For several years, the middle linebacker position wasn’t a concern with any of the coaches that roamed the sideline. That is because Joe Schobert was the man in the middle.
Schobert’s contract was up after the 2019 season and he let it be known he was interested in the $10 million a year range to remain in Cleveland. The Browns were thinking a lot less expensive, so they allowed him to enter the free agent market.
But now, “Scho-Time” is gone. This week as a free agent, he signed a 5-year $53.75 million contract to play for the Jacksonville Jaguars, a club known for making their defense their number one priority. Schobert got his $10 million a year after all.
Which means the Browns have a hole at the Mike. Here’s a list of who might fill that void.
5. Jordyn Brooks – 6’, 1” 245 pounds
Projected round: 4-5
Awards: Second Team All-American (2019), First Team All-Big 12 (2019)
40 time: 4.54
Total tackles career: 366
Highly-productive four-year starter in college. Had 108 total tackles his senior year. Extremely fast for his size and is a good downhill hitter. Has a ton of upside and will need some coaching in pass coverage, but is a hard hitter and does not miss many tackles. Is not a hand grabber and tackles legs. Very athletic and can roam sideline-to-sideline. A three-down backer that is rangy. Very physical. Outstanding tackler and a good blitzer.
4. Josh Bynes – 6’, 1” 240 pounds
2019 salary: $930,000
40 time: 4.81
Total tackles NFL: 376
Bynes is a solid inside backer. His specialty is in run support, something the Browns sorely needed up the middle of the defense last season. He has a lot of upper body strength and plays well in zone. Is not a great pass rusher so his sack numbers have never been great (4 career). Is a big playmaker and a beast in run defense. Not very fast.
3. Sione Takitaki – 6’, 1” 238 pounds
2019 salary: $675,000
40 time: 4.63
Total tackles NFL: 21
Taken in the third-round of last year’s draft with the 80th pick, Takitaki battled Schobert for the starting middle linebacker position in training camp. The Browns now no longer have Schobert’s services, nor Christian Kirksey who may have competed for the inside job. Takitaki could see a rise come training camp. He played quite a bit on special teams, but was productive when given the chance to play with the defense. Takitaki now has the chance to get a lot of playing time. If he fits well into new DC Joe Woods scheme, Takitaki might just win the position or at least provide quality depth. He is a good run defender and has versatility. Is a hustler and decent in coverage. He is not a great pass rusher but is a man full of energy. Plus, inserting Takitaki into the middle linebacker position, a player already on the roster, would allow the Browns to not waste a draft pick and free up money that would otherwise be spent on another free agent.
2. Kamalei Correa – 6’, 3” 241 pounds
2019 salary: $1,234,041
40 time: 4.69
Total tackles NFL: 75
As far as versatility, Correas brings this to the table. He is well-suited for the inside but can play either the Sam or the Will if needed. Originally a second-round choice of the Ravens in 2016, he anchored the Titans defense for the past two seasons. Is excellent in pass rush and in coverage. Contributed five sacks last year. Correa is a very good pursuit defender and has the closing speed to chase runners. Has some issues with shedding blockers.
1. Kenneth Murray – 6’, 1” 234 pounds
Projected round: 2
Awards: Defensive Freshman-of-the-Year (2017), Second-Team All Big 12 (2018), First- Team All Big 12 (2019), Butkus Award finalist (2019)
40 time: 4.57
Total tackles career: 334
Very good tackling abilities with great speed that can grind another gear if needed. Has some difficulty shedding blockers at times, but will win with leverage. Is a very tough man in general and extremely aggressive. Three-year starter in college. Able to get into zone drops easily and is phenomenal on guarding tight ends but was rarely utilized covering any other position while in college. Would be a steal at number 41.
Out of these 5 players, which would you choose to replace Schobert?
This poll is closed
Kenneth Murray - Oklahoma
Kamalei Correa - Titans
Sione Takitaki - Browns
Josh Bynes - Ravens
Jordyn Brooks - Texas Tech
Player not listed