The Cleveland Browns defense in 2022 will roll out a group of defensive ends that will be the envy of many teams across the NFL.
The defensive tackle position is another case entirely.
As the roster currently stands, the defensive tackle room consists of Taven Bryan, Sheldon Day, Jordan Elliott, Tommy Togiai, and rookies Glen Logan, Roderick Perry II and Perrion Winfrey, once he gets around to signing a contract.
Of that group, the most experienced are Bryan, who has played in 63 games with 17 starts in his four-year career, Day (three starts in 67 career games) and Elliott (four starts in 32 career games).
Not exactly the second coming of Jerry Sherk and Walter Johnson for those keeping score at home. (And who are old enough to get that reference.)
Don’t tell that to defensive coordinator Joe Woods, the man tasked with turning an unheralded group of players into something between now and the season opener on September 11.
Related: Who is Taven Bryan?
According to Woods, every player is young and unproven at some point, and by the time the Browns take the field against the Carolina Panthers in Week 1, he’ll have the situation worked out (quote via a team-provided transcript):
“That is part of the process. I feel like right now as a defense, we are kind of in that stage where we are developing young talent. Jordan Elliott played for us. He is a 300-pounder. He is moving around really well. I think the lights are starting to come on for him. Signing Tavon Bryan, I remember evaluating him when I was at Denver, and I know he was our No. 1 defensive lineman coming out. He is the same type of guy, as I mentioned earlier with Perrion, who attacks the line of scrimmage and he is athletic for his size. With that combination and then you have Tommy Togiai and you have Sheldon Day – I spoke about Perrion earlier – I think between those five guys, I feel like we will have a good rotation inside”
Woods has been around long enough to read the writing on the wall. Unless the Browns take a one-year gamble on a veteran free agent like Ndamukong Suh, or former Browns Sheldon Richardson or Malik Jackson, the defensive tackle room this fall is going to be populated by the players he is currently working with in OTAs.
That is not to imply that Woods does not have options as he can move defensive ends Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney inside to create mismatches from time to time, freeing him from having to rely on the lesser players on the roster.
Still, if there is one weakness to currently highlight on the defense it is the defensive tackle position, so Woods and the rest of the coaching staff have their work cut out for them this summer as they prepare a group of mostly inexperienced players for what’s to come this fall.