As the Cleveland Browns have overhauled the second level of their defense, third-year player Mack Wilson has much to lose sleep over.
A Chad Henne third-and-long scramble forced the Cleveland Browns to rethink the second level of their defense. From going from B.J. Goodson and Malcolm Smith to completely overhauling their linebacker unit, the Browns gave that room a drastic facelift.
Not only will second-year and ascending player Jacob Phillips look to stay healthy, but they also re-signed Smith in free agency and added Anthony Walker from the Indianapolis Colts. It looks evident the Browns will roll into the 2021 season with Walker and Phillips as their starting backers, but they were not done adding versatility.
The Browns also added safety John Johnson III, who loves to play in the box. But they also landed Notre Dame standout Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, and Tony Fields on the last day of the event as well.
Owusu-Koramoah looks to have the clear path to starting as the weakside linebacker and chess piece from day one, while Fields will have the opportunity to win reps on passing downs and on special teams as a rookie.
The Cleveland Browns will have cuts to concede at the linebacker position
The cost of overhauling the unit will be found on the backend, as players will have to lose their jobs as well. Look for the primary candidate to lose his job to be former fifth-rounder Mack Wilson. While Wilson flashed in a preseason game with two interceptions off of Dwayne Haskins as a rookie, he has brought little to no spark on the field in the regular season during his stay.
It is also damning when Wilson is frequently caught freelancing outside of his assigned fit to allow a cutback lane for opposing running backs to gash. He is an average athlete who struggles in coverage and brings next to nothing against the pass.
When looking at linebackers to get the axe, at least the likes of Sione Takitaki and Tae Davis have shown the willingness and ability to contribute on special teams, an area of Wilson’s game we have never seen. Even as a rookie, a year he won many fans over, Wilson was still a historically bad linebacker according to PFF (subscription required).
And yet he was somehow worse in 2020. It does not help that he felt the need to photoshop his biceps during a workout this offseason either.
The Cleveland Browns are no longer a charity case for a roster spot as they were a destination where undrafted free agents aplenty could find a home. As the linebacker room now consists of Phillips, Walker, Owusu-Koramoah and Fields, the bottom of the roster will be churned. It would be shocking to see Wilson on the roster by the time the regular season rolls around.