With team minicamps and free agency now in the rear view mirror, the Cleveland Browns may have quietly assembled the league’s most formidable defensive line.
While much of the off-season hype has been focused on the blockbuster trade for WR Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland quietly landed former Pro Bowl defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson while also landing former New York Giants edge rusher Olivier Vernon.
Acquired in a relatively low-key pre-OBJ deal for guard Kevin Zeitler, the 6’2, 262-pound former University of Miami standout taken in the third round 72nd overall by the Miami Dolphins, Vernon made the Pro Bowl in 2018.
For the 2018-19 season with the Giants, Vernon ranked tenth in sacks with eight, second in QB hits with 13th, ninth in total pressures with 46. among edge rushers last season.
Vernon did all of this without a generational pass rusher such as Garrett on the other side of him.
All the Browns need from him to do is apply that same pressure and Garrett will clean up. While former second round pick and current Kansas City Chiefs edge rusher Emmanuelle Ogbah was serviceable during his time in Cleveland, Vernon is a much-needed upgrade at a critical position of need for the Browns.
Playing in the same division as Ben Roethlisberger, Andy Dalton and Lamar Jackson, the Browns need to generate and get to the QB consistently if they hope to live up to the lofty preseason expectations that have been placed on them.
The Browns newly retooled defensive line that has three Pro Bowlers in the forementioned Garrett, Richardson and Vernon hope to help Cleveland live up to those high hopes while wreaking havoc in 2019.