Our final positional preview for Cleveland Browns training camp focuses on the four other safeties on the team.
5. Ibraheim Campbell - Backup Strong Safety
Height: 5-11 | Weight: 208 lbs | Age: 25
Experience: 3 years | College: Northwestern
Campbell was a fourth-round pick by the Browns in 2015, but really only played in one game that season. He was thrown into the starting lineup pretty much by default in 2016, and I was intrigued to see what he could do at the strong safety position. He had a reputation for being a very sound tackler who could also make some plays here and there against the pass.
He was the Browns’ starter last training camp and at the start of the regular season. Overall, he made eight starts, but was replaced in the starting lineup half-way through the season by rookie Derrick Kindred. Campbell finished last year with 48 tackles, but didn't have a single sack nor pass defended. He was victimized way too much by opposing teams — if you go back to our film study against the Patriots last year, there are missed tackles or bad instincts in coverage all over the place. In the film room by WFNY against the Bengals, you can see Campbell whiff on both of Jeremy Hill’s long touchdown runs, which are big-time game-changers.
Maybe Campbell can flip the switch, but he really has to dig himself out of a hole to make an impression on new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. On a side note, he seems to be a fan of the latest in sports technology.
Final Roster Odds: 60%
6. Trey Caldwell - Backup Defensive Back
Height: 5-9 | Weight: 185 lbs | Age: 25
Experience: 1 year | College: Louisiana-Monroe
It’s easy to forget about Caldwell, a fifth-round pick from a year ago. He suffered a hamstring at the start of last year’s training camp, which prevented him from showing off his skills or making the final roster. He spent all season on the practice squad until late-December, when he was called up to the 53-man roster. He played in one game -- against the San Diego Chargers — but only saw snaps on special teams. You know what this means, though? The Browns could only win last season when Caldwell played.
Cleveland drafted Caldwell as a cornerback, and he was considered a potential nickelback around this time last year. He received a good pass coverage grade by PFF for his work in college, being labeled as having the "fourth-highest pass coverage grade of any cornerback" in 2016. After missing all of camp and looking at the bodies Cleveland added at cornerback this year, Caldwell finds himself in no-man’s land, which is why I stuck him with the safety label, especially since there is a lack of competition at the free safety position.
Final Roster Odds: 30%
7. Kai Nacua - Rookie Undrafted Free Safety
Height: 6-0 | Weight: 205 lbs | Age: 22
Experience: Rookie | College: Brigham Young
There are a pocket of fans who have really fallen in love with Nacua, an undrafted free agent out of BYU, and its his ball-hawk skills that could shoot him up the depth chart and give him the edge over a guy like Ed Reynolds.
In each of the past two seasons, Nacua has had 6 interceptions. For his college career in total, he had 165 tackles, 14 interceptions, and 2 pick sixes. He also showed a knack for making good returns after those interceptions, and has laid some big hits on players. Scouting reports don’t grade him as well when it comes to making fundamentally sound tackles, and his speed is also a concern. My opinion for a free safety: if you can read the ball well, you’re deep enough anyway where speed isn’t a major concern. Here is a highlight reel of all his picks:
As much as I like Reynolds, the free safety position is far from solidified. I mean, two months ago, we were talking about Tyvis Powell competing for a starting role, and he’s not even with the club any more. Expect Nacua’s fan base to grow with every interception he gets in camp, but as an undrafted free agent, he’s still a long shot.
Final Roster Odds: 30%
8. Justin Currie - Backup Strong Safety
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 212 lbs | Age: 23
Experience: 1 year | College: Western Michigan
The New York Giants signed Justin Currie as an undrafted free agent back in 2015. After spending the year on injured reserve with a broken ankle, he tried again in training camp of 2016, but didn't make the team's final roster cuts. He was then out of action until the Browns signed him to their practice squad last December.
Currie is considered a run-defending strong safety. He started 37 games in college and really loaded up on tackles over his final three seasons at Western Michigan -- 98 in 2012, 113 in 2013, and 105 in 2014. His wrap-up tackling ability could be an asset on special teams, but there figure to be too many strong safeties ahead of him on the depth chart to see a role on defense this year.
Final Roster Odds: 10%
Here are your poll questions for Part 2:
Do you think Kai Nacua will make the Browns’ 53-man roster this year?
This poll is closed
What are your roster expectations for Ibraheim Campbell and Trey Caldwell?
This poll is closed
Campbell & Caldwell both make it
Only Campbell makes it
Only Caldwell makes it
Campbell & Caldwell both get cut