Last year for the Cleveland Browns the interior defensive line was inferior. This group must do its job in order to protect the linebackers.
And that 4-2-5 that DC Joe Woods ran didn’t protect anybody. So, the inevitable happened. Sione Takitaki became injured. So did Anthony Walker and his replacement Jacob Phillips. Cleveland was forced to make a trade and bring in Deion Jones from the Atlanta Falcons. Backups Tony Fields and Jordan Kunaszyk were suddenly the main attraction.
It wasn’t pretty.
In free agency this off-season, GM Andrew Berry has re-signed Takitaki, Walker, and Kunaszyk, who should mainly be a special teams stud once again. Berry also inked Matt Adams who hails as the league’s best gunner.
Coming off the ACL tear, Takitaki might not be ready to go at the start of training camp or even the start of the regular season. Kunaszyk and Adams are mainly special teams demons. Phillips did not prove to anyone he belonged as a starting LB while Walker is the glue to this defense. Fields remains a developmental player. JOK is a given talent.
Even though the LB room is pretty full, is this a group that is ultra-talented? Do they make a lot of tackles? Will Kunaszyk, Takitaki, and Phillips make the final roster?
Enter Iowa Hawkeyes LB Jack Campbell.
If you are familiar with the Cincinnati Bengals, this dude is a lot like LB Logan Wilson who was also a third-round pick and has 223 tackles in the past two seasons. If the Browns decide to draft Campbell with their first selection in the 2023 NFL draft, Round 3, it would be a solid choice and only strengthen a defense that needs to step up more next season.
In his final two seasons in college, Campbell combined for 265 tackles, four picks, nine sacks, forced two fumbles and recovered three fumbles.
Iowa's Jack Campbell is the only linebacker since 2003 to measure in over 6'4, jump more than 37" in the vertical, 10'8" in the broad jump, and run a sub-4.70 40.— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) March 3, 2023
Campbell holds the top NGS athleticism score (89) among LBs at this year's combine.@HawkeyeFootball | #NFLCombine pic.twitter.com/aLgHWndsKj
Why can’t the Browns have a defense that is known for its tackling abilities? Let’s look at one linebacker prospect who would instantly solidify this group.
LB Jack Campbell
Draft projection: Round 3
Browns pick: #74 (Round 3 from New York Jets)
Weight: 249 pounds
Career Tackles: 299
Career Forced Fumbles: 3
Career Sacks: 3
Career Tackles for Loss: 12.5
Career Pass Defenses: 10
Career Interceptions: 5
Career starts: 24
- Tackling machine: 125, 140 last two seasons
- Great instincts
- Ferocious run stopper
- Very athletic
- Imposing body with height and weight
- High school team won two state championships
- Shows great recognition of screen plays
- Great on-field communicator
- Will scrape and fight
- Excellent at wrapping up
- High-hustle player
- Spills the action wide and will neutralize lead blockers
- Great ball skills in coverage
- Careful to close distance to ensure tackling success
- Success in covering tight ends with body size matchups
- 2022 Butkus Award Winner (for best linebacker)
- 2022 William Campbell Award Winner (for best academics, community service)
- 2022 All-American
- 2022 Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year (for Big 10)
- 2022 Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year (Big 10 media award)
- Two Time First Team All-Big 10 (2021, 2022)
- Initial diagnosis movements lack suddenness
- Lacks short area burst when in pursuit
- Not a good hand fighter with larger offensive linemen
- Long-legged which can hinder ability to match in man coverages
- Needs to play off blockers better in the second level
- Not a big sack guy with no moves, but will create backfield havoc
- Bad habit of taking on blocks square which causes him to lose ground
Expert Draft Site Analysis
Jack Campbell was athletic enough to be the most decorated linebacker in college football this season, but his change of direction and hip fluidity is questionable for a modern-day NFL linebacker. With that being said, Campbell isn’t devoid of traits that will translate to the NFL. He has impressive speed when coming downhill, which helps him plug gaps against the run and close on pass-catchers in zone coverage. He’s also arguably the best linebacker at stack-and-shedding in this draft class and has good instincts in zone coverage.