Following the Rookies: AFC North Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns have made some very big splashes the past few years in both free agency and the draft. In the 2020 NFL Draft, the Browns drafted Jedrick Wills Jr, the offensive tackle from Alabama to go along with free-agent pickup Jack Conklin. These 2 pickups helped completely change the offensive line of the Browns from one of the worst to a top10-15 unit. With their 2nd round pick the Browns took LSU safety Grant Delpit who unfortunately tore his Achilles in practice and will not play in a single game this season. I will still be discussing Delpit and his potential impact on the Browns in the future because he was one of my favorite prospects in this draft class.
Jedrick Wills has started in all 9 games he has played in and he has played in 100% of the snaps in all but 1 game this year. He has given up 3 sacks on top of 8 penalties which include 2 holds and 6 false starts. Wills impact is not easily seen by his play, but by the play of the offensive line as a unit. In pass pro, they have only given up 12 sacks and Nick Chubb is averaging 6.1 yards per carry with Kareem Hunt averaging 4.7 yards per carry. Wills has fit perfectly into this scheme as it is a run-first, power offense with a play-action pass game that works when the run game is going. Wills is a very powerful blocker who excels in 1 on 1 matchups where he can just maul whoever is in front of him. His initial punch is matched by his ability to drive defenders back which is exactly what Stefanski wants in his scheme. His feet are also very good as he can mirror defenders when in pass protection. His hands are very powerful, precise, and active in trying to combat pass rushers who have an array of moves. Wills does need to clean up some of his technique as he can rely too much on his pure strength and his mental lapses need to be fixed. He has the same problem in college where he would lose his focus and jump for false starts. Both of these issues can be easily solved with good coaching and Wills becoming more comfortable at the NFL level.
Grant Delpit was one of my favorite prospects in the 2020 NFL Draft for many reasons. He is a ball-hawking deep safety who is elite at making plays on the ball. Since he was injured before the season started everything will be based on his film from LSU, mainly his sophomore and junior seasons. Delpit's play fell off his senior year and I think this was partially because of injuries and partially because he was trying to play safe. His sophomore year is what I think Delpit's potential is. He can play man coverage, play as a deep safety, and even play in the box when needed. He has shown elite range to be able to play sideline to sideline and has elite ball skills which can result in turnovers and passes defended. The one area of his game that needs to improve is his tackling. He can get caught taking poor angles which leads to him having to dive at ankles and often miss tackles. This is something that can improve very easily because he has shown the desire to tackle. I hope he can come back next year at full health and after a year of watching and learning at the NFL level reach his full potential. He would be best as a starting free safety where he can play as a single or 2 high safety and simply be the instinctive ball hawk that he was at LSU. If he can fix his tackling issues he can become an All-Pro safety but if he can't he will simply be a borderline starting safety that will potentially be used in nickel packages when teams are showing pass formations. I am very excited to see what the future holds for this prospect and cannot wait to see him play at the NFL level.