Cleveland: The 14th Best DL in Football?

The other day, I linked to an article from CBS Sportsline's Pete Prisco, in which he ranked the Browns as having the sixth best offensive line in football heading into this season. What about the defensive line?

Last year, I think it's pretty safe to say we deserved to be ranked 32nd in the league. Sure, you can take a magnifying glass and try to say that there was a team or two that were worse than us, but why bother. The bottom line is that we were Bad, with a much-deserved capital 'B'.

Much like GM Phil Savage overhauled the offensive line during the 2007 offseason, he overhauled the defensive line during the 2008 offseason. That overhaul was good enough to get us ranked in the top half of the league -- seemingly out of nowhere. Since we're not near the top of the list, I'll show Prisco's top five teams, all division teams, and the teams that are three spots above and below us:

1. San Diego
2. Minnesota
3. New England
4. New York Giants
5. Dallas
6. Baltimore
11. Pittsburgh
12. Houston
13. Tennessee

Best player: NT Shaun Rogers. Weak link: RE Robaire Smith.

The skinny: The Browns play a 3-4 front, so we'll use the outside linebackers when rating this unit. They are Willie McGinest, Antwan Peek and Kamerion Wimbley. McGinest isn't what he once was, but he's still a good veteran to have around. Peek is a better pass rusher. Wimbley is a player who might be on the verge of playing in a Pro Bowl. The addition of Rogers and left end Corey Williams in free agency gives the Browns some much-needed bulk up front. Shaun Smith is a good backup.

15. Indianapolis
16. Jacksonville
17. New Orleans
24. Cincinnati

We're not ahead of everyone in our division, but we in a lot better shape than we were last season. Seeing teams like Indianapolis and Jacksonville behind us is quite encouraging too. Another thing: while I can't argue about Robaire Smith being our "weak link" since we've added Corey Williams and Shaun Rogers, it's still funny to see that considering he was our "best player" last season on the line.

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