The Cleveland Browns have found their re-vamped starting defensive line for the 2019 season. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Browns will sign DT Sheldon Richardson to a three-year deal when free agency starts.
Former Vikings’ DT Sheldon Richardson intends to sign a three-year deal with the Cleveland Browns when free agency opens Wednesday, a source tells ESPN.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 12, 2019
Cleveland’s opening-day front four now expected to be DE Myles Garrett, DT Larry Ogunjobi, Richardson and DE Emmanuel Ogbah.
The correction to Schefter’s tweet would be that DE Olivier Vernon is expected to start, with DE Emmanuel Ogbah being a reserve.
Richardson was the 13th overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft by the New York Jets. After four seasons with the Jets, they shipped him off to the Seattle Seahawks for the 2017 season. Last year, Richardson played for the Vikings, where he started all 16 games and logged 49 tackles and 4.5 sacks. Here’s some input from Browns film study expert Jake Burns:
Sheldon Richardson isn’t perfect but man is he a massive upgrade next to Larry. He was a big part of the Vikings front that really got after the QB last year. I will give you some clips later today.— Jake Burns (@jake_burns18) March 12, 2019
One of the Browns’ biggest weaknesses last year was that spot next to DT Larry Ogunjobi. Pro Football Focus shows how he impacted the Vikings’ pass-rushing last year more so than defending the run — but he’s still a far upgrade over the likes of DT Trevon Coley and DT Carl Davis.
Richardson recorded 18 run stops on 272 run-defense snaps, good for a run-stop percentage of 6.6%, ranking second among Vikings’ interior defensive linemen last season. Richardson also had 47 total pressures (30 hurries, 12 hits, five sacks) on 407 pass-rush snaps, giving him the 17th-best pass-rush productivity rating (6.4) among qualifiers. Still only 28 years old, the former first-round pick can be an impact player for plenty of teams in the NFL.
What do you think of the Browns signing Richardson? Does this impact whether the Browns should target a defensive tackle with their first-round pick?