The offseason is officially underway, and free agency is just around the corner. Until then, we'll be putting the Browns' current roster through a thorough, position by position review.
Next up: The defensive line
The Raw Numbers
Sacks - 38 (T-15th in NFL)
Rush defense - 110.8 yards allowed per game (9th in NFL)
Pressure rate - 73.0 (11th in NFL)
Sheldon Richardson: 64 tackles, 4.5 sacks (8 TFLs), 1 forced fumble
Myles Garrett: 48 tackles, 12 sacks (15 TFLs), 4 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries
Larry Ogunjobi: 46 tackles, 2.5 sacks (7.5 TFLs), 1 forced fumble
Olivier Vernon: 36 tackles, 9 sacks (13 TFLs), 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery
Porter Gustin: 30 tackles, 2.5 TFLs
Jordan Elliott: 15 tackles
Adrian Clayborn: 12 tackles, 3.5 sacks (5 TFLs), 1 forced fumble
Vincent Taylor: 12 tackles, 2 TFLs
Analysis in 150 Words or Less
Garrett, who posted his third consecutive double-digit sack season, led the way for a unit that provided the most consistent level of play for the Browns defense. He was a one-man wrecking crew during the first half of the season, picking up the majority of the defensive line's sacks and making a number of game-changing plays that led directly to victories. Vernon and Richardson really dialed things up during the second half of the year and helped the group overcome Garrett's two-game absence. Clayborn and Gustin provided solid depth throughout the year, while Taylor and Elliott helped give Richardson and Ogunjobi the rest they needed to be at their best late in games. Though the unit's ability to get to the QB the way it wanted came in waves, it was consistently reliable against opponent's rushing attacks, allowing more than 100 yards in just half of its regular season games.
Number of Significance
0 — Games missed by Richardson since he signed with the Browns in 2019. Richardson has been a rock for Cleveland's defensive line over the past two seasons, even filling in at defensive end during one stretch of 2019. He was at the center of a number of the defense's biggest moments this past season and his overall presence as a player and a leader has been simply invaluable.
In the first of three consecutive weather-affected games at FirstEnergy Stadium, the Browns let the Raiders dictate the tempo and flow of a game they'd ultimately lose, 16-6. The Raiders picked up 15 of their 24 first downs on the ground and finished with 209 rushing yards, by far the most Cleveland would surrender all season to a team with a traditional running attack. Cleveland sacked Derek Carr twice but Garrett was bothered all throughout the game with a knee injury that limited his ability to deliver the same kind of game-wrecking pressure he typically does.
Squaring off against the NFL's rushing king, the Browns made Derrick Henry a non-factor in their Week 13 triumph over the Titans. Henry rushed for just 60 yards and was largely held out of the second half while Tennessee tried to come back from a 31-point deficit. Additionally, the D-line was at the center of two of the game's biggest plays, as it stuffed Henry on an early fourth-down rush attempt and later forced Henry to fumble for the first time all season. The Browns scored touchdowns following both of those plays, and the rout was on.
What They Said
"I love our group. I feel confident in our group. We can mix and match a bunch of different ways. I feel like they are a strength for us. Whether or not we are playing our best ball, I do not know that, but I do know that I feel very confident going into any matchup with this group of guys." — defensive line coach Chris Kiffin
"You have one of those flamethrowers out there, that is what allows you to do certain things in coverage. I always try to put Myles in good situations because I feel like if we can get him one on one, I feel like he has a chance to win every time." — defensive coordinator Joe Woods
Nathan Zegura's Take
"There are some questions. You're talking about starters. Olivier Vernon is a pending free agent. Larry Ogunjobi, a starter, is a pending free agent. You get the return of Andrew Billings to the interior of the defensive line but there are questions at that defensive end spot opposite of Myles Garrett headed into 2021. That will be a big story to watch this offseason."
Who's Back for 2021?
Garrett, Richardson, Elliott and Clayborn are all under contract. Billings, who opted out for the 2020 season, will be back on the roster at the start of the new league year.
Who's a Potential Free Agent?
Vernon, Ogunjobi and Taylor are poised to be unrestricted free agents at the start of the new league year. Gustin will be an exclusive rights free agent.
Check out the best 100 photos from this season by the Browns photo team