Training camp is finally right around the corner.
In just over one week, the Browns will be back in Cleveland to begin preparations for 2022. We're preparing for their return with a comprehensive breakdown of each position on the roster, moving next to a group that holds the leading tackler from a year ago and a few promising young players looking to increase their roles in the defense.
What we know: This position group is led by the top two leading tacklers last season: Walker and Owusu-Koramoah. After totaling 113 tackles in his first year in Cleveland, Walker was re-signed this offseason because of his experience and role as a trusted leader in the locker room. Owusu-Koramoah, a 2021 second-round pick who many believed had first-round talents, was excellent in the 14 games he played with 76 tackles and will likely carry a bigger role on the defense this year — his speed and quick instincts are exactly what defensive coordinator Joe Woods covets at the position. The Browns are still confident that 2020 third-round pick Jacob Phillips can land a big role in the group after he was limited to four games last year due to a biceps injury.
What we don't know: What kind of leap can "JOK" take this year? He has the potential to become one of the league's most dependable linebackers if he increases his production from a year ago and settles nicely into an every-down role. The same can be asked for Phillips — who took first team reps at MIKE linebacker at points during the spring — and Fields, a 2021 fifth-round pick who dealt with injuries throughout his first NFL offseason and played on special teams as a rookie.
The X-Factor: Phillips. The Browns know what they can get from Walker and feel confident about Owusu-Koramoah taking a big step this year. If Phillips can also rebound from his shortened second year in the league, he'd give the Browns another strong, speedy option they can use in multiple linebacker positions.
The biggest number: 89.8. That was the grade Owusu-Koramoah was given by Pro Football Focus last year, which was the highest among all rookies. There's no doubt he has star potential and, after playing in only 65 percent of the defense's snaps last year, will likely have a bigger platform to show it this season.
Says it all: "I think he has had a good offseason. He is working very hard as he does. Like any sophomore, there is hopefully a step that just comes from a greater understanding of what we are doing schematically, greater use of technique and those type of things. He is working hard." - Head Coach Kevin Stefanski on Owusu-Koramoah
How many were kept on the initial 53-man roster last year?: 7