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 gearing up for their return with a comprehensive breakdown of each position on the roster, moving next to a group that retained all of its players from last season, when the group steadily progressed throughout the year.
What we know: The progress this group made last season was a big reason why the defense meshed so well in the second half of the year. Delpit's role gradually expanded in his first full NFL season after missing his entire rookie year with an Achilles injury, and that allowed defensive coordinator Joe Woods to be more flexible in how the safeties — and entire secondary — was deployed. Now, Delpit could carry an even larger role with the group, which is still anchored nicely by Johnson's leadership and experience he's built over five NFL seasons. Harrison enters his third year with the Browns and gives Woods a quality piece as a third safety for his dime packages, a heavy part of the overall defensive gameplan.
What we don't know: How big of a leap can Delpit take? If spring practices were any indication, it could be one that brings him to the vision the Browns saw when they picked him in the second round in 2020 — they believed he could be an every-down versatile safety capable of snagging multiple picks per season and being one of the defense's top tacklers. He knocked down several passes in OTAs and minicamp and seems poised for a big year. It'll also be worth monitoring how much larger of a workload LeCounte, a 2021 fifth-round pick, takes after he mostly played special teams last year.
The X-Factor: Delpit. If he consistently plays well in a big role, the defense will be one giant step closer toward carrying the momentum over from last season and sticking as a top five group in the league.
The biggest number: 45. That was the number of "explosive pass plays," or passes completed for 20 or more yards, the Browns allowed last season, which was the seventh-lowest in the league according to Sharp Football Analysis. The lowest team total belonged to the Eagles 39. If the safeties elevate their production this year, it could move Cleveland even higher up the list of top secondaries in the league.
Says it all: "I feel as healthy as I can be," he said. "Getting this year under my belt was good for me. The game is slowing down a little bit, so it's going to be a good stepping stone for next year." - Delpit last January on how important it was for him to play a full, healthy season
How many were kept on the initial 53-man roster last year?: 5