The Cleveland Browns added Edge Rusher Za’Darius Smith through a trade with the Minnesota Vikings. The Browns sent a 2024 fifth-round pick and a 2025 fifth-round pick in exchange for Za’Darius Smith, a 2025 sixth-round pick, and a 2025 seventh-round pick.
Browns’ Front Office Wins In Another Big Trade
The Browns’ General Manager, Andrew Berry, did it again. For the past two seasons, Berry has added proven talent through low-cost trades. He has acquired Amari Cooper for a 2022 fifth-round pick, Elijah Moore and the Jets 2023 third-round pick for the Browns’ 2023 second-round pick, and now, Za’Darius Smith, a three-time Pro Bowl selection. Smith is coming off a fantastic year for the Minnesota Vikings and now gets to line up opposite Myles Garrett.
Last season Smith recorded 55 Quarterback Hurries which was second in the league amongst Edge Rushers. He even outperformed Myles Garrett in that category while playing a similar amount of pass-rushing snaps. The only Edge Rusher ahead of Smith was Micah Parsons. Smith also recorded ten sacks in 2022, tied for 16th among Edge Rushers.
The Browns lost Jadeveon Clowney this off-season but found a way to upgrade the position with little talent left in the Free Agency pool. Clowney has had his fair share of injuries during his time in Cleveland. Last season he only played 494 total snaps and missed five games. Even when Clowney was healthy he was inefficient while rushing the Quarterback. Clowney registered career lows in Sacks, QB Hits, and QB Hurries for any season he played more than 425 snaps.
Other Off-Season Acquisitions
In addition to trading for Za’Darius Smith, Cleveland signed Defensive Tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, and Defensive End Ogbonnia Okoronkwo through Free Agency. They also drafted Defensive Tackle Siaki Ika from Baylor and Defensive End Isaiah McGuire from Missouri.
Both Tomlinson and Ika are space eaters up the middle. They won’t beat interior linemen with quickness or speed but have the strength to take on double teams and allow their Defensive Ends more one-on-one opportunities. Okoronkwo wasn’t a starter for the Texans last season but was very efficient as a pass rusher. He received an 81.9 pass-rushing grade from PFF on the season off of 268 pass-rushing snaps. That was good for the 16th-best of any Edge Rusher last season. Rookie Isaiah McGuire led the Missouri Tigers in sacks in each of his last two seasons and was a second-team All-SEC selection in 2022.
The Browns clearly viewed their Defensive Line as a weakness and addressed it with these acquisitions. They allowed 135 rushing yards per game on the ground last year and 4.7 rushing yards per attempt. Both were 25th in the NFL. They also allowed 22 rushing touchdowns last season, tied for thrid most in the league.
With a new and improved defensive front and one of the better secondaries in the league, the Cleveland Browns’ defense could be one to fear if they can stay healthy.
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