The Browns‘ defense is giving fans something to cheer for.
Whether it’s Perrion Winfrey’s contagious energy and enthusiasm, PFF ranking the secondary as the third-best in the league, or just the high of last season, there are lots of reasons for hope.
And the defensive hype is necessary, given that the offense (and head coach, front office, and ownership) is rightfully mired in Deshaun Watson‘s hearings and fallout.
But how good could this defense be this season?
Here are three predictions:
1. Sack Machine
Prediction: The Browns rank in the top five in sacks across the league.
Last season, the Browns racked up 43 sacks.
Respectable and a top-ten figure.
But next season, the Browns defensive line builds on last season by vaulting into the top-five.
For starters, the Browns have a hugely favorable schedule considering opposing offensive lines.
Cleveland plays the Panthers, Texans, Saints, Bills, Dolphins, and Falcons in 2022-23.
Each of those project to field a bottom-12 offensive line, per PFF.
The Steelers project to have the 30th best offensive line — and the Browns get to play them twice.
The Buccaneers, Patriots, and Bengals (twice) are the only teams that the Browns play that PFF also projects to have a top-10 offensive line.
The Browns defense 🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/VWVDw5WdXJ
— PFF (@PFF) May 24, 2022
With Myles Garrett and Jadaveon Clowney prowling the edges, why can’t the Browns finish top-five?
Going off of last year’s numbers, Cleveland would only need to add five more sacks to last year’s total.
Against next year’s lineup, it’s entirely possible.
2. The (Perrion) Winfrey Show
Prediction: Perrion Winfrey becomes a starter, and adds a new dimension to the Browns’ defensive front.
Maybe this is just wishful thinking, but how can you not root for Browns fourth-rounder Perrion Winfrey?
Winfrey climbed his way to the pros, beginning his collegiate career playing for Iowa Western Community College before committing to the Oklahoma Sooners as one of the top JUCO prospects in 2020.
And this prediction has Winfrey continuing to climb.
He’s never been satisfied; whatever level he plays at, he knows there are more floors to ascend.
In year one with the Browns, Winfrey continues to ascend, all the way up to a starting position at tackle.
Here’s a big reason for this prediction: the Browns’ secondary is one of the best in the league, but the defensive front is still missing pieces, according to PFF.
While PFF isn’t as high on Winfrey as I am here, I’ll choose to believe in Winfrey until proven otherwise.
3. Pick Of The Litter
Prediction: The Browns tally over 17.5 interceptions on the season.
Because 18 or more picks would have put the Browns in the top-six in the NFL last season.
Instead, Cleveland tallied 13 INTs, a respectable, if average, number.
But there’s reason to believe that number will have boosted this time next year.
For starters, PFF ranked the Browns’ defensive secondary third-best heading into next season.
That includes THE #1 Coverage unit in the league and the #7 pass rush unit.
— CLEology (@_CLEology) January 11, 2022
But also look at which quarterbacks are on the Browns’ schedule next season.
But other than that?
In fact, several teams (Panthers, Falcons, Steelers) don’t have a starter locked down yet, with a rookie potentially taking snaps.
Could the Browns average just over one interception per game?
With this schedule, why not?