteed deal.
Starting 3T: ?
Roster – Sheldon Richardson was okay last season but that isn’t good enough to justify the $12m option they have on him for the 2021 season. They could look to try and reneogtiate this down to the $9-10m range but I feel a fresh face would be a better direction.
FA – Based on the names available in free agency, Shelby Harris is by far the most talented. If he isn’t re-signed by the Broncos and they decide to invest in the position again then he is the perfect candidate. Two more names that didn’t produce much above average during the 2020 season but would be cheaper are Ndamukong Suh and Sheldon Rankins. Both can work as a nice bridge to see what they can find in the draft.
Draft – While the Browns would like to bring in a starter for this position on day two of the draft it seems like there isn’t the talent in this draft to make that a reality for week one. This means they likely go a different direction for their 2021 starter.
Rotational 1T: Jordan Elliott
Roster – Elliott had a great start to the season but struggled down the stretch. Where he was a third-round pick I would expect him to be back next season playing 15-20 snaps a game. Hopefully, he can grow into the role and potentially step up to be the starter when Billings’ contract expires next offseason.
FA – Vincent Taylor was with the Browns last year but has declined in each of the last three years since he entered the league. I think they decide to go with the upside of Elliott rather than extending Taylor.
Rotational 3T: ?
FA – The Browns could look to bring back Larry Ogunjobi but since his play has deteriorated in every season since he joined the league I can’t see them doing that. Here is a list of interior defenders available in free agency, not all will fit the role of 3 technique but they could offer different options to the team, Austin Johnson, Abry Jones, Roy Robertson-Harris, Derek Wolfe, Tyson Alualu, Mike Pennel, Brent Urban, and Chris Wormley. A free agent added to this roster spot only makes sense if they plan to draft someone day two as a starter.
Draft – While there might not be a week one starter they see in the draft at interior defender I would be shocked if they don’t use a draft pick somewhere to bring in a player capable of taking that role in the next one to two years. It is essential for good teams to draft for the future so don’t be surprised to see a player even drafted as high as round two pencilled into a rotation spot.
Check back Friday for the Linebacker deep dive.
Any questions, feel free to hit me up on Twitter @JackDuffin. The DMs are open for any salary cap/roster construction questions you have.