The Cleveland Browns defensive backs are a young group with a few seasoned veterans in the bunch. Starting corners Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams enter their second and third seasons while projected starters at safety in Andrew Sendejo and Karl Joseph have more NFL experience. Kevin Johnson and Terrance Mitchell have both seen more time in the league and rookie safety Grant Delpit is another name to watch.
Other names vying for roster spots include second-year safety Sheldrick Redwine, who saw playing time in 2019. The Browns are also high on Donovan Olumba and Tavierre Thomas. Two relative unknowns who figure to have a chance to either replace a veteran with a good camp or will provide depth.
Another name to look out for is A. J. Green, who shocked draft experts when he went undrafted in the 2020 NFL Draft. Many had a fourth to fifth-round grade but a few even had a third-round grade on Green, so he’ll be interesting to watch.
Meet the 2020 Cleveland Browns Defensive Backs
Projected Starters: Denzel Ward, Greedy Williams, Kevin Johnson, Andrew Sendejo, Karl Joseph
The Browns figure to use nickelbacks often so the addition of Johnson here is necessary. Overall, this is a much-improved group over 2019. Ward didn’t have the same year in 2019 as he did in 2018 in the turnover margin, but he was still effective in pass coverage, recording two interceptions, with one going for a pick-six.
Williams struggled at times but played well enough to go into 2020 as a projected starter. Considered a steal when the Browns drafted him in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft, Williams must live up to the moniker in 2020 if he wants to be in Cleveland long term.
Johnson signed with the Browns in 2020 and figures to be the nickel. The former first-round pick hasn’t recorded an interception since his rookie season, and a younger player can knock him off if he continues to struggle in Cleveland.
Sendejo had a few good outings between 2013 and 2017 but has seen his play dip over the past two seasons. He’ll be 33 when the season begins and is a stopgap signee for 2020. Don’t expect Sendejo to be in the driver’s seat for long. Grant Delpit will take his spot.
Joseph has a rough time staying healthy, but he makes his presence known on the field. He’s never been healthy enough in his four seasons to play all 16 regular-season games. His injury history dates back to his college days.
Projected Backups: Terrance Mitchell, Tavierre Thomas, Grant Delpit, Sheldrick Redwine
A former seventh-round pick, Mitchell has carved a role in the NFL as a spot starter and key backup. He provides legitimate depth and value to the Browns as a backup and figures to be the fourth corner on the roster barring injury.
Thomas is a fringe player on defense who provides depth as a part-time return man on special teams. He’ll get the first crack at landing the last spot at corner in 2020. Redwine joins Thomas in looking to lock up the final spot at safety. He struggled in coverage in 2019 but accounted for 42 tackles. If he can improve his coverage, he makes for an excellent role player.
Delpit is the one to watch. He won the Jim Thorpe Award in 2019 despite struggling through a high-ankle sprain. It’s scary to think of how effective he’ll be when healthy. Delpit was teammates with Greedy Williams in college.
Fringe Prospects: Donald Olumba, Donnie Lewis, J.T. Hassell, Robert Jackson, A. J. Green
Olumba is good enough to get a look in camp. He’s entering his third season in the league and has one regular-season appearance in that time span. The Browns drafted Donnie Lewis in the seventh-round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He spent the season on the practice squad.
J.T. Hassell was an undrafted rookie from Florida Tech. He made four appearances in 2019 and recorded seven tackles. Robert Jackson has three career tackles in three years of experience. He’s been a practice squad player throughout most of his career but has spent time on the active roster.
Green is the most intriguing prospect and most likely to stick around, at least on the practice squad. He was a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, which ultimately went to Delpit. The projected Day Three pick wound up signing with the Browns on a high-end contract for an undrafted free agent.
Other hopeful Cleveland Browns defensive backs in camp include Elijah Benton, Jameson Houston, and Jovante Moffat.
Embed from Getty Images