A week ago, the Cleveland Browns made Denzel Ward the NFL’s top-paid cornerback.
Since he was drafted in 2018, Ward has earned two Pro Bowl selections (2018 and 2021).
Is it possible another Brown corner might be on a similar trajectory?
After a solid 2021 campaign, Greg Newsome hopes so.
DB’s know how beautiful this is 👀pic.twitter.com/AuCqokhLDH
— Footballism™ (@FootbaIIism) April 21, 2022
The 2021 rookie was strong when on the field, holding opposing quarterbacks to an 85.6 passer rating.
But he hasn’t always been “on the field.”
Throughout his rookie season, Newsome struggled through two injuries: a concussion and calf issue that sidelined him for five games.
If he can stay on the field and take another step forward numbers-wise, he might just earn a Pro Bowl nod.
Roughly nine cornerbacks have been taken in each of the last three Pro Bowls.
That means Newsome would have to be one of the nine best at his position in the game.
Last season, the field consisted of Ward, Jalen Ramsey, Trevon Diggs, JC Jackson, Xavien Howard, Darius Slay, Stephon Gilmore, Marshon Lattimore, and Kenny Moore.
While not all of these players may be household names, each one served as a linchpin to their team’s defense.
In terms of stats, interceptions vary (minimum of two, max of 11).
Of those corners listed, the worst opponent passer rating was 92.7 (Marshon Lattimore).
And all but one (Gilmore) played in at least 15 games.
Also telling is the fact that each corner named to the Pro Bowl came from a different team.
In short, it’s going to be tough sledding for the second-year corner.
To begin with, Ward’s presence alone will make things challenging.
As noted above, none of last year’s Pro Bowl corners shared the same regular season backfield.
That doesn’t mean it can’t happen, only that it’s harder.
As for his opponent’s passer rating, Newsome is certainly in the conversation.
But Newsome would still likely need to lower that number in order to really start turning heads.
Compared to the 2021 field, Newsome’s opponent passer rating would be third-lowest, ahead of only Moore and Lattimore.
But if Newsome stays put in the mid-80s, perhaps he could make up in other areas, like interceptions or tackles.
Unfortunately, Newsome came away with zero INTs last season.
It was an injury-shortened season, but he’ll need to certainly snag at least two picks to scrape the bottom of last year’s Pro Bowl barrel.
Speaking of injury, Newsome also needs to prioritize staying on the field.
Only 12 games of action just won’t cut it.
It’s not going to be easy for the Northwestern product.
That’s not to say impossible, just difficult.
If Newsome starts strong, takes a big leap forward, there’s not much that will stop him (or anyone, for that matter).
But if he puts up the same numbers as last season, he’ll be on the outside looking in.
But while the same numbers might not be enough for an individual award, a repeat Newsome season (with a little more availability) would be huge for the Browns defense as a whole.
Highest graded rookie CB in man coverage last season:
Greg Newsome II (75.9) 🔥 pic.twitter.com/D9op179K6z
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) March 2, 2022
Ward’s presence in the backfield will naturally make any quarterback second-guess a throw, but a second, high-quality corner makes things exponentially trickier.
In a league that’s quickly becoming reliant on speedy outside wideouts, one strong corner is a major defensive boost.
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