Off-Season Position Analysis

Browns 2019 training camp preview: Analyzing the defensive tackles

Summer vacation keeps on chugging along for the Browns, but we're spending the weeks ahead of training camp preparing for endless sun rays and seas of brown and orange-clad fans as far as the eye can see through our much-needed sunglasses. Can you feel us wishing good weather into existence in Berea? Us neither (don't jinx it).

While we wait for the players to return and the ball boys to roll out the pigskins, we're previewing training camp by looking at each position. Today's group: defensive tackles.

Check out photos of Browns defensive tackles

THE DEFENSIVE TACKLES

Sheldon Richardson

Larry Ogunjobi

Trevon Coley

Brian Price

Carl Davis

Devaroe Lawrence

Daniel Ekuale

What we know: Richardson was a big-time offseason addition for a defense that needed help up the middle against the run and could use an interior force when rushing the passer. Ogunjobi is a defensive tackle who many (including this writer) believe is poised for a breakout season. His teammate, Myles Garrett, agrees, saying earlier this offseason he believes Ogunjobi will join him at the Pro Bowl in early 2020. Coley provides reliable depth at the position and should be in the mix as a rotational player, as should Carl Davis and Brian Price. This should be a stronger group than last season.

What we don't know: How strong is the depth of this group? The two big unknowns are Lawrence and Ekuale, who have a combined total of one game played in their careers. Ekuale spent his entire first season on the practice squad and saw it end via suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. It says something that the Browns kept Ekuale even after his suspension, and he's stood out this offseason. Lawrence was acquired via trade with the Saints on cut-down day at the end of training camp in 2018. His story is one of perseverance, battling through two knee surgeries related to a torn ACL suffered while he was in college to somehow carve out a career in the NFL. But his potential to produce is still unknown. Last year, this team kept four defensive tackles, which is essentially standard for NFL teams. Three of these players won't end up on the 53; we just don't know who those three will be.

The biggest number: 4.7. The best rush defense in the NFL last season allowed 3.8 yards per carry and an average of just 80 yards per game. The Browns finished tied with five other teams in rushing yards per carry allowed last season with 4.7 per tote. Their rushing yards allowed per game was even worse at 135.2 (28th in the NFL). It was no surprise, then, when the team signed Richardson early in free agency to help plug the holes in the rushing defense sieve. That number must come down in 2019 if Cleveland wants to have an effective defense because it has the defensive backs to defend against the pass. They just have to force an opponent to do something other than hand off the ball.

Says it all: "I think Larry has it. It is early. We have no pads on. Larry is doing a tremendous job in really the method in how he practices. I have seen him get better from Day 1. He is doing a great job in the meeting, picking the system up and most importantly coming out here executing. He has the talent and the skillset. We will see how it goes." -- defensive coordinator Steve Wilks

How many were kept on the initial 53-man roster last year?: 4

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