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Position Preview

Browns 2021 position preview: Analyzing the safeties

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 a position that could be one of the most exciting, revamped groups on the roster.

The Safeties

John Johnson III
Grant Delpit
Ronnie Harrison Jr.
Sheldrick Redwine
Richard LeCounte III
Jovante Moffatt
Elijah Benton

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

What we know: The top of the safety depth chart is loaded with young, versatile talent. Johnson, whom the Browns signed hours into the start of free agency this offseason, was one of four safeties last season to play in every defensive snap and is capable of playing anywhere on the defensive side of the ball. That trait can also be found in Delpit, who will have an opportunity to land a big role on the defense after missing his entire rookie season with an Achilles injury, and Harrison, who became one of the Browns' best defensive players after he was acquired via trade early last year. All three of those guys can play near the line of scrimmage, in the box or in the backfield, which should significantly open the playbook for defensive coordinator Joe Woods, who has expressed interest in using formations that will keep all three safeties on the field during key moments. The Browns have no shortage of depth at the position, either, and added yet another young piece to the room late in the 2021 draft with LeCounte, a fifth-round pick whom the Browns believe could carve a sizable role in the defense at some point in his career.

What we don't know: The Browns want Delpit to take all the time he needs to not only make a full return from his Achilles injury but adjust to the speed of the NFL after not playing a game last season. Will Woods ease him into full-time action, or will Delpit be able to prove he's ready for everything in training camp? Johnson never left the field and wore the mic last year for the Rams' top-ranked defense. Will the Browns give him a similar job this year? Beyond the three top guys, the competition for backup roles should be intriguing, too, between Redwine, LeCounte, Moffatt and Benton and could be decided by whoever shines most in special teams.

The X-Factor: Delpit. The Browns know what they can get out of Johnson and Harrison, who both performed well last season and are set to see plenty of snaps this year. Delpit could be in line for a similar workload, but it all comes down to how prepared the Browns feel he is following his injury. They still believe he can become a cornerstone player of their defense and possibly one of the top safeties in the league, and if he can show glimpses of fulfilling that this year, the entire safety room could be in for a massive season.

The biggest number: 7. That's how many yards per catch Johnson allowed last year despite being targeted 67 times, which ranked third among all safeties. He recorded eight pass breakups and one interception.

Says it all: "It is a young, vibrant group, guys who can play, guys who can run, great athletes and versatile guys. You hear about Grant Delpit and Ronnie Harrison. We all are similar body types and similar skill sets. Just being out there together, hopefully, we can all be on the field at the same time giving quarterbacks headaches and just moving all around and just doing different things from a disguise standpoint." - Johnson

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