We're 22 days from the start of training camp in Berea, which means we have a little time to look toward the clouds and ponder deep thoughts about how things might go for the 2019 Cleveland Browns.
From that process, we've emerged from the inner portion of our football-focused consciences with nine very important questions related to this football team, which reconvenes for the start of camp in a month. We'll address one per weekday for the next two weeks. Next up: Cleveland's first pick, who stands to play a key role if he can continue to improve.
Most Important Question Ahead of Training Camp No. 2: Will Greedy Williams win the No. 2 cornerback job?
After multiple drafts spent picking in the upper half of the first round (and often with multiple picks in the round), the Browns exited it entirely in 2019 thanks to the blockbuster trade that landed them Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon. No matter, though, as the team still landed their guy in the second round with the help of a slight trade up with the Indianapolis Colts.
Cleveland moved from No. 49 to 46 to select LSU cornerback Greedy Williams, a player who had been projected to go in the first round but fell due to concerns related to his tackling ability. Fellow former Tiger Beckham was ecstatic at the pick, posting a video in which he repeatedly said "Greedy!" in exasperated joy.
Williams elicited such a reaction from Beckham for good reason: He's a natural cover corner with skills that should translate well to the NFL. The Browns made a similar pick the previous year in Ohio State defender Denzel Ward, who's smaller than Williams but blankets opposing receivers. He adjusted to the pro game incredibly well, making the Pro Bowl as a rookie.
Now, Cleveland has the chance to create a modern-day pairing in the mold of Hanford Dixon and Frank Minnifield. The Browns might have themselves a stellar corner tandem for years to come.
We'll start to learn whether that's true in camp, when Williams adds what he's digested and displayed during offseason activities to full pads and weeks of repetitions. He steadily climbed from the rookie pack to the starting lineup during minicamp, with a pick-six of Baker Mayfield serving as his highlight for the week. He's gone from getting burned early in the offseason to playing attached to the hip of receivers, much like Ward did during his rookie year.
Williams talked about his persistence and perseverance paying off during camp, and he's positioned to build on it in July and August.
The question then becomes: Can he improve enough to win the starting job opposite Ward?
Williams' progression in short time indicates he can. Camp is a different beast and will be another adjustment process for the rookie, but if he continues on his upward trend, it's realistic to see him securing the role entering the regular season. This would mean great things for a Browns defense that could use another reliable cover corner at the position and would then rely on its mix of veterans and depth players behind the starters.
We can't say for sure that it will happen, and Williams still needs to prove concerns about his tackling were overblown, but if he keeps following his process -- grinding tape with cornerbacks coach DeWayne Walker before practice, then implementing the mental work on the field -- he will have a good chance to make an impact as a rookie. Cleveland will be much better defensively if that ends up happening.