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Notes from the Browns' defensive assistants after mandatory minicamp

Nuggets from defensive line coach Clyde Simmons, linebackers coach Blake Williams, cornerbacks coach DeWayne Walker, and safeties coach Jerod Kruse.

NFL: Cleveland Browns-Minicamp Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

After looking at what the Browns’ offensive assistants had to say at the conclusion of minicamp, now it’s time to look at what the defensive assistants said. Note that we also covered defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ minicamp presser here.


Defensive Line - Clyde Simmons

  • DE Myles Garrett is everything that Simmons and the rest of the club expected.
  • Simmons believes that DE Emmanuel Ogbah is a "classic left defensive end" and that he's still learning his spot and getting used to putting his hand in the dirt vs. standing up as a linebacker. Similarly, DE Nate Orchard is also transitioning to defensive end. If you recall, Orchard played linebacker as a rookie in 2015, but sat most of 2016 with an ankle injury.
  • If there was one player who Simmons has tried to “send a message to” this offseason, it’s been rookie DL Caleb Brantley.

Simmons says that it's all about effort for Brantley, which is not unlike many rookies who enter the league who have their own impression of what effort is. The good news is that Simmons believes that Brantley has already received the message loud and clear: “Absolutely, [the message] is getting through,” said Simmons. “From the time he stepped in for minicamp until he stepped off the field today was night and day.”

  • Some quick-hitters on the rest of the linemen: DL Larry Ogunjobi can play nose tackle and at the 3-technique. DE Carl Nassib will still have a big role on defense. And lastly, he praised DL Desmond Bryant, but noted that he “needs to learn how to play our way,” which is an indicator of picking things up after missing all of last year and also being in Gregg Williams’ defense now.

Linebackers - Blake Williams

  • Although there might not be a true “starting middle linebacker” in this line-up, right now, that guy is LB Tank Carder, although they look forward to the competition from some other guys, including LB Joe Schobert and LB Dominique Alexander.
  • If you read the post on Blake’s father’s comments, you’ll know about the position versatility that LB Jamie Collins is begging for, including wanting to play some free safety. But during a mini-skills competition at the end of minicamp, a bunch of non-quarterbacks couldn’t hit a net in the right spot from 20 yards away. Collins got it right away, and it was noted that he was a former high school quarterback. Blake had nothing but praise for Collins too, acknowledging how “easy” Collins makes playing the game look.
  • Here is what Williams said about LB Christian Kirksey’s role for 2017 compared to 2016:

“What [Kirksey] was doing last year is more similar to what we are asking him to do this year. Obviously, there is a schematic change, but if you look at what he was being asked to do last year and where he was playing within that scheme, it is more similar to what he is doing right now at that WILL position. He has been great. He has some instincts and some playmaking ability. We all saw that last year. He was a great special teams player early in his career as he developed into this. At that WILL position, I always tell talent evaluators, scouts, stuff like that is that is if you are a great fourth down player, you should be a great WILL linebacker. If you are a great fourth down player, you should be a good third down player and you should be a good WILL linebacker, and you are seeing that with him already. Same thing with him is we are able to move those positions around so you can’t get a beat on it. They are kind of interchangeable and you see him getting a grasp for that and doing that.”

Defensive Backs (Corners) - DeWayne Walker

  • Walker said that although Gregg Williams will make the final decision, he believes cornerback is the best spot for Jason McCourty on the Browns. He called McCourty a pro and a technician who understands the game well.
  • Although CB Jamar Taylor is soft-spoken, his leadership comes through due to his work ethic.
  • The cornerbacks need to be versatile:

“It is a pretty versatile scheme so just based off of how he feels we are by the time camp’s over with or week to week, it is pretty versatile in terms of being aggressive or taking some heat off of them. I think time will tell how well we are outside, what style he wants to focus on.”

Assistant Defensive Backs (safeties) - Jerod Kruse

  • The safety position is full of a bunch of young guys who are fighting to earn a spot.
  • With S Jabrill Peppers, Kruse said that Peppers "tracks balls in space as good as anybody we have seen," speaking mostly about punts but also a touch on defense as well.
  • They are still taking things slow with S Calvin Pryor since he just got here compared to everyone else, but he had an interception on his second play on the final day of minicamp. They think he is jumping at the challenge along with the other young guys in the room.