Linebackers and the Browns at NFL Combine 2020: What you need to know

 cleveland.com  02/27/2020 10:03:53   Scott Patsko, cleveland.com

INDIANAPOLIS  The Browns began the 2019 season with veteran starters at linebacker. They also had depth provided by two rookie draft picks, and a free-agent signee.

Today, they just seem to have a lot of questions.

As the Browns prepare for free agency and the draft, linebacker is perhaps the position in need of the most decisions.

With that in mind, heres a look at where the Browns stand at linebacker, and what the draft has to offer:

Who the Browns have now

Joe Schobert seems headed for free agency. Andrew Berry was expected to meet with Schoberts agent during the NFL combine, but it was unclear if that would include a contract extension from the Browns.

Injuries have limited Christian Kirksey to nine games over the last two seasons. Mack Wilson started 14 games and was graded at replacement level by Pro Football Focus. And fellow rookie Sione Takitaki played just 105 snaps at linebacker.

Adarius Taylor, signed as a free agent last season, was among Berrys first cuts.

Urgency of the Browns' need

Urgency is difficult to gauge at linebacker. Do the Browns need linebackers, or do they need to commit to whats on the roster? John Dorsey clearly saw the position as a need last season by drafting Takitaki and Wilson. How Berry sees that duo is to be determined.

Kirksey will cost the Browns $9.9 million in 2020, but only $2.4 million if they cut him. Pair a move like that with letting Schobert walk, and the Browns would likely be looking at veteran free agents instead of the draft for linebacker help.

How strong is the LB group in NFL Draft 2020?

Clemsons Isaiah Simmons is the standout, expected to be drafted in the top 10 picks. The rest of the group might have to way until Day 2 to start coming off the board.

The class is heavy on linebackers that excel in coverage as three-down players, which is good news in a pass-happy league.

Top 5 LBs in NFL Draft 2020

Isaiah Simmons, 6-4, 225, Clemson, first-round projection: Simmons is a freak athlete that is likely headed for a hybrid role in the NFL. He has the ability to play safety, linebacker and corner.

KLavon Chaisson, 6-4, 238, LSU, first-round projection: Chaisson is suited as outside linebacker in a 3-4 due to his pass rushing skills.

Kenneth Murray, 6-2, 238, Oklahoma, second-round projection: Murray is an inside linebacker with sideline-to-sideline range and great closing speed.

Patrick Queen, 6-2, 232, LSU, second-round projection: Queen was an inside linebacker for the Tigers, and excelled in coverage as well as the run game.

Malik Harrison, 6-3, 245, Ohio State, second-round projection: A former HS quarterback, Harrison wasnt asked to cover much at Ohio State, but excels as a SAM linebacker.

Best of the rest

Zach Baun, Wisconsin, second-round projection; Troy Dye, Oregon (2nd); Jacob Phillips, LSU (3rd); Anfernee Jennings, Alabama (3rd); Dele Harding, Illinois (3rd).

What they'll be doing

Today: Interviews from 10-11 a.m.

Friday: Bench press.

Saturday: On-field workouts from 4-11 p.m. on NFL Network.

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