In a seemingly aggressive move to try to generate more consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks, the Cleveland Browns have transitioned to the 3-4 defense and hired notorious blitzing defensive coordinator Ray Horton to call the shots this offseason.
They also signed pass rushers Paul Kruger and Quentin Groves and drafted Barkevious Mingo in the first round in this pressurization movement.
There were some questions, however, about how 4-3 defensive end Jabaal Sheard would transition to the 3-4 defense.
“The Browns are extremely pleased with Sheard’s adjustment from a 4-3 end to [3-4] outside linebacker. If the season opened tomorrow, Sheard and Kruger would start on the outside, with [Barkevious] Mingo and [Quentin] Groves coming off the bench.”
With Sheard’s apparently smooth transition to outside linebacker, the Browns have even more depth at the position and should be able to rotate pass rushers to keep them fresh without much drop off in production.
It also makes sense for Mingo to come off of the bench, since his lack of NFL experience likely means he has room for improvement as far as defending the run. Coming off the bench on third downs would enable him to use his raw athletic ability to purely rush the passer.
Kruger has limited experience playing full-time as well, making Sheard even more valuable to the rotation as he has experience playing the run from starting at 4-3 defensive end for the past two seasons.
With free agent addition Desmond Bryant pressuring the quarterback from the interior, the Browns could have the most talented defensive front they’ve seen in years.