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Browns D-line makes huge jump in rankings

Reinforcements have arrived, and Cleveland still has Myles Garrett, which has the position group trending in the right direction.

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Cleveland Browns Offseason Workout Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns fielded a defensive line in 2022 that consisted of defensive end Myles Garrett and a rotating band of players that left much to be desired.

While Garrett had his usual dominant performance along the way to his second-consecutive season with 16 sacks, he received little support from defensive Jadeveon Clowney (who quit on the team in the latter part of the season), defensive end Chase Winovich (who seemed to lose what little production he had left after cutting his hair), and a group of defensive tackles that did little to put the fear into opposing offense, especially when it came to stopping the run.

Related: Browns WR group ranked in the bottom half of the league

General manager Andrew Berry put in the work in the offseason to address the problems, signing defensive linemen Za’Darius Smith, Dalvin Tomlinson and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo in free agency and, in what might be the biggest move of all, hiring defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.

Those moves along the defensive line are not going unnoticed as Pro Football Focus has Cleveland’s defensive line sitting at No. 6 in their preseason rankings, a major jump up from this time last year when they were ranked at No. 20.

The Browns have had one of the best — if not the best — edge defenders in the league for the past couple of seasons. However, due to the lack of talent around Myles Garrett, the Browns have never really had an elite defensive line.

Since the end of the 2022 season, Cleveland replaced Jadeveon Clowney with Za’Darius Smith at edge defender and also added Dalvin Tomlinson to bolster the middle, which was a weakness last year.

Finally, the addition of free agent Ogbonnia Okoronkwo could be one of the most underrated signings of the offseason, as the former fifth-rounder has graded among the top 30 edge defenders in each of the past two seasons.

This is the time of year for rankings of this type, and while their value can be debated, seeing the Browns ranked so high is still nice. Unlike last season, where much had to go right for the defensive line to be successful, if everyone simply plays to their ability this year the line should be a strength of the team.

This also means that we may have not seen the best of Garrett, the thought of which should give opposing quarterbacks some sleepless nights when they see the Browns on the schedule this fall.

Where do you think the Browns defensive line group should rank right now?