The Cleveland Browns addressed the defensive line with their first two picks in the 2011 NFL Draft: tackle Phil Taylor and end
Sheard led the Browns with 8.5 sacks and five forced fumbles. He posted the second-most sacks by a Browns rookie -- second only to former Cleveland linebacker Kamerion Wimbley’s 11.0 in 2006. Sheard was third among all NFL rookies and first among first-year defensive linemen in sacks.
Sheard trailed only Baltimore’s Terrell Suggs (seven) and Cliff Avril from Detroit (six) in forced fumbles.
Taylor registered 59 total tackles, 37 solo stops and four sacks for 14.0 lost yards. He also broke up one pass and forced a fumble.
Although Taylor’s first year in the NFL ended successfully, his second season started poorly. During an offseason workout at the Browns’ facility, Taylor was injured while bench-pressing and will miss time as he rehabs from his surgery which repaired the torn pectoral muscle.
While the Browns broke in two rookies on the defensive line, they relied on the experience and consistent work ethic of
Prior to Taylor’s injury, the Browns drafted defensive tackles
“The biggest thing we should be worried about, first and foremost, is getting better every day, coming out here and competing and hitting the playbook,” Winn said during the offseason program. “Those are our major concerns. It’s not necessarily show; those are things that need to be done on a daily basis out here. It shouldn’t be one of those things that happens because you have an occurrence come up, but those things are done day-in, day-out and are part of your job.”
Taylor and Sheard paid immediate dividends in helping the Browns improve their pass rush and were the first tandem of rookie defensive linemen in the NFL since 1992 to start each of the team’s 16 games.
Taylor and Sheard, much like the Browns’ defensive back tandem of
Players to Watch:
Rucker and Parker.
Rucker, a 6-foot-3, 280-pound defensive end, is coming off of his best season as a professional. In 16 games with the Bengals last fall, Rucker registered 44 total tackles, including 32 solo stops, 12 assists and four sacks -- all four totals were career highs. He also defended two passes.
In 53 career games, Rucker has made 19 starts. He has registered 105 total tackles, 68 solo stops, 37 assists and seven sacks. Rucker has defended six passes, intercepted another and forced three fumbles.
“I’m adding to an already productive group,” Rucker said. “I’m just excited. Across the board, what we’ve got going, the sky’s the limit for that group. They didn’t get a spring last year and they still finished out 10th overall. Hopefully, I can go in and help and we can get the job done.”
Parker has played in 146 career games and registered 231 tackles, including 185 solo stops and 46 assists, in that time. The Houston native and Oklahoma State University product has registered 36.5 sacks, 24 passes defended and returned his only career interception for a 55-yard touchdown during the 2008 season.
“We are excited about the signing of Juqua,” said Browns head coach Pat Shurmur. “I was with him in Philadelphia and know him well. He is a tough, productive player who will be a great addition to our defense.”
In his career, Parker has registered at least four sacks in six different seasons, including five of the last six years. He played in 12 games and made 10 tackles with 1.5 sacks last fall. Parker’s most productive season as a pass rusher came in 2009, when he registered eight sacks in 16 games with the Eagles.
“Juqua is one of the toughest players I’ve ever been around,” said Browns general manager Tom Heckert. “He performs extremely hard on every play. With the additions of Juqua and Frostee, we have added to the defensive mentality that we are looking for.”