At long last, training camp has arrived for the Cleveland Browns. A tumultuous offseason has yielded a team that has Browns fans do what they do best: hope. This time of year hope springs eternal for most franchises. The Browns are no different. Even though training camp time is here, the Browns still don’t know who will be under center week 1, week 10, or week 17.
The fate of the 2022 Cleveland Browns relies on more than the Quarterback. I’m going to look at 3 potential breakout players this season and 3 players entering a make or break campaign.
Potential Breakout Players
JOK started 10 games in 2021 as a rookie. He tallied 76 tackles, 49 solo, 1.5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. JOK’s ability to change the game with his speed won’t show up in the box score, but it’s one of his elite abilities. The others being one-on-one tackling and his intelligence. The jump in production from year 1 to year 2 is important in the NFL. Granted, not everyone follows that pattern, but it can be a good indicator of career trajectory. JOK is entering his second year in the same defense, which is unusual for Browns players. Sorry, but it’s true. That will certainly help his development.
I expect JOK to make that jump in year 2. Not that his rookie year was a disappointment, it wasn’t, but he’s too talented to remain stagnant. As is the case with any sport, health is the key. The greatest ability is availability. If JOK is on the field I believe he’ll produce.
As I mentioned above, the best ability is availability and that’s been the issue with Delpit. He’s ultra talented, but had bad luck with a torn Achilles his rookie year. In 2021, Delpit started 7 games, but played in 15. He had 66 tackles, 43 solo. Delpit had 1 INT, 1 forced fumble, 1 sack, and 3 passes defensed. That’s a strong season from Delpit coming off major surgery. I can’t imagine he was 100%. It can take 2 years being removed from major surgery for a player to feel like themselves again.
Delpit is a playmaker, plain and simple. A quarterback has to know where he is on every play. Delpit can be a ballhawk, he can blitz, or fill gaps in the run game. He’s a do-it-all safety. Technically, Delpit is entering his 3rd year, but not really. It’s his second year and I expect the same second year jump for Delpit As I do for JOK. Delpit can be a part of a tremendous secondary with Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome, and John Johnson.
I thought about putting Greg Newsome in this spot, but Newsome was sensational as a rookie and it’s difficult to imagine him making a huge jump. He’s already pretty darn good. If he does make a jump, he’ll be a Pro Bowler.
I went with Nick Harris, who waited behind JC Tretter for an opportunity to start. Harris started 1 game in each of the last 2 seasons. The former 5th round pick out of Washington has filled in at center and guard since being drafted by the Browns.
Harris’ size and mobility is perfect for the Browns’ zone blocking scheme. Harris’ ability to pull and/or get to the second level is very good. I think he’ll feast in this offense and the running game won’t miss a beat with Harris.
Players entering a make or break season
Greedy is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in 2023. His tenure with the Browns has been up and down. The former 2nd round pick out of LSU had a pretty good year in 2021. Williams started 8 games and played in 16 last year. He had 41 tackles, 2 INT, and 10 passes defensed.
Williams has had issues with injuries throughout his career and is now trying to find playing time in a loaded secondary in Cleveland. It seems as if Greedy’s time in Cleveland is winding down, but another good year could cause both sides to revisit contract talks, although I doubt it.
DPJ is entering his third year out of Michigan. He has great size at 6’2″ 200lbs+. He’s looked great in camp the last 2 years, but hasn’t met expectations during the season. Last year DPJ caught 34 passes for 597 yards and 3 touchdowns. It’s not a bad year, but the expectations are higher than his production.
It’s entirely possible DPJ projects to the NFL relative to his draft position in the 6th round. On the surface he has a lot more talent than where he was drafted, but entering his 3rd year, now is the time for DPJ to make his case for playing time. With Amari Cooper locked into the WR1 position and the Browns drafting David Bell, DPJ will be vying for playing time with Anthony Schwartz, Bell, and fellow rookies Isaiah Weston, and Michael Woods.
The Browns have shown they’re going to continue to upgrade positions no matter who is there, so it’s up to DPJ to show the Browns they’ve got a guy they can count on for that WR2 or WR3 position. I honestly don’t know what to expect this season. Of course, a lot will depend in the Browns’ QB situation which is very unsettled right now.
This is more of a numbers game than it is an indictment of Felton as a player. I actually love Felton’s game and how he can contribute to the Browns’ offense. That doesn’t mean the Browns feel the same way. The running back room is loaded with Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, D’Ernest Johnson, John Kelly, and rookie Jerome Ford.
I don’t know where Felton would find snaps. He’s a good receiver and could work in the slot, but there hasn’t been much indication that’s where he’s headed. Granted, the RB room will clear out after this year. Hunt is in the last year of his contract, as is Johnson and the Browns can’t and won’t pay everybody. It’s very possible the Browns’ RB room in 2023 could feature Chubb, Ford, and Felton. Meaning Felton won’t be active much this year, but his time will come in 2023. Training camp just started and there are rumblings of D’Ernest Johnson being traded which could clear dome snaps for Felton. Johnson is the most likely candidate to be dealt in my opinion.
This list certainly doesn’t cover all potential break out players or others in a make or break year. If the Browns are going to compete for a playoff spot or division title they’ll need as many breakout stars as they can get. It won’t be easy no matter what and the QB1 position is in flux right now, which could radically change expectations and opportunities for some of the above players to breakout or not. Either way, the Browns need everyone to step up. The AFC is loaded with talent top to bottom.
The post Cleveland Browns Potential Breakout Players and those Entering a Make or Break Campaign appeared first on NEO Sports Insiders.
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