Editor's Note: Over the next two weeks leading to training camp, Nathan Zegura, Jason Gibbs and Anthony Poisal will be giving their thoughts and predictions on some of the biggest questions surrounding the Browns as they prepare for training camp.
The Browns leaned on several members of their rookie class heavily in 2021 — CB Greg Newsome started 11 games and performed well, LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah showed excellent tackling abilities and instincts, while RB Demetric Felton, OT James Hudson III and WR Anthony Schwartz were all relied on at different points of the year to make plays.
Who among the class will take the biggest leap in 2022?
Nathan Zegura: I am going to take some liberties here (shocking, I know) and go with Grant Delpit. Yes of course Delpit is entering his third season with the Browns, but after missing his entire rookie year with an Achilles injury, this will be his second season on the field for Joe Woods and the Browns Defense. Delpit has absolutely been one of the stars of the offseason thus far as you can see his comfort in this defense as well as his confidence in his playmaking grow every single day. Delpit got his hands on numerous balls during the OTAs and minicamp and according to DB Coach Jeff Howard, Delpit is poised to break out and is already playing at a significantly advanced level. Delpit has tremendous athleticism, smarts and versatility which will free up the Browns to employ their talented safety room in a variety of ways. As the season progressed last year, Delpit's ascension allowed John Johnson to move closer to the line of scrimmage which resulted in more turnovers by the Browns defenses and frankly elite pass defense. From Week 12 on last year, Delpit was the eighth best graded safety in the entire NFL per Pro Football Focus. As far as I am concerned, that is the tip of the iceberg headed into 2022 and at the end of this season, Delpit will be universally regarded as one of the best safeties in the game today.
Jason Gibbs: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. I could have gone with a number of guys here. I think this is the year that Greg Newsome II becomes an elite CB. James Hudson is one of my favorites and I believe in his second year he makes one of the biggest leaps. But in putting this together I have to go JOK to make the biggest jump in year two. The second year LB played in 14 games his rookie season starting 10. If you remember this defense as a whole took a big jump in the back half of the season. I think it all started to come together for JOK both on the field and as a leader of this team. I think he's found his place on this team and with the back end returning and with Garrett and Clowney up front I think JOK is poised to be all over the field making plays in Joe Woods defense this year. The two players to watch as well as the guys above are WR Anthony Schwartz and DT Tommy Togiai. The common cliché is you make your biggest leap from year one to year two. Those two also happen to play the two positions that will be scrutinized the most here in training camp.
Anthony Poisal: Greg Newsome. That first career interception will come sooner rather than later if he plays at an even higher level than he did his rookie year, which was a fine start for the Northwestern product. I think Newsome will snag multiple interceptions this year from the slot, where he's the top candidate to replace since-traded Troy Hill and give the Browns defense a chance to use Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams more frequently on the outside. Newsome was consistent and had a couple huge games last season — like when he recorded three of his nine pass deflections for the year in Week 9 against the Bengals — and will be counted on even more against the best opposing receivers every week.