The Browns turned to several young and developing players through different points of the 2021 season, and many of them seized their opportunities to build a strong case for bigger roles in 2022.
We're taking a look at five guys who elevated their stock for next season thanks to some promising moments, big plays and overall growth from last season.
LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
We've given Owusu-Koramoah lots of attention since the season has wound down, but it's impossible to ignore the potential he constantly showed as a rookie.
Despite missing three games, Owusu-Koramoah was still second on the Browns with 76 tackles and totaled four pass breakups, which was tied for second-most on the Browns among non-secondary players. Several of his tackles were of the "hit stick" variety, too, and were made possible through his tremendous speed and instincts, which improved as the season progressed.
Owusu-Koramoah is only 22, yet he already showed he can handle an every-down role and stop some of the top opposing skill position players each week — his Week 12 performance against the Ravens and QB Lamar Jackson was perhaps his best example.
The Browns, who traded up seven spots to grab "JOK" at 52nd overall, were pleased with how he progressed and could be ready to expand his role in Year 2. He only played in more than 90 percent of the snaps in three of his 14 games, but he provided plenty of evidence he'll be able to contribute even more to the defense in coming seasons.
CB Greedy Williams
Williams, a 2019 second-round pick, went from playing zero games in his second NFL season last year to playing in 16 games in 2021, and his work across the year couldn't have been much better.
In his first season since recovering from a year-long shoulder injury, Williams recorded 10 pass breakups — tied for first among all Browns players — and snagged two interceptions and one forced fumble. Williams started eight games and was mainly used as a backup option for CBs Denzel Ward and Greg Newsome II, but he was certainly capable of handling any workload that came his way.
The Browns are set to retain just about everyone in the cornerbacks room, which also includes slot CB Troy Hill and A.J. Green, for next season. The strong year from Williams, however, gave the Browns one of the deepest cornerback rooms in the league and should provide them with even more comfort to give him more playing time.
RB Demetric Felton Jr.
Here's a good Browns trivia question: Who scored the first and last receiving touchdowns of the 2021 season?
It was Felton, the sixth-round draft pick from UCLA. He's listed as a running back but did most of his damage as a wide receiver and caught 18 of 21 targets for 181 yards and two touchdowns — he scored the first in Week 2 and the second in Week 18. As a rusher, Felton carried the ball seven times for 24 yards.
Felton's offensive role, particularly at running back, will be sporadic as long as Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are healthy, but his role in the offense next season could still be elevated. He has a knack for making the first defender or two miss when he has the ball, and that's a trait the Browns won't take for granted regardless of how much competition he'll have for snaps.
S Grant Delpit
One year after missing his entire rookie season with a torn Achilles, Delpit rebounded nicely to play 15 games and finish the year as an every-down player in the secondary. He missed only three defensive snaps in the Browns' final four games and ended the season with 66 tackles, one interception, one sack and three pass breakups.
Delpit was expected to become a versatile defensive weapon after he was drafted in the second round in 2020, and he certainly took a large step toward fulfilling that vision in his first complete season. No achievement for Delpit was bigger, though, than being available for all but two games and finishing the year healthy.
"I feel as healthy as I can be," he said on Jan. 5. "Getting this year under my belt was good for me. The game is slowing down a little bit, so it's going to be a good stepping stone for next year."
Delpit started seven games in 2021 and appears ready for more starts next season. The tall, range-y safety can play all levels in the defense and proved that his development is back where it should be after missing an entire year of football.
DT Tommy Togiai
Togiai, a 2021 fourth-round pick, started his rookie year on a quiet note — he didn't take his first NFL snap until Week 10 — but ended the season as one of the regular pieces of the defensive tackle rotation.
Togiai totaled 16 tackles and a half-sack in six games and played in 42 percent, 37 percent and 63 percent of snaps in the final three games. His five tackles and one pass breakup in Week 16 against Green Bay led all interior defenders and was the kind of the game the Browns hope Togiai can build more frequently in the future, and he'll likely have a chance to compete for a bigger role next year.