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 finish up the defensive report card by examining how the Browns safeties performed in 2018.
Overall Grade: A
Damarious Randall: A
Jabrill Peppers: A
Derrick Kindred: C
Jermaine Whitehead: INC
Top Grade: Jabrill Peppers and Damarious Randall
The top grades at the safety position go to the Browns two starters, Jabrill Peppers and Damarious Randall. The two were put into their natural positions this season and their performances showed it. Randall was excellent as the safety in the backend of the defense, charged to be the free safety in the defense. Peppers finally got to play a position that fit his talent, with the safety moving all over the defense including coming up into the box. These two solidified their starter positions on this defense for many years to come.
Biggest Strength: Starters
The Browns boast one of the best young safety duos in Jabrill Peppers and Damarious Randall. Cleveland was able to put these two players in their natural positions and their performances soared with the moves. The Browns are now set for many years to come at both free and strong safety. The position is taken care of with two players who are building blocks for the entire defense.
Biggest Need: Depth
The Browns do not have a huge need at this position, but the team could add some more depth if they wanted to. Right now, the Browns primary backups are Derrick Kindred at strong safety and Briean Boddy-Calhoun at free safety. Cleveland, in particular, could look to get an exclusive free safety backup, rather than using Boddy-Calhoun, who is a cornerback when he is not playing free safety. But, this is not a priority.
2019 NFL Draft Priority: Low
I would only look to add a safety with a late-round pick. A developmental type player could be a nice depth piece for this position, but overall this unit does not need to be addressed with any sort of high priority pick.
2019 Free Agency Priority: Medium
The only priority in free agency for this position is to re-sign Briean Boddy-Calhoun as the backup free safety. He is a restricted free agent. I would re-sign him and stick with what the Browns have at safety.
The Browns safety position is the strongest unit on the defensive side of the ball. The starting lineup of free safety Damarious Randall and strong safety Jabrill Peppers is one of the most talented young starting duos in the league. With the addition of Randall this past offseason, the Browns safety position was settled and turned into a strength. Randall is a great safety in coverage with the ability to cover in man or be the over the top deep safety to help the backend of the secondary. Peppers is a player who is moved all over the defense, using his athleticism to fill multiple roles for the team. In particular, he is strong in the box as a run defender around the line of scrimmage. This two should be manning the Browns secondary for many years to come.
Derrick Kindred did not have as good a season as he did in 2017. But, he is a solid backup who is similar to Peppers in that he can perform multiple roles for the defense. He can play at the line of scrimmage or as the free safety in the secondary. Briean Boddy-Calhoun is a valuable player for the Browns because he plays corner, but also backups as the Browns free safety. I am comfortable with both of these guys as the backups and so re-signing Boddy-Calhoun should be a priority this offseason. Overall, this safety position does not need any tinkering in my opinion.