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Grant Delpit eager to 'give the fans what they want,' return to field with revamped Browns D 

Delpit’s return is one more new wrinkle Cleveland should have to improve its defense in 2021

Grant Delpit can't wait to stop waiting.

He's done quite a bit of that over the past year. First, he needed to wait to find out where he'd be drafted in the 2020 draft. Delpit, the 2019 Jim Thorpe Award winner and standout safety from LSU, went into the draft with first-round prospects, but he waited until Day 2, when the Browns called him to inform him he was coming to Cleveland.

But more patience was needed. Delpit tore his Achilles after the first week of training camp and never had a chance to officially start his rookie season. He wouldn't have a chance to make his NFL debut until 2021.

"The toughest part was just knowing that you work your whole life just to get somewhere, and then anything can happen off the wall and you're forced to sit back and watch," he said in an interview with Best Podcast Available. "That's the toughest part, but it's life, so it happens."

Delpit, however, can see the finish line for his rehab and the starting block for his first full NFL season. He said he's a few months away from returning to full health, which means he'll be in a good spot for training camp, where he'll look to prove himself as the same talented, versatile safety the Browns valued when they selected him 44th overall in 2020.

"I've put so many hours in the weight room," he said. "That's just part of life when you're playing in the league. I'm doing everything I can to get on the field."

When Delpit does return, he'll play around a few different and new faces that should help turn the Browns defense into one of the most improved units in 2021.

Starting with his own position group, Delpit is expected to play a key role with free-agent addition John Johnson III, who played every defensive snap with the Los Angeles Rams last season and brings an aggressive, fast-paced style to the secondary. Ronnie Harrison Jr., whom the Browns acquired via trade last season in the days after Delpit's injury, is a talented and young prospect, too.

All three safeties are capable of playing anywhere on the field, which should give opposing offenses plenty to think about when they digest the wide array of formations the Browns figure to have in their playbook.

"The depth is great," Delpit said. "Everybody wants to have depth, and everybody we have can play. We've got all the pieces. Now it's time to put it together and make it work."

The defense has been upgraded elsewhere around Delpit, too. Troy Hill, who built a career-best season with the Rams in 2020, has come to Cleveland and is poised to make an impact in the slot cornerback role. Anthony Walker will play a major role at linebacker, while Takkarist McKinley and Malik Jackson are new additions that could be candidates to start on the defensive line.

And now there's Jadeveon Clowney, one of the top free agents remaining who signed with the Browns on Wednesday. With Clowney and Myles Garrett — the only two edge rushers who have been drafted No. 1 overall in over a decade — the Browns' defense should provide plenty of stress to quarterbacks.

That makes life more fun for the secondary, too.

"I just thought to myself, 'Man, it's about to get scary,'" Delpit said. "Hopefully, we can all put it together as a whole defense."

There couldn't be much more for Delpit to look forward to when he's finally able to strap an orange helmet back on and return to the field. Among all the free-agent signings, Delpit's talents are one more thing Cleveland has to look forward to with a new-look defense in 2021.

For Delpit, the wait has been long, but he knows it'll be worth it.

"It's been a long time coming," he said, "but hopefully I can give the fans what they want, give myself what I want and what my family wants."

Check out the best photos of Safety Grant Delpit