Browns position analysis: Young D-Line shows promise, searching for consistency


Over the next week, will analyze each position group on the roster with a quick look back at 2016 and an eye toward 2017 and beyond.*

Raw Data

Danny Shelton — 59 tackles, 1 TFL, 1.5 sacks

Emmanuel Ogbah — 53 tackles, 4 TFLs, 5.5 sacks

Jamie Meder — 48 tackles, 3 TFLs, 1 sack

Xavier Cooper — 20 tackles

Carl Nassib — 20 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 4 pass deflections

Stephen Paea — 12 tackles, 0.5 sacks

Gabe Wright — 4 tackles

Tyrone Holmes — 5 tackles

Desmond Bryant — N/A

Lawrence Nile-Stample — N/A

Trevon Coley — N/A


Rushing yards allowed  — 2,283 (31st)

Rushing yards per game allowed —  1142.7 (31st)

Sacks — 26 (31st)

Contract talk

The following players are restricted or unrestricted free agents heading into 2017:

Stephen Paea

Quote to note

"It's just really understanding how the NFL is, really understanding the situation that players are going to leave and players are going to come in. You just have to continue to do your job. Being a young team, I know they are definitely feeling that. I don't want to say it's stress, but at the same time, we're trying to work together and continue to communicate so we can grow as a young team." — Danny Shelton on a young Browns defense/defensive line

High point

With Melvin Gordon sidelined, the Browns held San Diego to 34 yards rushing on 19 carries in a 20-17 win on Christmas Eve. The defensive line also stood out months earlier in a loss to Tennessee, when it held Titans running back DeMarco Murray — who finished with a third-best 1,287 yards — to 65 yards on 21 carries.

Low point

Week 15 against Buffalo. The Browns surrendered 280 yards on 40 carries against the Bills in Orchard Park and didn't have an answer for LeSean McCoy, who led the way with 19 carries for 153 yards and two scores. Buffalo's offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage and handed Cleveland its worst performance against the run all season.

Surprise, surprise

With a leaner frame and newfound focus, Shelton emerged as one of the league's better interior defensive linemen. The 2015 first-round draft pick led his counterparts with 59 tackles and graded as one of the top run stoppers according to Pro Football Focus. As other members of Cleveland's defensive line learned on the fly, Shelton was something of a veteran presence in just his second year.

Outlook for 2017

With defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and a new defensive staff at the helm, the Browns are expected to switch to a 4-3 base defense that'll adapt to the strengths of its personnel. Shelton is poised to build upon a strong second season and Ogbah, who led the team with 5.5 sacks, should also continue to trend upward. It's also quite possible Cleveland will bolster its defensive line through the draft with the first and 12th overall picks. Expect the Browns to carefully evaluate the likes of defensive end Myles Garrett (considered the best player in this year's draft class), Alabama defensive tackle Jonathan Allen, Stanford's Solomon Thomas and many others.

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