Going into the 2020 season, the Browns roster is loaded with big names. Quarterback Baker Mayfield, running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, wide receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham, Jr., defensive end Myles Garrett and cornerback Denzel Ward. Add free agents right tackle Jack Conklin and tight end Austin Hooper and the Browns are filled with hope once again. Every NFL roster needs certain role players to step up and have what would be considered breakout seasons. Here’s a list of six, five veterans and one rookie.
1. DT Larry Ogunjobi. A third round draft pick in 2017 out of Charlotte, Ogunjobi was ranked the second best DT on the Browns last year according to Pro Football Focus behind Sheldon Richardson. Ogunjobi is a very consistent player. In 2018, he had 50 tackles and 5.5 sacks and in 2019, he had 47 tackles and 5.5 sacks. He played in all sixteen games in 2018 and fifteen games in 2019, missing one game due to suspension for the Mason Rudolph incident. While being able to add pressure up the middle, Ogunjobi needs to be more consistent against the run. With DT Andrew Billings opting out for the 2020 season and Ogunjobi entering his final year of his contract with the Browns, he is poised to have a big year.
2. CB Kevin Johnson. A first round draft pick in 2015 by the Houston Texans out of Wake Forest, Johnson was signed by the Browns this off season as an unrestricted free agent. Known for a being a backup his entire professional career, he did start 19 of 51 career games and two post season games. Johnson won’t replace starting CBs Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams, but in today’s NFL, depth at cornerback is necessary. At 6’0″. 185 lbs., the taller Johnson could supplant Terrance Mitchell as the third corner.
3. WR Taywan Taylor. A third round draft pick by the Tennessee Titans in 2017 out of Western Kentucky, the Browns traded for Taylor prior to the 2019 season. While head coach Kevin Stefanski’s wide zone offense is a tight end and run heavy offense which relies on two wide receivers sets, a third wide out that stretches the field is important. Taylor showed flashes of being that type of player with the Titans. Unlike fellow WR speedster Damion Ratley, Taylor plays special teams, which will add to his value on the roster.
4. LB Mack Wilson. Drafted by the Browns in the fifth round of the 2019 draft, Wilson was forced into the starting lineup due to the injury to fellow LB Christian Kirksey. While he struggled as most rookies do, coming out of college, Wilson was considered the best coverage linebacker by Pro Football Focus. One year of playing experience should help Wilson going into year two. If Wilson can step up his game, the Browns linebacker group could go from a weakness to a strength.
5. TE David Njoku. Drafted by the Browns in the 2017 draft with the 29th overall pick in the first round. After talking to GM Andrew Berry, Njoku decided to rescind his trade request. Because of the heavy use of two and three tight sets in Kevin Stefanski’s offense, Njoku should flourish. NFL defenses will pay most of their attention to two time pro bowler TE Austin Hooper, which will allow Njoku to be a valuable number two tight end. He is tied for the third most receiving touchdowns in his first three seasons with nine and tied for second with four receiving touchdowns in 2018 with the Browns. If Njoku can hold on to the ball, 2020 could be his breakout season.
Rookie S Grant Delpit. While this first rookie class by GM Andrew Berry is loaded, getting Grant Delpit in the second round was highway robbery. A first round talent, Delpit, if used correctly by defensive coordinator Joe Woods, has the potential to become the Browns version of Pittsburgh’s Minkah Fitzpatrick. Because of his tackling ability and his coverage skills, Delpit could be an option as a third linebacker on passing downs. Not to put any pressure on the rookie, but the potential to be the next Felix Wright or Eric Turner is defiantly a possibility knowing DC Joe Woods.
Every great NFL team needs certain role players to step up and be breakout players. Whether they are starters, backups or rookies, playoff teams rely on the entire roster to win. The above list is one Browns fan opinion and all opinions are welcome, so if you want to voice your, please do.