Tales from the In-Box: DL Edition

With a draft coming up with few picks, Lane Adkins takes a look at the defensive linemen who arrived in exchange for the Cleveland Browns second and third-round choices. Were they worth it? Will they make a key difference?

Q: We have heard from Romeo Crennel that the team will utilize Shaun Rogers as nose tackle and end in the Cleveland defensive scheme. Rogers is a large man and has never played the role, how can he be expected to be successful in such a role, with questionable conditioning?

LA: An in-shape Shaun Rogers could be a dominating lineman for the Browns. Rogers is a disruptive player, who is agile and physically powerful.  He is not experienced in the Cleveland defensive scheme, which will be a learning process for the veteran, but I do not see this as an issue as Rogers possess the quickness, strength and mental capacity to work well in the scheme. As an interior lineman, Rogers is a no-brainer. As an end, Rogers is an interesting proposition, as he has the physical ability to collapse on the opposition and penetrate the line. Rogers should free up linebackers to flow and make plays

Q: With the additions this off-season along the defensive line, the Browns are almost starting to look like a 4-3 defense, rather than the 3-4 we have been accustomed to. Are there any thoughts of changing the scheme with the talent in place now?
LA: Adding Corey Williams and Rogers certainly adds a 4-3 flavor to the Cleveland defense at first-look, but the talent and versatility of these two players translate into something other than being locked into a specific scheme. Williams is quick, aggressive and sports very good physical strength at the point of attack. He has been primarily a 4-3 lineman, but has played in the 3-4 in college and on VERY infrequent occasion while a member of the Green Bay Packers. Rogers has played basically in the 4-3 his entire career, but he is athletic and physical presence to man the middle of the defense. The agility Rogers possess, along with his experience and other physical skills make him much more than a legitimate candidate to play within a new scheme. Additionally, the Browns do run a version of the 4-3, which was utilized approximately 25-percent of the time last season.

Q: Last season we watched the Browns defense play two-gap defense. With the ends primarily failing to penetrate and only holding position at the line of scrimmage, the outside linebackers especially did not receive any cover from the ends. Are Williams, Rogers, Smith and Smith going to change this?

LA: The biggest change could be the ability to penetrate and be aggressive at the point of attack. Williams and Rogers both have demonstrated the ability to push the linemen back. The Cleveland defensive line has not had this type of quality talent in a very long time. Many question the price the organization has paid to secure the new additions, but the weakness was the defensive line and quality player production has been added. Pressuring the quarterback should be much improved, as well as the ability to manage the run. While there are questions within the linebacking corps, the talent along the line should provide an opportunity for the linebackers to flow to the ball and make plays. With Williams, Rogers and Smith at the ends, players such as Kamerion Wimbley, Antwan Peek and Shantee Orr could generate quite the potential for pressure coming off the edges of the defense.

Q: Though the off-season brings quite an upgrade in talent, the depth along the defensive line has to be in question. With a handful of second year players basically filling out the depth, could the team look towards Orpheus Roye or Ethan Kelley to return next season?

LA: Kelley remains a possibility later in the off-season, as he is recovering from major knee surgery. There has been some interest in the improving veteran defensive lineman, but not sufficient interest to sign a deal with a potential suitor. As for Roye, I don't see him returning to Cleveland. Furthermore, Chase Pittman, Melila Purcell, Louis Leonard and Zack West will gain further experience in mini-camp and training camps. If the youth does not show promise, the team could easily add a stop-gap measure type player for depth purposes, but the major contributors are going to be Williams, Rogers, along with Shaun and Robaire Smith.

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