A couple of offseasons ago, the Cleveland Browns signed safety John Johnson III to much approval. The leader of the Los Angeles Rams stellar defense, JJ3 was expected to take Cleveland’s defense to the next level.
Browns fans set their expectations high only to have them fall to earth pretty quickly.
In 2023, GM Andrew Berry revisited the same sort of well by adding safety Juan Thornhill from the Kansas City Chiefs. You’ll forgive Cleveland fans who are waiting to see the production on the field before getting excited about a free-agent safety again.
Not only will Thornhill have a different defensive coordinator, with a lot of hope that Jim Schwartz is better than Joe Woods, but he also comes in with great coverage skill history, something JJ3 struggled with greatly with the Browns.
According to the NFL Network, Thornhill “just missed” being one of the top 10 coverage players in the league. Of the 10 that made the list, just one is not a cornerback while Thornhill is joined by safeties Tyrann Mathieu and Kevin Byard along with linebacker Alex Anzalone as the non-corners barely missing the list.
Pro Football Focus graded Thornhill out as a good coverage defender, 68.7 last year, but do not have him in their top 50 of overall coverage defenders. The 50th-best defender on their list is graded at 79.6.
Whether you believe Thornhill was one of the best in the league as the NFL Network’s data shows or just a good coverage player like PFF’s grading says, the free agent addition will have to prove it on the field in Cleveland. Until he has a chance to do that, it is exciting to think the Browns have a true coverage player at the backend of their defense.
Until Thornhill proves that they actually have a true coverage player at the backend of their defense, it will remain an exciting hope like it was when Johnson was signed just a couple of years ago.
Do you think Thornhill is a sure upgrade over JJ3? Join the comment section below to discuss