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2017 Cleveland Browns Defensive Overview: Who’s Locked In For Starting Jobs? What Spots Are Up For Grabs?

By Dale Armbruster

Cleveland Browns training camp begins on Thursday, with rookies and quarterbacks having reported on Wednesday.

The Browns front office invested high draft picks on defense, and Hue Jackson brought on defensive coordinator Gregg Williams to add a new level of energy to the young defensive unit.=

Here is a look at how the Browns could look on defense when the 2017 season begins.

In case you missed it, here is the breakdown of the Browns offense.

Defensive Line

First overall pick Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah will give opposing offensive lines headaches out of the end positions. Ogbah showed significant growth against both the pass and run as the season went on, and will only be helped by the addition of the highly touted Garrett. No, Garrett isn’t the franchise quarterback some wanted, but he will have a major impact on defense from day one.  

Shifting from linebacker is former second-rounder Nate Orchard; he played the end position in college at Utah. He’ll look to bounce back from a season shortened by injury. Cam Johnson also puts his hand in the dirt this year after nine starts at outside linebacker. The duo will battle for time and roster spots with Carl Nassib, who performed well early when healthy. Desmond Bryant is back from injury, looking to recapture the 2015 season that saw him log six sacks.

Local product Jamie Meder will be remembered for a field goal block that sealed the only win for Cleveland last year. He is a standout on special teams and gives Williams another option on the outside and inside.  

Moving into the middle, former first-rounder Danny Shelton is due for another leap forward in his third year. A pair of rookies, third-rounder Larry Ogunjobi and sixth-rounder Caleb Brantley, will have to step up early. Ogunjobi was praised during the draft process for his athleticism, running a 4.97 in the 40. Brantley had a second-day draft grade, but fell to the sixth round due to legal issues. The Browns were satisfied with the resolution, and kept Brantley on the roster.

Prediction: Garrett and Ogbah will start at end, with Shelton and Ogunjobi manning the middle. Brantley, Bryant, Meder, Orchard and Nassib earn the backup positions. Johnson and Xavier Cooper represent the significant cuts at the position. The Browns were 30th in sacks last season; Garrett, Ogbah, and company will change that quickly.

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Matt Medley is co-editor at NEO Sports Insiders, covers the Cleveland Cavaliers, Cleveland Indians and high school sports in Northeast Ohio. Follow @MedleyHoops on Twitter for live updates from games.

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