Despite the Browns being extremely successful on defense last season, there is one position of need for the team on that side of the ball – outside linebacker. Last season, starting OLB Craig Robertson really didn’t cut it, and defensive coordinator Ray Horton even admitted that he only had “an adequate season.” The team needs much more depth here. With that being said, here are the top-10 guys they could be looking at in this May’s draft when they address the need, most likely beginning in the second round.
10. Prince Shembo- Notre Dame
Shembo is the definition of a workhorse, and he’s a mid-round talent that would come in immediately and be one of the most dedicated players on the entire squad. He’s also extremely intelligent, and has the awareness of knowing where the ball carrier is going before anyone else does. This awareness makes up for Shembo’s lack of quickness, which is concerning for a player in Mike Pettine’s defense…Pettine relies on fast, versatile backers. He’s also not very creative in the pass rush and his only move to get to the passer is his bull-rush.
Projected Round: 4-5
9. Adrian Hubbard- Alabama
Unlike Shembo, Hubbard relies very much on beating offensive tackles around the edge, with a small amount of bull rushing thrown in to mix it up every so often. Hubbard is most effective when he is asked to help stop the running game. This is directly due to the length that he has in his arms (34 ½ inches, the longest of any linebacker in this year’s draft class). These long arms allow Hubbard to easily shed blocks and get to the running back with extreme efficiency. While he is effective rushing the quarterback and stopping the run, he is not very good in coverage. He’s not overly agile or quick, and he’s shown a lot of weakness in redirecting himself in open space against running backs or receivers.
Projected Round: 4
8. Jordan Zumwalt- UCLA
Zumwalt’s versatility would give him great potential in the defensive scheme of the Cleveland Browns. He has a lot of experience in his 30 starts at UCLA in both rushing the passer and in coverage. While he is listed as an OLB as a draft prospect, he also has experience playing ILB in college, so there’s a lot of room to move him around to multiple positions if necessary. One main concern with Zumwalt is his playing style. He is known for often playing almost recklessly out on the field, and that often causes him to lose track of the fundamentals, resulting in missed tackles and missed assignments. His play has also been described as violent, so there are some durability issues much like former Browns’ safety TJ Ward.
Projected Round: 3-4