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Position Preview

Browns 2021 position preview: Analyzing the cornerbacks

The countdown 'til training camp is on.

In two weeks, the Browns will be back in Berea for five weeks of practices, meetings and preparations for the 2021 season — one that's filled with hype following several key additions to the defense and little changes to an offense that thrived in 2020.

We're examining each position on the roster as Day 1 of camp nears and continuing with one of the most revamped and improved groups on the defense.

The Cornerbacks

Denzel Ward

Troy Hill

Greedy Williams

Greg Newsome II

M.J. Stewart Jr.

Kiondre Thomas

Robert Jackson

A.J. Green

Brian Allen

Emmanuel Rugamba

Check out photos of the cornerbacks the Browns will be bringing into training camp

What we know: The cornerbacks room was never at full strength last season after Williams suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in training camp. The position's depth was tested multiple times throughout the season as a result, which could be one reason why Executive Vice President of Football Operations and GM Andrew Berry invested significant resources this offseason to improve the room. Now, the position could be one of the most improved units on the roster. The talent starts with Ward, who tallied a season-high 18 passes defensed last season, and continues with the return of Williams and the additions of Hill and Newsome. Hill was one of the best slot corners in the game last season with the Rams, while Newsome was one of the best cornerbacks of the 2021 draft class and will have an immediate shot to carve a significant role in the defense. The cornerbacks room is now one of the deepest on the roster and should produce one of the best battles of training camp, which leads us to the next section.

What we don't know: Will Williams or Newsome start on the outside? Those are the two top candidates to join Ward at the top of the secondary depth chart, and their battle will be among the most watched competitions of camp. Hill is capable of playing on the outside, too, but when the room is fully healthy, he'll be likely positioned in the slot. Regardless of who wins the starting battle, the usage of Newsome will be interesting to follow in his rookie season. The Browns aren't in any hurry to overload Newsome with every-down responsibilities, but he was one of the most active corners of minicamp and certainly looks prepared to handle whatever role he's given come Week 1. The battle for spots at the bottom of the depth chart will be worth following, too, and could be decided over which players can make an impression on special teams.

The X-Factor: Williams — if he can prove he's ready for a big role after returning from injury. Ward is one of the most consistent and formidable defenders on the defense, Hill is a proven defender from the slot and Newsome is a promising first-round talent who doesn't have to be rushed into big-time action. If Williams is able to rebound from his shoulder injury and step closer to the potential the Browns saw in him as a 2019 second-round pick, the depth of the cornerback room will be truly maximized. 

The biggest number: 75.8. That's the quarterback passer rating Hill allowed when playing from the slot last season. Of the 33 players with at least 150 coverage snaps in the slot, only Mike Hilton (59.9) had a lower passer rating against.

Says it all:  "I think we can be dominant. You can never have enough corners. All of those guys can play. Everybody can play. They have shown that. Everybody just has to come out here and compete, do our job and everything else will take care of itself." - Ward

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