The Cleveland Browns head into the 2021 season with one of the more talented rosters in the NFL. They finally found what appears to be their starting quarterback for the foreseeable future; the wide receiver room is stacked; and, through just one player, the edge rushers are fairly well stocked.
Despite that, there are a lot of spots on the depth chart that are still question marks. The Browns have a few key position battles to figure out and make this team as strong as possible.
Browns Key Position Battles
Third Running Back
The Browns have their top two spots at running back set with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, but the third spot is still up for grabs. This position isn’t extremely important but it is key to have someone you trust on the bench and to be a contributor on special teams. D’Ernest Johnson had the spot last year and is the front runner to win it again, but sixth-round pick Demetric Felton is a versatile player who is going to give Johnson a run for his money. Felton could make the team on special teams too but will try and make it as an offensive weapon as well. Undrafted rookie Tre Harbison, from Charlotte, has turned some heads as well but he seems more like a practice squad player for now.
The Browns added a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball, especially at linebacker. They kept six of the same linebackers from last season and added three more key players. It would be tough to imagine all nine making the final roster. Free agency signing Anthony Walker seems like a lock to be a starter, as does second-round pick Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. Outside of those two, it’s anyone’s guess right now who gets snaps. The Browns seem to be high on Jacob Phillips because they used a top 100 pick on him last season. He showed out last season when given a chance.
The other six are probably up for debate. The Browns will probably use more two linebacker sets so it’s hard to see the team keeping more than six total. This battle could be the biggest and most surprising as big-name players could get cut from this group.
With the drafting of Greg Newsome in the first round, the Browns have given themselves a bunch of options to play in the secondary. It seems to be a competition between Newsome and former second-rounder Greedy Williams on the outside. With Williams’s injury last season, and the Browns using a high pick on Newsome it seems to be a wide-open race. I’d give the edge to Newsome because the current regime was more involved in the selection of Newsome. But Williams’s better physical tools could also be in play here; regardless of who “wins” this job.
Both players will see a good amount of snaps this season. And both bring a different set of skills to the table. I expect Newsome to open as the starter but Williams will get his playing time.
I don’t necessarily think it’s gonna be a big battle, but there are a lot of players fighting for snaps on this d-line. It’s a smart guess to assume that the Browns do a large rotation on the defensive line. The biggest battle here is who gets the snaps at what times. The Browns added even more depth to this position and will look to put a strong foot forward. With the additions of Malik Jackson, the return of Andrew Billings and the drafting of Tommy Togiai, the Browns added good depth to a room that needed it, and will have good competition for the spots.
Browns Key Position Battles: Conclusions
It’s important to remember that most of the spots are on defense. The Browns offense is going to run it back this year with most of the same if not all of the same starters we saw last year. It’s the defense where things change. The Browns can potentially have nine new starters on the defensive side of the ball and you could argue that most of them are a position battle but I think these four are going to be the biggest and most important battles heading into the season.
The Browns 53 man roster will be loaded with talent regardless of what happens, and with added depth, the team looks poised to make a run.
Thanks for reading my Top 2021 Browns Position Battles.