Browns Mailbag

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Browns Mailbag: What kind of impact can Anthony Schwartz make as a rookie?

Senior Writer Andrew Gribble answers your questions every week

We're rolling into the weekend with four of your questions to cap a two-mailbag week on ClevelandBrowns.com.

How does Nick Chubb compare at this point in his career to other great running backs in the franchise history? — Rob M., Charleston, West Virginia

Chubb has been so good through the first three seasons of his career, we're close to making it "other great running back" and not "running backs" when discussing where he ranks among Browns greats. A lot of lists — whether it be rushing yards in a season, top rushing performances, etc. — are a mix of Chubb and Jim Brown. That's it. Here are some notable stats/comparisons between Chubb, Brown and Leroy Kelly, the Browns' second all-time leader in rushing yards.

Rushing totals after 3 seasons

Brown - 749 carries, 3,798 yards, 40 TDs; 56 rec., 383 yards, 2 TDs

Leroy Kelly - 252 carries, 1,292 yards, 15 TDs; 41 rec., 488 yards, TD (Kelly really hit his stride in his third, fourth and fifth seasons).

Chubb - 680 carries, 3,557 yards, 28 TDs; 72 rec., 577 yards, 2 TDs

After just three seasons, Chubb is already seventh in team history in career rushing yards with 3,557. He's already tied for third with most 100-yard games (17). Chubb's average yards per carry are the best ever by a Browns player through his first three years.

No matter how you look at it, Chubb has been exceptional and is on track to make some real history as a Browns running back.

Are you going to keep all those tight ends? — Ken A., Rome, Georgia

The Browns certainly found a way to use all four of their tight ends throughout the 2020 season, and there's no reason to believe they can't do it again in 2021. Even when all of the players were healthy, the Browns brought up all of them on game day every single time. On top of Austin Hooper, Harrison Bryant and David Njoku playing significant roles in the offense, Stephen Carlson was an invaluable special teams player. Carlson occasionally saw the field on offense, too, and has made a handful of significant plays when given the opportunity.

Kevin Stefanski has made it clear how much he loves incorporating tight ends within his offense, and the Browns have a bunch of good ones. This unit, fully intact from last season, should be viewed as one of the team's major strengths.

I think the most intriguing draft pick is Anthony Schwartz from Auburn. Do you think he has a chance to be an impact player in his first year? — Brooks P., Cincinnati

The intrigue surrounding Schwartz is understandable. Simply put, he's one of, if not the fastest players from the entire 2021 NFL Draft class. He also brings an element to the Browns receiving room that was missing in a big way during the second half of 2020, when Odell Beckham Jr. was lost for the season with a torn ACL. The Browns found plenty of success through the air but were missing a player that could stretch the field and keep safeties honest on every snap. It also shouldn't be overlooked the Browns were without JoJo Natson for most of 2020, too. Though Natson was primarily used as a returner, he was deployed on a handful of occasions as a player who could handle jet sweeps and other plays designed to get the ball in the hands of one of the fastest players on the field.

Perhaps the best thing about the situation Schwartz faces? He'll have to earn everything he gets in a Browns wide receivers room that returns in full from 2020. Not only is Beckham back, but so is Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, Khadarel Hodge and Donovan Peoples-Jones. And remember, before Beckham went down with his injury, snaps were hard to come by for some of the other members in the room. That's particularly exciting for wide receivers coach Chad O'Shea, who talked a whole lot about Schwartz on a recent episode of "Best Podcast Available."

"He's young. He's smart. He's got a rare trait of elite speed," O'Shea said. "Usually when you have that combination, the work to go with it and a good attitude … that culminates to somebody that we can really use in our offense and can be a productive player for us."

When considering our current roster's talent and depth, is it possible that our defense is now capable of achieving an equal or greater level of performance compared to our offense? — Nick D., Wayne, West Virginia

This is a good question and a testament to the work Andrew Berry and Co. have done to rebuild the defense during a busy offseason. The answer, though, is simple. It's WAY too early to tell. Offensively, the goal is for the Browns to be even better than they were last year. And defensively, there's so much work to do for these new players, and they are scattered all across the roster, meaning there will be a new face — or two or three — at every level of the defense when the season opens in Kansas City. Just like the offense last year, which really came together during the second half of the season, the key will be getting on the same page with the defensive schemes and finding the best combinations of players for all of the various packages Joe Woods looks to unleash.

"You have to be intentional about it and plan accordingly, but you also look at last year and you can say that you were teaching new systems to everybody on both sides of the ball," Stefanski said. "You do have returning players who have heard some of what we are talking about now. To your point about gelling, absolutely, that is something that is important and that we will work on in a bunch of different ways. We will just make sure that we teach at an appropriate speed and bring everybody along."

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