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CLEVELAND- The Browns are back! (kind of). Saturday marked the first preseason game for the Browns as they got the first look at the first overall draft pick Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars in a 23-13 win.
The feeling of this preseason game was different from seasons past. The anxiousness of feeling out a rookie QB and implementing a new rookie head coach was taken over by the opposing sideline for once.
What replaced that anxiousness was the expectation. The Browns may not have had anything really to get excited about on the offensive end, but they sure as hell had something to be excited about on the defensive end.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah made his debut and did not disappoint racking up seven solo tackles three tfls and one sack.
Koramoah, or JOK as players like to call him, was drafted to Cleveland in the second round of this year’s draft in a move that was stunning.
The Browns got handed a gift with Koramoah at pick number 52. He was ranked as the top linebacker in this year’s draft and projected to go in the top-25 in almost every expert big board. Even the front office was surprised Karmoah was there.
“He was definitely in considerations,” said Paul DePodesta when talking about using their first-round pick on the linebacker. Now, this was because of the Browns’ battered linebacking core that ranked 31st in the NFL last year according to Pro Football Focus.
But even so, Kormoah being available for the Browns at 52 was highly unlikely and they took advantage.
Andrew Berry has been praised for his moves from last year’s offseason, but this year may even be better.
Berry not only added talent, but he also addressed needs. Safety, linebackers and corner depth were the three positions that the Browns had glaring holes in and Berry filled them flawlessly.
Notable Defensive Signings:
SS, John Johnson (signed from LAR) 3-yr/ $33.75 mil.
DE, Takkarist McKinley (signed from LV) 1-yr/ $4.25 mil.
LB, Malcolm Smith (resigned) 1-yr/ $1.21 mil.
CB, Troy Hill (signed from LAR) 4-yr/ $24 mil.
LB, Anthony Walker Jr (signed from IND) 1-yr/ $3.5 mil.
DT, Malik Jackson (signed from PHI) 1-yr deal
CB Greg Newsome (Rookie) Pick 26
LB Jeramiah Owusu-Koramoah (Rookie) Pick 52
DT Tommy Togiai (Rookie) Pick 132
LB Tony Fields II (Rookie) Pick 153
S Richard LeCounte III (Rookie) Pick 169
But the one that could define Berry’s legacy as a GM could be that lucky number 52. The preseason is exactly that, the preseason. We take it with a grain of salt as we should, but there are also times where we don’t give it the respect it deserves.
Even playing against second and third-string players, there was one thing that proved that Koramoah is going to be an elite NFL linebacker: Instinct.
Fans raved and were aw struck by a play by Kormoah made late in the fourth quarter in Saturday’s preseason game.
At first glance, it looks like an atypical tackle for loss, but the Browns were actually in a zone defense that held Kormoah responsible for the middle part of the field. Not only was he able to recover on a screen pass for negative yardage with a monstrous hit, but he also clipped a tight end. He made up 10 yards to somehow stop Contrell behind the line of scrimmage.
The talent and instinct for the position that JOK posses are where his upside lies and it has even caught the eye of a future Hall-of-Famer:
“He kind of put the team on his back at certain times,” Michael Vick said after watching Kormoah’s college career unfold. “That energy. And that’s what you have to do at linebacker, is bring that energy. You’ve got to be vocal. You’ve got to be very enthused about playing that position. He has shown that.”
So how did the Browns get so lucky to get Koramoah in the second?
Before the draft, there were rumors that JOK had developed a heart issue while at Notre Dame and could affect his ability to be on the field.
But there were other concerns as well: Koramoah is smaller than your average linebacker. He certainly is not Ray Lewis or Luke Kuechly and he does not try to be. Koramoah is a hybrid linebacker that can change the way the NFL looks at the position for years to come. At least that is what former defensive coordinator at Notre Dame and current Vanderbilt head coach Clark Lea seems to think so.
“I think that he is the evolution of the game at the second level. I think he is exactly the kind of guy that we’re seeing become more relevant and more coveted, both in college and in the pros… With ‘Wu,’ when I watch that tape, you see explosive athleticism all over the place. Defensively, he does so many things on that film, but there are times where he’s so explosive through the line of scrimmage and I’m talking about him as a linebacker. Now he plays rover for us, which is like a nickel position essentially and that kind of folds in a different skill set. I was so impressed with his second-level linebacker film. The way he found windows to the ball, the way he accelerated in a bent position, it separated him…”
With receiving backs, speedy tight ends and slot receivers becoming more vital to NFL offenses, having a linebacker that is a hybrid can change the game significantly. Guys like Isiah Simmons and JOK could very possibly cause an evolution that we have not seen.
So what does this mean for the Browns?
Well, for starters it looks as if they may have gotten more than just filling a need. It looks as if they have a potential superstar to bolster a position that may be one of the only few weak points on their defense.