You might not care for some of the players penciled in as starters for the Cleveland Browns in 2017, but for the most part, we know the personnel who will be locked in to their roles. The one big question mark comes at the free safety position. Although the team addressed the strong safety spot with Jabrill Peppers in the first round, the free safety spot remains wide open.
The team tried to address free safety in free agency and the draft, but it didn’t quite work out. Try as one might, it’s pretty tough to fill every hole in just one offseason. When Pro Football Focus unveiled their biggest remaining need for each team on Tuesday, it’s no surprise that the free safety position was listed for the Browns:
While the Browns have roster holes still needing filled and most notably still a question mark at the quarterback position, the biggest need the team has after free agency and the draft is free safety. Cleveland addressed several positions of need this offseason, but one of the team’s biggest weaknesses in 2016 was getting beat deep due to the backend of the defense either busting on the coverage or biting on play action and double moves. The Browns drafted Jabrill Peppers in the first round, but he’ll be used as more of a versatile chess piece that can play all over. Currently, Ed Reynolds and Tyvis Powell look to be contenders for the starting job at FS, but Reynolds posted a poor coverage grade in 2016 and Powell has yet to play a regular-season snap on defense in the NFL.
As much as I loved Ed Reynolds at free safety last year, with a new defensive coordinator in town, that job is wide open. Reynolds is technically the incumbent, but Tyvis Powell has received some buzz after coming over from the Seahawks.
Ibraheim Campbell and Derrick Kindred are also on the roster, but could both be competing for the backup strong safety spot. Trey Caldwell, a fifth-round cornerback who never got to play last year, could see some work at safety. The team might also tap in to the undrafted free agent spot, where Kai Nacua already has a small fan base among the Cleveland faithful.