When Jim Leonhard announced his retirement in December, the Browns were left with relatively thin depth behind their starters at safety.
The Browns addressed this position in the fourth round by drafting Ibraheim Campbell from Northwestern. The four-year starter was known as one of the hardest hitters in the Big Ten Conference, a disruptive force in blowing up running plays and a player who brings a gym rat mentality with him to Cleveland.
The 5-foot-11, 208-pound Campbell also comes highly recommended from Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald. Defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil was in Fitzgerald's wedding and the two coached together at Northwestern back in 2003-04.
Fitzgerald told O'Neil that Campbell plays just like Leonhard – and can eventually develop into an instinctive leader of the defense.
"He was a turnover machine for us," Fitzgerald said. "That work ethic he leaves is going to be his legacy at our program."
In his brief conversations with the Browns, Campbell was told the team will cross-train him at both free and strong safety. Campbell's strength with the Wildcats was playing up in the box, where he forced six career fumbles.
Campbell has done his homework, too. He's more than familiar with Cleveland's Pro Bowl tandem of safeties, Tashaun Gipson and Donte Whitner. He'll join a group of Browns safeties that also includes Jordan Poyer and Johnson Bademosi.
The 22-year-old is going to be bringing several notepads with him to soak up everything his accomplished teammates have to say.
"I'm extremely excited about that opportunity, especially being a rookie you have to learn from the role models and the older guys and those are some great role models and potential mentors and teachers coming into the NFL," Campbell said. "It's an honor and I look forward to getting to learn from those guys mostly."
In Campbell's first season and quest to make the 53-man roster, special teams will be at the top of his list in terms of importance. He'll be challenged, too. The Browns' punt and kickoff coverage units, starring Bademosi and wide receiver Marlon Moore, were among the best in the NFL.
Campbell becomes the first Wildcats defensive player to be drafted since 2010.