CLEVELAND, Ohio – Part of the Browns’ approach this offseason has been the tried-and-true “If you don’t succeed at first, try, try again.”
Or, as Takk McKinley put it after he signed: “They tried to pick me up three times after I got released (last season), and then they also tried to trade me. I thought the fifth time was going to be the charm. “
The Browns are back, this time with another defensive end, Jadeveon Clowney, who visited the team on Wednesday. Clowney is coming off a season in Tennessee where he played in just eight games and failed to register a single sack. He landed with the Titans after the Browns entered the draft to get it.
However, evaluating Clowney has always been about looking beyond the catch numbers. He’s never had double-digit sacks in a season during his career, and except for back-to-back seasons in Houston when he had 9.5 and nine sacks, the sack production hasn’t been there.
Clowney, however, has generally been a productive pass rusher. Pro Football Focus has given him fast pass ratings in the 70s in four of his last five seasons. According to website data, Clowney, in the first seven weeks of last year’s season, tied for 15th in the league in total pressures, was 11th in quarterback hits, 7th in trouble and tied for the lead in batted passes.
In 2019, Clowney ranked seventh in pass-run win rate among leading defenders. Two seasons ago, the last in Houston, he was 18th in pressure, 14th in trouble and 11th in quarterback hits.
So even though Clowney doesn’t always knock down the quarterback, he has an impact.
It has also been good against the race. PFF ranked him 12th among edge defenders in career stop percentage in 2019 and ninth in 2018. He was his ninth highest rated edge runner against the race in 2019 and he was the second highest rated edge defender highest against the race in 2018.
If the Browns determine that Clowney will be healthy and back to being the player he has been, it makes sense to bring him in to pair up with McKinley’s midfielder against Myles Garrett. It would also create the possibility of drafting a high-lead running back on Day 2 of the draft, say someone like Houston’s Payton Turner, who wouldn’t have to come in and start right away.
I’ve been cautious when the Browns have shown interest in Clowney, making sure I’m judging the player, not just the name. A healthy Clowney could help the Browns.
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