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2020 NFL Draft

In NFL Draft, Browns make good on need to get after the quarterback with multiple new faces

Ray Horton's approach to defense isn't overly complicated.

Stopping the run is a central theme.

So is getting after the quarterback.

"He likes hitting the quarterback when they're getting off the bus if he could," Browns head coach Hue Jackson said of the team's defensive coordinator at the NFL's annual owners' meetings in March.

"He understands we like quarterbacks that stand in one place — and (if you do that) in pro football — you're going to get exposed."

The Browns last weekend began to make good on that approach, scooping up two pass rushers — Oklahoma State's Emmanuel Ogbah and Penn State's Carl Nassib — in a draft class of 14 members.

Cleveland will also rely on players like Barkevious Mingo, who bulked up over the offseason, veteran linebacker Paul Kruger, 2015 second-round pick Nate Orchard and former first-round draft pick and nose tackle Danny Shelton to help pressure passers across the NFL.

"We really were pleased with what we were able to accomplish – the volume of talent but specifically addressing particular areas of the roster that we wanted to improve," executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said last week.

Indeed, Cleveland made it a point to shore up its wide receivers group on offense and, on defense, its ability to pressure the quarterback.

As such, the Browns turned down a bevy of phone calls interested in making a deal for the 32nd pick and selected Ogbah, a 6-foot-4, 270-pound prospect who clocked a 4.63-second 40-yard dash at the combine. In his final year with the Cowboys, Ogbah — who will play linebacker — notched 12.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss.

"We're really excited to add him to our outside linebacker unit. He has an exceptional combination of power, speed and athleticism," vice president of player personnel Andrew Berry said. "We think he will be able to add some pass-rush ability to our team."

Meanwhile, Nassib — who went from a walk-on with the Nittany Lions to the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year last season — led the nation with 15.5 sacks in addition to 20 tackles for loss. With a 6-foot-7, 275-pound frame, the Browns expect the West Chester, Pennsylvania, native to play defensive end.

For the Browns, who struggled to get after the quarterback in 2015 with 29 total sacks, Ogbah and Nassib could play key roles on a defense coming into form under Horton and Co. as Cleveland continues its offseason workout program.

"We're going to change that," Ogbah said last weekend when asked about the team's past struggles. Then he looked at Nassib who sat to his right during a press conference.

"As you can see, he led the NCAA in sacks, and I was right behind him so we have a knack for getting to the quarterback," Ogbah said. "That's what we're bringing to the table. We're bringing that pass rush, getting back there and getting after him."

After all, Horton in February made it clear the Browns will have to pressure signal-callers next season to be successful.

"You better affect the quarterback. Now, I go back to the AFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl," Horton said, pointing to Denver's win over Carolina in which it flustered Panthers quarterback Cam Newton from start to finish.

"(The Broncos) affected the quarterback. Next year, we'll be looking for a rusher. The year after that, we'll be looking for a rusher ... Until they change (the rules), we will be looking for a guy who can get around the corner and hit the quarterback."

Horton added: "We're going to preach what we do. We're going to try to pressure the quarterback. As Coach Hue has mentioned more than once, we want to be suffocating.

"When we are in this division on the defensive side of the ball, you have to be. This is a tough, big-man division," Horton continued. "You better be ready to play football on Sunday or you're going to be embarrassed."

And it would seem Ogbah and Nassib — as well as the rest of the Browns defense — are up to the challenge.

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