In Part 1 of our Cleveland Browns training camp preview on outside linebackers, we looked at the three players who will primarily be in the rotation. Today, in Part 2, we take a look at the other three outside linebackers on the team heading into camp.
4. ARMONTY BRYANT - PASS-RUSHING OUTSIDE LINEBACKER
The Browns drafted Armonty Bryant with a 7th round pick in the 2013 draft. As a rookie, he played in the second half of the season and showed some glimpses of his pass-rushing ability.
When Mike Pettine and Jim O'Neil both arrived in Cleveland last year, they commented on how they had studied Bryant from his college days and felt he could assist as a pass rusher in nickel situations, and that his versatility could allow him to be utilized at outside linebacker in a pinch. After a solid preseason and training camp, Bryant had his breakout performance in the regular season in Week 5 against the Titans, when he logged 6 tackles and 1 sack. The next week brought doom-and-gloom for Bryant, though, as a torn ACL ended his season.
Bryant should be a full-go for training camp, but will probably see more work at outside linebacker in camp than he did a year ago, but his versatility of being able to play on the defensive line could compel the coaching staff to activate him over a different reserve player on gameday. Because Bryant is coming off of a serious injury and the team has improved the depth on the defensive line, Bryant will have to fight for a roster spot this year.
Final Roster Odds: 75%
5. SCOTT SOLOMON - RUN-DEFENDING OUTSIDE LINEBACKER
Maybe it's destiny that Scott Solomon ended up with the Browns. In 2012, the Browns traded several picks to move up to draft RB Trent Richardson. One of the picks they traded to the Vikings was No. 211 overall in the seventh round. The Vikings then traded that pick to the Titans, who selected Solomon.
Over the next three years, Solomon bounced between the Titans, Jets, and Buccaneers before the Browns signed him to their practice squad last November. They called him up to the active roster for the final two games of the season, and Solomon made his presence known. In his first game against the Panthers, Solomon had 4 tackles and 1 sack as a reserve. Kevin Jones of Browns.com covered Solomon's memorable day.
Maybe we should start giving some more thought to Solomon starting at outside linebacker over both Barkevious Mingo and Nate Orchard. Solomon saw some first-team reps this offseason on defense, and in mid-June, defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil had very high praise for Solomon and his ability to defend the run:
"Scott is very quickly becoming one of my favorite players on the defense. He embodies everything we talk about when we say ‘Play Like a Brown.’ I think the offense calls him ‘Bloodbath’ because it’s like a heat-seeking missile coming off the edge. I do see him competing with Armonty Bryant once he’s full go at the rush linebacker position. I see him getting a considerable amount of reps on early downs. He’s going to have to earn his reps in later downs in passing situations, but he is definitely going to help us on the edge in the run game."
"I see him getting a considerable amount of reps on early downs" is what stands out to me. Look out for Solomon this August -- he might just be playing with the ones from the get-go.
Final Roster Odds: 80%
6. MIKE REILLY - UNDRAFTED FREE AGENT ROOKIE OUTSIDE LINEBACKER
Mike Reilly took part in the Browns’ rookie minicamp from May 8-10 on a tryout basis, and was signed near the end of May after most of the other tryout players had been signed.
According to the Browns, he finished second at the College of William & Mary’s with 27 career sacks, including 11 last season. Prior to the draft, Hogs Haven, our Redskins affiliate, did a comprehensive scouting report on Reilly. Here is their summary:
Reilly is a Ryan Kerrigan type of player. He is a power rusher who also shows some good quickness and burst. He is strong at the point of attack and will dominate linemen with his lower body drive and upper body strength. He offers value on special teams and has shown consistent production over the course of his career. He offers versatility in his position and where he can be used. He may not have ideal speed, but short area quickness is a plus attribute of his. Technique will help him get better but I am not sure how high his ceiling is. He has potential to be a core special teamer and a backup linebacker, kind of like a Lorenzo Alexander.
I usually envision a team carrying at least four outside linebackers during the season, maybe even five. In that sense, from a positional standpoint, Reilly is in a good spot to be able to showcase his talent during camp. I don't think he'll make the team, but every undrafted free agent type of player is fair game for the practice squad.
Final Roster Odds: ~5%
Given Jim O'Neil's comments in mid-June, our poll today asks whether you think Scott Solomon will be listed as the starting OLB in Week 1.