The Cleveland Browns finished off their 2018 season with a 7-8-1 record. The season had its ups and downs, but overall it was a productive year that has raised hopes for the franchise going forward. Freddie Kitchens is now the head coach of the Browns and this offseason should have a lot different feel to it because of the success the team felt this season. But, before we get to the offseason, let’s go over what transpired this past season in our final report cards. We are finished with the offense and are now moving over to the defense, starting with the interior defensive line.
Overall Grade: D
Larry Ogunjobi: B+
Brian Price: C-
Trevon Coley: D
Carl Davis: INC
Top Grade: Larry Ogunjobi
Larry Ogunjobi became the starter this season and his play was the only bright spot in the interior defensive line. Ogunjobi was a disruptive force as he notched 52 tackles, 12.5 tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and 5.5 sacks this season. He is a freak athlete who can win with his quickness and his immense power. He played the most snaps of the interior defensive line after being used as a backup in his rookie season. The defensive lineman is a player on the rise and one of the building blocks of the defensive line for years to come.
Biggest Strength: Larry Ogunjobi
The Browns interior defensive line has only one strength, Larry Ogunjobi. Ogunjobi was a gleaming light in a position with little success this season. He was the best player by far at this position. Without Ogunjobi, the Browns interior defensive line would be a complete disaster. He is a player who creates pressure both against the run and pass. His presence causes blocking schemes to take notice of where he is lined up. He is a star in the making and is just beginning his rise.
Biggest Need: Everything else besides Ogunjobi
The interior defensive line is the No. 1 weakness on the Browns roster. Besides Ogunjobi, the Browns have little talent and absolutely no depth in the middle of the defensive line. The Browns primarily played three interior defensive linemen this season. The Browns lack of depth caused the Browns to move some of the edge rushers inside for certain situations. The interior defensive line is a mess after Ogunjobi.
2019 NFL Draft Priority: High/Priority No. 1
The position must be addressed with multiple pickups, so the NFL Draft will definitely be used to help alleviate this big hole on the roster. This upcoming NFL Draft is extremely strong at the interior defensive line position, so the Browns are set up well to address this huge weakness. In my opinion, the Browns must address this area with a high pick in this coming draft. This is priority No. 1 on the Browns roster.
2019 Free Agency Priority: High/Priority No. 1
As I have started, the interior defensive line needs a lot of help, so fixing this position will need to be done through multiple avenues. Free agency has a lot of intriguing options. Some of the most intriguing options are a “wait and see” situation. Gerald McCoy is said to be on the outs in Tampa Bay, so he could be a great addition if he is released and enters free agency. Grady Jarrett is another great interior defensive lineman who could be a huge addition to the Browns, but he may be franchise tagged by Atlanta. Beyond those top options, Sheldon Richardson is another player who could be a big addition to the defense. It will be helpful to get a veteran up front to go along with the young core the defense has already. The Browns have a lot of fun options in this avenue.
The interior defensive line is the biggest weakness on the Browns roster. Larry Ogunjobi is a rising star in the league and the centerpiece of the interior defensive line. But, the Browns have nothing else. Because of this fact, Ogunjobi was overused, hurting his consistency throughout the season. Both, Trevon Coley and Brian Price are just not good enough, especially in terms of playing high snap amounts. They could be players who finish off the backend of the position’s depth chart, but the Browns cannot rely on them to be productive players. This position needs a makeover.
The Browns No. 1 objective this offseason is to address the interior defensive line. The Browns need at least two new interior defensive linemen if not more to help fix this unit. Cleveland should use both the draft and free agency to attack this weakness. There are also moves the Browns could do on their roster that could help add depth to the position. Emmanuel Ogbah could be in line to move inside and be more of interior defensive lineman if the Browns add some more talent on the edge. Also, Chad Thomas is an unknown on where and if he can show production on the defensive line. Nonetheless, the Browns need to a complete makeover to help Larry Ogunjobi and the interior defensive line.