Skip to main content

Position Previews

Browns 2018 training camp preview: Analyzing the safeties

It's another two-a-day for our training camp position previews, and we're continuing our analysis of the defense with a new-look unit.

The safeties

Damarious Randall
Jabrill Peppers
Derrick Kindred
Briean Boddy-Calhoun
Tigie Sankoh
Montrel Meander
Micah Hannemann
Elijah Campbell
Derron Smith

What we know: The Browns boosted their back end with the addition of Randall, who was acquired from the Packers in a trade at the start of the league year. Randall, who played cornerback for the Packers, had four interceptions in 12 starts last season in Green Bay and 10 interceptions during his three-year career. Randall is poised to be joined by either Peppers, a former first-round pick, or Kindred. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is high on Kindred and he also noted that Peppers' playmaking ability is outstanding. Williams hinted at a competition between the two, and it was already on display throughout OTAs and minicamp, as the pair rotated between the first- and second-team defense. Kindred started 10 games last season and is at his best against the run. Kindred and Boddy-Calhoun provide depth in the secondary, and Boddy-Calhoun is a proven nickel; he had three interceptions as a rookie in 2016.

Biggest question: How will Peppers settle into a new position? Peppers played free safety as a rookie. His focus this year has centered on strong safety, moving him closer to the ball where he played in college rather than 15 or more yards from the line of scrimmage. Williams and assistant defensive backs coach Jarod Kruse think the move will allow Peppers to showcase his play-making ability that he used at Michigan to become a Heisman Trophy finalist. "In this spring, I think that you have seen him closer to the ball a lot more," Kruse said. "Throughout his career coming up, that is where he has been the most comfortable. Last year, he went back there and played free safety because he was the best guy on our roster to do that, and I thought did a really good job in his first year transitioning to that position. He has done some really good things this spring."

X-Factor: Randall's progress at the free safety position will set the tone for the secondary. Randall's three years in Green Bay were spent playing cornerback. He's never played free safety in the NFL, but it's largely considered his natural position; that's where he played at Arizona State. The coaching staff is confident that Randall, a former first-round pick, will undergo a smooth transition. The Browns drafted cornerback Denzel Ward No. 4 overall after Randall was acquired from the Packers in March, and Randall will supply help around the field for the young secondary.

Stat tracker: Randall has 10 career interceptions at cornerback, the most of any Browns defensive back.

Says it all: "That is what he has been his whole life until he got to Green Bay to be honest with you. He has been a free safety. At Arizona State, he was a free safety. I know his college coaches really well. Some of those guys I have worked with. I think that now you are starting to see that he is back to where he is comfortable. Not that he was not at corner but that was not his natural position, I think if you ask him. Our front office guys did a great job in seeing that dynamic and getting him here and giving us a chance to work with him. He is a highly confident guy. I think that going out there and having played corner and in this league at a high level, he understands more things about route splits and spacing and what offenses are doing to try to attack you from a wide receiver standpoint and a coverage standpoint. I think that just blends to his ability to be even better at the free safety position." —Kruse on Randall

How many were kept on last year's 53-man cutdown? 5