With less than a week until training camp opens, we're breaking down the Browns' defensive tackles.
THE DEFENSIVE TACKLES
What we know:
The Browns' interior defensive line is a young but talented bunch tasked with replacing with former first-round pick Danny Shelton, whom Cleveland traded to New England this past spring. A mix of new and familiar faces, the Browns return a starter in Trevon Coley (a former practice squad member who made 15 starts in 2017), a veteran in Jamie Meder (43 games, 16 starts in four seasons), and pair of second-year tackles in Larry Ogunjobi and Caleb Brantley (both are expected to compete for significant playing time). After helping establish Cleveland's run defense as one of the league's top units a year ago, there will be expectations to continue that success in 2018.
How do the Browns replace Shelton? The 12th-overall pick in 2015 was a fixture on Cleveland's defensive line, starting all but three games in three seasons. "Danny's going to be missed. He brought a lot of energy to the room (but) Jamie Meder's fully capable. Larry Ogunjobi is fully capable. Anybody we stick out there," defensive line coach Clyde Simmons said. "One thing we do is a lot of cross-training. It's not just going to be one guy trying to fill Danny's shoes. It's going to be several guys trying to fill them."
How will Ogunjobi and Brantley step up in Year 2? Ogunjobi (a third-round pick with tremendous upside) was regarded as one of the league's top rookie interior defenders, according to Pro Football Focus, and seemed to grow with each passing week. Brantley, meanwhile, was considered a first-round talent coming out of Florida and recorded a sack/fumble recovery in the team's season finale.
Only Coley and Meder (15 starts in 2016) have started at least 15 games in their respective careers. The rest of Cleveland's defensive tackles have combined for two starts.
Says it all:
"All of those guys are playing really well. They are all doing outstanding. The four returners that are in there are doing really well with (DL) Caleb (Brantley) and Larry (Ogunjobi) being the young guys. They will take the next step. (DL) Jamie Meder probably one of the best run players in the National Football League. You saw a little statistic last year. They are doing very well. Caleb and (DL Trevon) Coley are both doing very well in a three-technique position. Some of the new, young guys coming in here are giving them a fight. When you are in no pads right now, they have done a very good job competing and doing their jobs in no pads, but the real test for them is when they put the pads on." — Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams on the progress of Cleveland's DTs
How many were kept at last year's 53-man cutdown? 5