Breaking down the Browns' 2017 season, position by position. Today we’re looking at Cleveland’s defensive line.*
By the numbers:
Myles Garrett — 11 games, 9 starts; 31 tackles, 7 sacks, 1 FF
Emmanuel Ogbah — 10 games, 10 starts; 29 tackles, 4 sacks, 2 FF
Trevon Coley — 15 games, 15 starts; 41 tackles, 2 sacks
Carl Nassib — 16 games, 12 starts; 32 tackles, 3 sacks
Danny Shelton — 14 games, 13 starts; 33 tackles
Larry Ogunjobi — 14 games, 1 start; 32 tackles, 1 sack
Nate Orchard — 16 games, 1 start; 25 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 FF
Caleb Brantley — 12 games, 1 start; 18 tackles, 2 sacks
Jamie Meder — 10 games, 2 starts; 13 tackles
How was 2017? A young but talented defensive line helped pave the way for one of the league’s best run defense. The Browns finished seventh against the run (97.9 yards per game) and held opponents to 3.35 yards a carry, the second best figure in franchise history and fifth best in the league since 2009.The only time Cleveland did better was in 1954, when it held opposing ground games to 2.82 yards per attempt. That’s a credit to the players in the room, defensive line coach Clyde Simmons and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who made the run defense a priority when he arrived in Cleveland last January.
Reasons to be optimistic? Garrett, the first-overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, led the Browns with seven sacks in just 11 games and flashed the kind of talent that makes Cleveland believe he’ll be a cornerstone player for years to come. (For what it’s worth, Garrett, who missed four games with a high-ankle sprain and another because of a concussion, described his rookie campaign as not up to par by his own standards). The Browns also watched third-round pick Larry Ogunjobi grow into a force on the interior defensive line while former practice squad member Trevon Coley, who secured a starting spot in training camp, led the group with 41 tackles in 14 games. Of course, Cleveland will welcome back second-year end Emmanuel Ogbah, who was on the verge of a breakout campaign season before a season-ending foot injury in November. What might happen this offseason? On paper, the Browns’ defensive line might be one of the team’s deepest positions with a mix of youngsters and veterans. Garrett and Ogbah, who was second on the team with four sacks, could develop into a nice pass rushing duo while Ogunjobi, Coley, Danny Shelton are solid interior players who performed well this past season. In a never-ending search for talent, however, don’t be surprised if Cleveland — owners of five picks in the first two rounds — continues to add to the group.