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2020 NFL Draft

How Joe Schobert can help Browns defense from multiple spots

When it's come to discussing new linebacker Joe Schobert, Browns coach Hue Jackson and vice president player personnel Andrew Berry have veered away from pigeonholing the former Wisconsin linebacker into one specific position.

While Browns coaches and player personnel have been fairly clear with the plans for Emmanuel Ogbah (outside linebacker) and Carl Nassib (defensive lineman), they've remained open to what lies ahead for Schobert, the Browns' first of four fourth-round picks in the 2016 NFL Draft.

And that's what makes Schobert such a valuable addition to a Cleveland team that took a big step forward in building a young nucleus on offense, defense and special teams with the addition of 14 players in the draft. As it stands now, the best abbreviation next to Schobert's name might just be "FP" for "football player."

"He is a tremendous football player," Jackson said. "He's competitive, he's another guy who knows how to go after the quarterback, he's played inside, he's played outside, he's done a lot of different things at Wisconsin and he'll do a lot of different stuff here."

The Browns kicked off a jam-packed Day 3 of the 2016 NFL Draft on Saturday by selecting Wisconsin linebacker Joe Schobert at the start of the fourth round with the No. 99 pick.

Schobert was primarily an outside linebacker in Wisconsin's 3-4 scheme -- a relative outlier in college football, where most teams run some variation of a 4-3. At 6-foot-1 and 245 pounds, Schobert doesn't have typical size for 3-4 outside linebackers in the NFL, but his motor is atypical, and his versatility and knowledge of the game should allow him to play at one of the inside linebacker spots if the Browns opt to use him in that part of the defense.

Based on his conversations with the Browns throughout the pre-draft process, Schobert is preparing to learn both positions on top of special teams, where he could be a jack of all trades.

Even as he starred as a starting linebacker during his junior and senior seasons, Schobert maintained regular roles on special teams because he had an eye on the future.

"My position coach that came in (Tim Tibesar), he did a great job … instilling in us that linebackers play special teams unless you're a bona fide, sure-fire starter," Schobert said. "When you're coming into the league, you're going to make your team on special teams. He had that engrained in us and we were playing special teams. For me as a senior playing special teams, I know it's important and that's something I'm willing to do."

No matter what spot he's been placed, Schobert has thrived. Even when it was the scout team, where he began his Wisconsin career as a walk-on, Schobert, a former high school running back and safety, performed at a high enough of a level to earn Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year and eventually land a scholarship. After two seasons as a reserve who contributed on special teams, Schobert promptly made the most of his starting opportunity as a junior, holding down the position and racking up big numbers in the process.

In his last two seasons, Schobert compiled 33.5 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles. He capped his career by winning the Big Ten's Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year and earned First Team All-Big Ten honors.

"He's been able to be an incredibly productive college football player," Berry said. "Certainly it will be up to (defensive coordinator Ray Horton) and his staff where they want to play him but we see him as a guy who can play outside and inside, he can rush the passer, he can drop, he can cover, great tackler, obviously plays with non-stop energy and also probably has the best nickname in college football: Joe the Show."

How "The Show" begins in Cleveland remains to be seen, but Jackson anticipates his responsibilities to be multiple.

"We're really impressed and happy with his skill set along with a lot of the guys we drafted on defense," Jackson said. "It's just a matter of … finding where their comfort level, finding the things they do well, and maximizing that."

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