The Browns under John Dorsey spent a lot of draft capital to make sure the cornerback room had serious talent. After taking Denzel Ward at number four overall in 2019, Dorsey then took Greedy Williams with his first pick in 2019. Both corners have all the talent in the world but have had flashes of poor play since joining the NFL. Ward less so than Williams, but each will need to fulfill their full potential for the Browns’ defense to be great. With Andrew Berry now in place, how does the rest of the Browns cornerback room shake out?
The Top Four For Now
Denzel Ward, Starting Cornerback
Ward comes into 2020 as the top corner on the roster once again. After a stellar rookie campaign in 2018 Ward followed it up in 2019 with a solid season. His coverage grade per Pro Football Focus went from 83.6 down to 72.7. While this is still a solid coverage grade his poor run stopping means we need him excelling at shutting down his man. Injuries are the only other concern with Ward as both concussions and hamstring problems have cost him seven games in two years. If Ward is healthy he has a chance to make the leap in stardom as a coverage corner in 2020.
Greedy Williams, Starting Cornerback
Williams had a rollercoaster rookie campaign in 2019. He did improve as the year went on but finished the season with a 54.6 grade from PFF. When drafted in 2019, Greedy was known as excellent in coverage but lacked the tackling skills or willingness to get his nose in the run game. During his first year in Cleveland, he was incredibly better holding his own in the run game but struggled in coverage at times. The hope for 2020 is that his coverage skills catch up to his run-stopping ability, and we end up with two top corners manning the outside.
Kevin Johnson, Third Cornerback
Johnson comes to Cleveland after a strong season as the third corner for the Buffalo Bills. He was a strong presence for Buffalo last season as a third corner. He was so good he started pushing for more playing time as the season went on. Johnson also provides veteran depth on special teams after playing 336 snaps in Buffalo. At the same time, Terrence Mitchell will undoubtedly battle for the third corner position. Johnson was brought in by the new regime, so he has an inside track.
Terrance Mitchell, Fourth Cornerback
Mitchell was brought to Cleveland by John Dorsey in 2018 via free agency. In his first season in Cleveland, Mitchell played some of the best football of his career until a broken wrist cost him some games. Mitchell played well when he came back late in the season but never seemed to find the level of play from the first eight games. He will fight to man the third spot, but in the end, this is likely the best spot for him on the roster.
The Cleveland Browns selected Donnie in the seventh round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He spent most of the season on and off the practice squad. It will be a long climb for him to make the roster.
Thomas has played in 29 games over two years for the Browns. All but 20 of his snaps have been on special teams. Special teams could be how he makes the roster in 2020. Anything could happen, but it gives him an inside track.
Olumba comes over after a couple of seasons bouncing from the Cowboys practice squad and active roster. He will likely end up on the practice squad based on his raw skills as a defensive back. Olumba did not start playing in the backfield until college but is 24 and has some tools.
Robert Jackson is a big physical corner that has bounced from practice squad to practice squad since 2018 until the Browns elevated him on September 20, 2019. He would play in six games for the Browns in 2019 without making much of an impression. Will have to fight for a spot.
Undrafted Free Agents
A.J. Green is a player the Browns went hard after as an undrafted free agent. At the time of his signing, he had been given the largest contract this year for an undrafted free agent. The young man has stated he is coming to Cleveland with a mountain on his shoulder after doing undrafted. The front office wanted him, he has talent, and he wants to prove something to every other team in the NFL. All of that could end up getting him on the roster game one.
Houston signed with the Browns out of Baylor. In his senior season at Baylor, he finished the year with 34 total tackles, eight passes defended, and one interception. He is a stout corner at 5’11’ and 200 pounds, and per scouting reports runs a 4.5-4.6 in the 40. He is another long shot at making the roster but was signed by this front office, he will be given every chance.
All Browns Roster Breakdowns:
- Running Back
- Wide receiver
- Tight End
- Offensive Line
- Defensive Line
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