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Elements in place for Emmanuel Ogbah to build off encouraging rookie year

The elements are there for Emmanuel Ogbah to build off his impressive rookie season, and he knows it.

After leading the team with 5.5 sacks, Ogbah went into the offseason with a mindset to improve his pass rushing skills. And then the Browns added new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who is set to utilize more 4-3 formations that will put Ogbah back in his comfort zone as a true end. And then the Browns used the No. 1 pick on Myles Garrett, a uniquely talented pass rusher who is poised to be flanked on the opposite side of the line from Ogbah.

It's understandably difficult for Ogbah to hold back his optimism.

"I knew I had to get better just thinking back and seeing what I did. I knew I could be better because I have a year under my belt," Ogbah said. "I'm just ready to get after it this year."

Ogbah is making a transition of sorts, going from a 3-4 end to a 4-3 end, but it's a little simpler than what he experienced as a rookie.

The first pick of last year's second round, Ogbah, who shined in Oklahoma State's 4-3 base defense, was pegged to play as an outside linebacker in Cleveland's base 3-4. He worked at and learned the spot throughout OTAs and minicamp last year but experienced a change of course when training camp started. A season-ending injury to veteran Desmond Bryant left the Browns short on bodies along the defensive line, and Ogbah was the most logical replacement.

It was a move that made Ogbah a little more comfortable entering his first NFL season, but it was nothing like how he feels now.

"That has been my bread and butter since high school and college. I am excited with the defense," Ogbah said. "I was inside in the 3-4. Now, I am outside. I am just excited that now I am in a position that I am comfortable in and used to."

Asked if he's noticed that comfort from Ogbah, Browns coach Hue Jackson said "absolutely."

"We saw a little bit of that. I know we were a 3-4 team, but he played as an end for us last year. I don't think that is a huge transition for him," Jackson said. "He has done a good job. He is working hard, he is understanding what we are expecting from him at that position and he has done well thus far."

Over the next few months, the Browns will learn how much better Ogbah can be with a player like Garrett on the other side of the line. If offenses adjust their protections to account for Garrett, Ogbah could be the top beneficiary. And if Ogbah takes a big leap, the opposite could happen for Garrett.

Ogbah and Jackson were reluctant to get into specifics with how Garrett would benefit Ogbah's performance, but both made it clear he would only help.

"For our defensive football team, he is a really good player," Jackson said. "He is just going to mix into the culture that we have over there on defense with the rest of the guys, and hopefully, uplift everybody. I hope they all uplift each other as we go through this process.

"We all know one man cannot do it by himself, but I think having a guy with his skill and his talent, obviously, everybody will be able to see that and try to play to that, as well."

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