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Ogbo Okoronkwo sees 'great opportunity' to ascend with Browns

Okoronkwo chose the Browns in free agency because of the talent he saw on their roster, and that supporting cast should help him continue to increase his sack production


Ogbo Okoronkwo was ready to re-join a winning football team when he began his search for a new NFL home this offseason.

Okoronkwo, a sixth-year defensive end veteran, knows how it feels to win a Super Bowl — he was on the Rams when they won Super Bowl LVI in 2021 — and he certainly knows how talented a roster needs to be in order for a team to get there, so as Okoronkwo assessed his options one year after a career-best season with the Texans, he considered the strength of the roster as one of his biggest selling points.

The Browns stood out.

"From top to bottom, this roster is stacked — offense and defense," he told Jason Gibbs in an interview on Best Podcast Available. "I just saw a great opportunity and being able to play with one of the best quarterbacks in the league. On paper, it looked amazing playing on the other side of Myles Garrett."

Check exclusive photos from pass rusher turned photographer Ogbo Okoronkwo at 2023 Production Day

That combination, which also includes Pro Bowl DE Za'Darius Smith, is one reason the Browns believe Okoronkwo will continue to produce at the same level he left off last year when he tallied a career-high five sacks in the final six games. It's a small sample size that happened once Okoronkwo, a fifth-round pick in 2018, began to accumulate the first starts of his career.

The Texans, however, didn't boast a defensive line as talented as the Browns, and the belief is that the extra attention Garrett and Smith attract from blockers every play will lead to even bigger pass rushing holes for Okoronkwo, who is also looking forward to learning even more tips by watching Garrett work.

"He's a super cool guy," Okoronkwo said. "He loves the game and is probably out somewhere training right now. He's a freak of nature. He can do a lot of stuff I'll never be able to do. I'm really excited to play alongside him. He's a cool dude, and I'll learn a lot from him."

The Browns appeared to experiment with Garrett, Smith and Okoronkwo all at the line of scrimmage together throughout mandatory minicamp. Garrett and Okoronkwo were positioned on the outside during 11-on-11 drills, while Smith, who has traditionally played outside most of his eight-year career, was placed inside.

That formation is just one example of how new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz could plan to constantly keep the Browns' defensive line explosive.

It's also one piece of Schwartz's coaching mindset that Okoronkwo has grown to love.

"His energy. He's the same guy every day," he said when asked what he liked about Schwartz. "He loves the game and wants us to play with our hair on fire. He's going to allow us to. He tells us to take the seat belt off and go play football, so it's going to be fun."

That job is a lot easier when there's talent across an entire roster, and that's all that Okoronkwo saw in March as he was deciding where to take his career next.

"It was too good of an offer to pass," he said.

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