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Cleveland Browns Training Camp 2013: DL Preview (Starting Unit)


With new defensive coordinator Ray Horton coming to town, the Cleveland Browns are abandoning the 4-3 alignment as their base defense again and are going back to primarily using a 3-4 defense. That has changed the duties for the Browns' defensive line dramatically, including the addition of one new player and the removal of Frostee Rucker.


8276_mediumAhtyba Rubin (#71)

6-2 | Weight: 330
Age: 26 | Experience: 6 years
College: Iowa State

Note: Playing defensive end for the first time in career...will also play some nose tackle in rotation.

In his sixth year with the Browns, Ahtyba Rubin will be playing a new position: defensive end. A sixth-round pick back in 2008, Rubin is evidence that even the Browns can sometimes "hit" on those late-round picks.

Rubin's career began in the Rob Ryan era in the 3-4 defense, where he was a backup nose tackle to Shaun Rogers. Rubin eventually got some starting experience at nose tackle in the 3-4, before moving to defensive tackle for the past two seasons in Dick Jauron's 4-3 defense.

Browns defensive line coach Joe Cullen has stated that Rubin will be the team's starting left defensive end. He will also see some reps at nose tackle when the Browns work in various rotations, and if they go with a four-man front, he could be right back at his defensive tackle position from a year ago. When Cullen was asked if Rubin was having any difficulty in the transition to his new role, he stated, "No, not at all."

Job Security: A+
Final Roster Odds: 100%


8276_mediumPhil Taylor (#98)

6-3 | Weight: 335
Age: 25 | Experience: 3 years
College: Baylor

Note: Seeing his first action in a 3-4 defense with the Browns...causes a stir on and off the field.

In Phil Taylor's rookie season, he played all 16 games as a defensive tackle. Before training camp last year, Phil Taylor suffered a pectoral injury. At first, it seemed devastating to think that Taylor's second-year development would be hindered. He was able to recover though and was re-inserted into the starting lineup about mid-way through the season.

Although his reps were a tad limited, getting back into the action will certainly benefit him in year three. If he hadn't played at all, there would certainly be questions about his health heading into 2013.

Taylor definitely isn't afraid to get under the skin of the opposition or play completely through (and after) the play. The Steelers may still have retaliation on their mind from what he did to one of their offensive lineman a year ago. I think fans are generally accepting of Taylor's on-the-field attitude because it gives the defense a bit of an edge. What fans don't like to see is the type of thing that might alienate him from some fans. Taylor seems like the type of guy who doesn't care what many others think of him, though, so we're just going to have to live with it.

Job Security: A+
Final Roster Odds: 100%


8276_mediumDesmond Bryant (#92)

6-6 | Weight: 310
Age: 27 | Experience: 5 years
College: Harvard

Note: One of the Browns' big free-agent signings in 2013...has a lot of potential and all-around talent.

The new addition to the starting lineup for the Browns is Desmond Bryant, who has spent his career playing defensive end and defensive tackle in the 4-3 defense for the Oakland Raiders. Like Rubin, Bryant wasn't some high draft pick by the Raiders when he entered the league in 2009; in fact, he wasn't even drafted.

Bryant was the second-biggest free agent the Browns signed this offseason, but he might be the signing who is worth his weight in gold. Bryant could very well be the team's best defensive lineman, and if his career continues on the upswing, he could be one of the best defensive lineman in the NFL.

Bryant has great power and athleticism to go along with a high motor. You're not going to see this guy mailing it in. Earlier this month, did a great breakdown of Bryant's history with the Raiders and what he brought to the table as a pass rusher and a run stopper. They concluded that Bryant is the perfect fit for what Ray Horton does defensively, and touted all of his assets:

The combination of size, versatility, strength, explosiveness, effort, and awareness that Bryant brings to the table is uncommon to say the least. Expect Bryant to be used in multiple techniques along the Browns’ defensive line for years to come.

Job Security: A+
Final Roster Odds: 100%

When Taylor was hurt last year, there was uncertainty at one spot on the defensive line. This year, there is no doubt that Rubin, Taylor, and Bryant are firmly entrenched in their starting roles; that is despite the fact that there were trade rumors surrounding a couple of those guys earlier this offseason.

Our poll today gauges perception of who Browns fans believe is the team's best overall defensive lineman.