2020 NFL Draft

Browns 2016 free agency breakdown: LBs and pass rushers

They don't quite garner the same media attention as quarterbacks, but pass rushers, when it comes to how they're coveted by NFL franchises, continue to rise into that stratosphere.

"When you can rush four and get to the quarterback, it makes a big difference because you're dropping another guy in coverage," Browns executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said earlier this week. "You'd love to add a guy that can do that. Again, they're almost like quarterbacks. The guys that can do that don't hit the market. We'll look."

The key, of course, is finding that player in the draft and holding onto him, a philosophy the Browns embrace at all positions. The Broncos are attempting to do just that with Super Bowl MVP Von Miller, who drew even more attention to the importance of the position he dominates.

"Until they change (the rules,)" Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton said, "we will be looking for a guy who can get around the corner and hit the quarterback."

As the Browns prepare for both free agency, which kicks off next Wednesday, and the draft, here's what they'll be working with at inside linebacker and edge rusher.

Who's back? (2015 stats)

Karlos Dansby - 16 games, 108 tackles, 3 INTs, 2 TDs, 2 forced fumbles

Christian Kirksey - 16 games, 53 tackles, 3.5 sacks, forced fumble, fumble recovery

Armonty Bryant - 14 games, 40 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, fumble recovery

Nate Orchard - 15 games, 36 tackles, 3 sacks, INT, forced fumble

Paul Kruger - 16 games, 27 tackles, 2.5 sacks

Barkevious Mingo - 16 games, 18 tackles, INT

Cam Johnson - 1 games, 3 tackles

Departed

N/A

Contract talk

Craig Robertson (unrestricted free agent) - 12 games, 50 tackles, INT, forced fumble, fumble recovery

Tank Carder (unrestricted free agent) - 16 games, 6 tackles

Scott Solomon (restricted free agent) - 2 games, 1 tackle

Rankings of note

Forced fumbles - 6 - T-18th

Opponents 3rd-down conversion rate - 39.9 percent - 20th

Sacks - 29 - 28th

Scoring defense - 27 points per game - 29th

Top LBs and pass rushers available (Rankings from NFL.com's Top 99 free agents)

  1. Bruce Irvin, Seahawks
  1. Danny Trevathan, Broncos
  1. Derrick Johnson, Chiefs
  1. Tamba Hali, Chiefs
  1. Jerrell Freeman, Colts
  1. Aldon Smith, Raiders
  1. Mark Barron, Rams
  1. Nigel Bradham, Bills
  1. Mike Neal, Packers
  1. Junior Galette, Redskins
  1. Dwight Freeney, Cardinals
  1. Stephen Tulloch, Lions
  1. Nick Perry, Packers
  1. Tahir Whitehead, Lions
  1. Zach Brown, Titans
  1. James Laurinaitis, Rams
  1. Rolando McClain, Cowboys

What about the draft?

Starting with Joey Bosa, a potential No. 1 pick, this year's draft is chock full of difference makers at linebacker and pass rusher. On the inside, UCLA's Myles Jack and Alabama's Reggie Ragland are anticipated to be selected in the top half of the first round. Following Bosa is another Buckeye, Darron Lee, who shined at the NFL Combine. Some possibilities for the Browns if they look to address the position beyond the first round are Boise State's Kamalei Correa, Georgia's Leonard Floyd, Utah State's Kyler Fackrell and USC's Su'a Cravens.

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