We've already hit the Combine Week in the 2023 offseason, and before we head to Indianapolis, we're digging into the Mailbag for a round of questions.
In this edition, we're talking Jerome Ford, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and more — and keep sending away your Qs as we get closer to the draft!
What are the plans for Jerome Ford moving forward - Mason F., Wadsworth OH
Ford is one rookie from last season who seems poised to carry a bigger role in Year 2. The Browns like his elusiveness, and he displayed it on several solid runs as a kick returner, averaging 24.1 yards in 30 total returns. Now, he'll work under new special teams coordinator/assistant head coach Bubba Ventrone, the former Colts special teams coordinator whose group last season touted one of the league's best kickoff returners in Dallis Flowers, who averaged 31.1 yards per kickoff return. Flowers led all players who totaled over 20 kickoff returns in yardage.
Depending on if the Browns choose to let RB Kareem Hunt go elsewhere as an unrestricted free agent this offseason, Ford could see added snaps on offense, too. His offensive work was limited to just eight carries for 12 yards last year, but he only received carries in two games. The Browns didn't need him to take offensive snaps with Nick Chubb and Hunt both managing the near-entirety of the rushing workload last season, but that could change next year.
When asked about Ford in December, Kevin Stefanski commended the Cincinnati product for doing what he's been asked.
"He has done a really nice job again embracing special teams," Stefanski said. "He made plays on kickoff early in the season where I don't know the last time he covered a kick in his life – you may be going back to freshman year of high school type of thing. He embraced it. He has embraced that role as the kick returner because he knows he can impact the game. He gives a great look in practice.
"It's just one of those things with your roster. Sometimes you have guys who are in front of you, and you just have to keep your head down and control what you can control. I think he has done a nice job of that."
What is the ideal way for JOK to be used in a Jim Schwartz defense? I feel like he's a star in the making, but he needs to be utilized properly. - Mike W., Nashville TN
The Browns have a lot to sort out in their linebacker room this offseason with three high-role players — Anthony Walker Jr., Sione Takitaki and Deion Jones — set to become unrestricted free agents in March.
Owusu-Koramoah is perhaps the most talented linebacker the Browns have under contract for next season, and it's a safe bet he'll likely be used in a near-every down role next year in his third season in the league. It's too soon to tell, though, what the most "ideal" way for him to be used will be until the Browns round out the rest of their linebackers room, but he's capable of playing in either of the three spots at linebacker because of his speed.
The key for Owusu-Koramoah next season — wherever he plays — will be to continue learning how to best use that speed, which is what Stefanski said about him in November.
"JOK plays with a unique speed," Stefanski said. "When he sees it, he goes. A lot of times, it is a really, really good play and he is making the right play. If it is not, he can put himself in a bad position because he goes so fast. Ultimately, when you are playing linebacker in this system or any system really, once you see it, you just have to go."
There should be a training camp started in Africa, especially Ghana and Nigeria. There are many talents - Joel B., New Jersey
There is! It's called NFL Africa, and JOK was one of the NFL players who attended the trip last year. The league started an annual week of activities in Ghana, where Owusu-Koramoah's ancestry lies, in 2022 and plans to do activities in other African countries in the future.
Do the front offices in Berea kind of shut down or is there always someone there doing stuff? Do the players continue to come during the off-season or do they kind of pack up and leave? - Erica W., Honolulu HI
The doors stay open for everyone with the Browns year-round at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus, and employees from both the football and business sides are still here each week to knock out offseason tasks and prepare for next season. As for the players, they are allowed to come to the facility to work out and receive medical attention, but they can have limited interaction with the coaching staff at this point in the offseason. A few players will come in just about each day to work out and rehab, while others will go out of the city to complete their offseason work. No formal practices are allowed between players and coaches, however, until offseason workout programs begin in April.