The Cleveland Browns started the third round of the draft trading back and passing on Wisconsin stud linebacker Zack Baun. That move did not sit well with fans, as the need at linebacker was, and is, still significant. In the end, the Browns drafted Jordan Elliott at No. 88 and received a 2021 third-round pick. To make the deal work, the Browns also threw in this year’s seventh-round pick. What did the Browns get in Jordan Elliott, and what can we expect in 2020?
Why Jordan Elliott?
The answer is value. The Browns front office valued a third-round pick next year and moving back over drafting a linebacker. From the look of it, they value almost anything over a linebacker. The new front office believes that the most critical part of an NFL defense is the defensive line and corners. So to pass on Baun and end up with a talent like Elliott is a huge win. We all know how much this group loves analytics, and Elliot was rated by Pro Football Focus as the 23rd best player in the 2020 draft. He also graded out overall at 92.4, making him the highest-graded interior lineman in the draft per PFF.
As shown in Elliott’s PFF grade above 2019 was an excellent campaign for the young defensive tackle. Elliott would finish the year with 44 total tackles, 8.5 for loss, 2.5 sacks, three passes defended. While those basic stats may not blow you away, here are some that show the high-end potential he brings to the table. Per PFF 91.4, his pass grade is the highest a defensive tackle has graded since 2017. He also had an 18.7 percent pass rush win rate, which places him in the top five over the last five years of players with 250 or more pass-rush snaps. Every other player on that list was drafted in the first round. Elliott has only one full year as a starter under his belt and will need to be coached up, but the talent is there to be an NFL starter.
What to expect in 2020
The Browns currently have Sheldon Richardson, and Larry Ogunjobi cemented in as the starters for the upcoming 2020 season. Andrew Berry then went out and signed former Bengals starter Andrew Billings to a one year deal to create depth. The bulk of the snaps should go to those three players, but Elliott could steal a few in pure pass-rush scenarios. Elliott’s best-case scenario is that he shows he deserves snaps over Billings and see the rotation regularly. It is more likely Joe Woods uses the young lineman to gt after the passer in certain situations, and the Browns develop his technique to take on a more prominent role in year two.
If the Browns get some big production from Elliott this year, it will be a huge bonus. The real test will be 2021 when the Browns may need him to start. With Richardson reaching the point of his contract, he could be cut, Larry Ogunjobi needing an extension, and Billings one year deal coming to an end the Browns will need him to step up. The talent is there, and with a year of NFL experience under his belt, expect Jordan Elliott to have more impact in 2021 than 2020.
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