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2020 Cleveland Browns Positional Breakdown: Linebacker

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The eighth installment of the 2020 Cleveland Browns Positional Breakdown will focus on the linebacker room that went younger over the offseason. The Browns let go of veteran and fan favorites Joe Schobert (signed with Jacksonville), and Christian Kirksey (signed with Green Bay). Although, the team did bring in veteran B.J. Goodson who played with the Packers last season. While many people think the Browns have a weak linebacker room, don’t tell that to the guys who think the linebackers on the Browns are ready to prove that while being young, they will have a bigger impact than expected. So without further ado, let’s begin.

Mack Wilson (Signed until 2022, Free Agent in 2023)

2020 Contract: $752K

If anyone in the Browns linebacker room who is ready to prove the doubters wrong about the teams linebacker core not being good, it’s Mack Wilson. The Browns 2019 fifth round pick is ready to continue what he did last year and is ready to be the “quarterback” of the defense this upcoming season.

Wilson last year finished with 63 solo tackles and one interception that according to Pro Football Focus was ranked T-35th (tackles) and (T-14th) for all linebackers in the league. Some people would consider that a good season for a rookie who was drafted 155th overall in the draft.

Wilson is being considered to wear the green sticker on his helmet which designates the guy who will be getting the calls from the sideline and getting guys set up on the defense. Although, there are some analysts who think that giving that role to a second year player is maybe too much of a responsibility, don’t overlook the drive Wilson has to be the best. Browns fans can expect a monster season from the second year linebacker from Alabama who’s ready to prove the doubters wrong that the Browns don’t have the worst linebacker core in the NFL. Offenses better be ready because they don’t want to face a Mack Wilson who’s ready to attack every snap.

Sione Takitaki (Signed until 2022, Free Agent in 2023)

2020 Contract: $915K

One of the question marks that Browns fans have for the 2020 season is how Sione Takitaki will be in his second year after a limited rookie season. Takitaki last season did manage to play in fifteen games but only accumulated 14 solo tackles which was ranked T-106th amongst all linebackers.

It makes Browns fans wonder if the teams fourth round selection last season is going to get more playing time since Christian Kirksey, and Joe Schobert left in the off-season. All signs point to the possibly of him getting more playing time along with right inside linebacker Mack Wilson who went above expectations last season.

When, not if, training camp starts eyes will be Takitaki to see if he is ready for a starting role after the Browns added veteran B.J. Goodson who played last year in Green Bay along with drafting Jacob Phillips from LSU in this years draft. Takitaki will be in an interesting position battle this offseason which Browns fans should keep an eye on moving forward.

B.J. Goodson (Signed until 2020, Free Agent in 2021)

2020 Contract: $2.4M

The Browns going into the offseason needed to add some veteran presence into the linebacker room after Kirksey, and Schobert left for Green Bay, and Jacksonville respectively. They did manage to sign veteran B.J. Goodson to a one-year/$2.4M deal after playing last year in Green Bay.

After the signing analysts and fans wondered if Goodson will get a starting spot or would he be a backup to Wilson and Takitaki going into the season. There’s a good chance he begins the season as a reserve unless Takitaki has a struggle in training camp. Last year for Green Bay, Goodson had 23 solo tackles, which was ranked T-91st by Pro Football Focus, in 15 games for the Packers. Goodson could be a guy the Browns wanted to bring in to being a veteran voice into a linebacker room that’s mainly young for its core. It will be interesting to see what happens with Goodson this year on a one-year flier by the Browns.

Jacob Phillips (Signed until 2023, Free Agent in 2024)

2020 Contract: N/A

As of this article Phillips hasn’t signed his rookie level contract yet but it is known that the Browns third round pick will be with the team until the end of the 2023 season. Phillips was the Browns 97th overall selection from the 2020 draft coming out of LSU with fellow teammate Grant Delpit.

There is a good chance that Phillips will backup Wilson and Takitaki this season along side Goodson since he will be a rookie this season. But, don’t overlook the guy who lead college football last season in tackles on an LSU defense that just came off winning a National Title this past January. Phillips was a highly regarded linebacker coming out of the draft and for the Browns to get him in the third round was a solid pickup for the team. Expect a good rookie season for Phillips in a linebacker room, while mostly young, is a hungry group who’s ready to prove people wrong this year about their experience and the groups age as a whole.

Tae Davis (Signed until 2020, Restricted Free Agent in 2021)

2020 Contract: $750K

When it comes to Tae Davis, the 2019 season doesn’t seem to be one that he wants to remember. While playing in 13 games last season, nine with the Browns & four for the New York Giants, he only managed seven tackles.

After going undrafted in the 2018 draft where he compiled 26 tackles for the Giants, he had a massive drop off last year. Pro Football Focus gave him a 26.9 player grade which is rough to see. Browns fans shouldn’t expect much playing time at linebacker for Davis this season since the Browns have Wilson, Takitaki, Goodson, and newly required Phillips in the room to play a good majority of the snaps.

Summary 

There is a lot of upside for the Browns linebacker room this upcoming season. While the Browns did lose veterans Kirksey and Schobert, the team does have a lot of faith in Wilson and Takitaki to take over the linebacker position this year. Furthermore, with Goodson joining the room, there is a guy who can help the young core with a veteran voice who’s been there and done that in the league.

Along with the addition of Phillips who many have high hopes going into the draft, the linebacker room is poised to have a great season to prove doubters wrong. This is a group to keep an eye on if you’re not only a Browns fan, but a football fan as a whole.

Zach Martin
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