Browns positional analysis: Defensive linemen

Posted Feb. 28, 2011 @ 10:19 a.m.
Posted By Mike Wilkening

This is the sixth in a series of position-by-position looks at the Browns' personnel entering the 2011 season. Here is our analysis of Cleveland's DL situation: 

Overview: The Browns are expected to switch to a 4-3 front this season after six seasons employing a 3-4 scheme. Already, changes have begun along the defensive line. DE Kenyon Coleman and NT Shaun Rogers were released in February, and more personnel moves are likely.

The Browns have one surefire starter in active, productive NT Ahtyba Rubin, who had a breakout 2010 season. But there are plenty of questions thereafter. The Browns' plans in the draft (and perhaps veteran free agency and the trade market) bear watching.

Here's a breakdown of each of the defensive linemen on the roster, in alphabetical order:

DL Titus Adams: He figures to be a defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme and could compete for a reserve role.  

DL Travis Ivey: He appeared in one game for the Browns, making one start at defensive end. The second-year pro from Maryland likely will be a defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme.

DE Jayme Mitchell: Mitchell, who has five years of service, is slated to be a free agent. If he re-signs, the 6-6, 285-pounder could compete for playing time at defensive end.

NT Scott Paxson: The 6-4, 292-pound Paxson signed with Cleveland in January. He could compete for a reserve role inside.

DL Ko Quaye: Quaye was on the Browns' active roster for the final two games of the season but did not play. Quaye (6-1, 307) will compete for playing time inside.

DE Derreck Robinson: A four-year veteran from Iowa, Robinson (6-4, 295) will be a free agent. He played end in Cleveland's 3-4 scheme.

NT Ahtyba Rubin: Rubin displaced Shaun Rogers as the Browns' starting nose tackle and led all Browns defensive linemen with 82 tackles in 2010. He's one of the team's most important front seven players.

DL Brian Schaefering: Schaefering (6-2, 295) started nine games at defensive end, moving into the lineup when Robaire Smith suffered a season-ending back injury.

DL Brian Sanford: Sanford didn't appear in a game after being elevated to the active roster in November. The second-year player from Temple might be best at end in a 4-3 scheme.

DL Robaire Smith: A starting end in Cleveland's 3-4 scheme before suffering a season-ending back injury, the 33-year-old Smith will be a free agent. He has played inside in a 4-3 scheme, too.

Bottom line: This is a position group likely to see some change. Rubin developed into a good starter in a 3-4 scheme and should fit well in a 4-3, too. Finding pass-rush help off the edge looms as perhaps the biggest concern.