2. Upgrade needed at linebacker
The Browns head into 2020 with a loaded roster, except for linebacker. While there is a ton of potential at the position, very little has been proven except for second-year player Mack Wilson. While Wilson was a strong rookie player, he excelled with the mentorship of Joe Schobert who is now a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Schobert often helped Wilson line up properly, but with a full offseason, Wilson should have plenty of time to dive into the playbook.
While Berry brought in big-name safeties, offensive lineman, and tight end, the position he didn’t address in free agency which many expected was a linebacker. The Browns did draft Jacob Phillips, a rookie from LSU in the third round who is expected to compete for a starting job. However, he’s competing because of a lack of talent at the position more than high expectations.
The Browns appear to be building towards the 4-2-5 scheme, which means they only need an additional linebacker for most plays with Wilson. Sione Takitaki, B.J. Goodson, and Phillips will all be battling for that spot, with none of three having much experience. Takitaki is a second-year player who saw the field very little last season and Goodson comes from the Green Bay Packers never having more than 61 tackles in a season.
Many thought a player like Nigel Bradham was a no brainer with his past relations with Berry. Truthfully, with nothing done at this point, the Browns must believe they have enough talent to win games at the position. You may see a late addition if there was a surprise veteran cut, but expect Wilson, Phillips, and Takitaki to get most of the reps with Goodson being called on for running situations only.
Linebacker is not a position that is highly valued by analytical regimes, but this position group will have to perform at a high level for the team to be successful. The Browns have been poor at stopping the run for so long, and it can be demoralizing for the entire team when a team can line up and run it down your throat.