Freddie Kitchens: Browns have good defenders too

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Much of the offseason focus in Cleveland has been on the offensive side of the ball.

And why not?

The additions of Odell Beckham Jr. and Kareem Hunt to an offense that already boasted gun slinging quarterback Baker Mayfield, Pro Bowl receiver Jarvis Landry and bowling ball running back Nick Chubb make the Browns' O one of the most intriguing in the NFL in 2019.

Coach Freddie Kitchens wants you to know that Cleveland will be pretty good on defense too.

"(W)e signed some defensive guys that can play some football," Kitchens said Wednesday, via Nick Shook of the team's official website. "We really did. (Defensive tackle) Sheldon Richardson, (defensive end) Olivier Vernon, (safety) Morgan Burnett, we added some pieces on defense, too. Hopefully, you guys in the fall start talking about them a little bit."

Kitchens is correct.

On paper, the Browns' defense boasts playmakers that could form a stout unit under new coordinator Steve Wilks.

Myles Garrett is a star who doesn't get the credit deserved for being a game-wrecking force. Vernon pairs well opposite Garrett as a pass rusher who can stuff the run on the way to the QB and take advantage of single-blocked matchups. The interior addition of Richardson to go alongside Larry Ogunjobi, another under-heralded stud, gives the Browns a solid base. The secondary boasts two young potential stud corners in Denzel Ward and rookie Greedy Williams. And the safety duo of Damarious Randall and Burnett pair well.

Depth could be a question if injuries pile up, but the Browns starting crew looks very good as we sit in the middle of May.

Kitchens noted that the addition of Vernon could help take pressure of Garrett being the only player to disrupt the quarterback every play.

"I think that is one part of it, and he can also help No. 95," Kitchens said. "He can also help Myles by him being on the other side. The more good football players you put around Myles, the better he is going to be, just as is the case with anybody."

When the Browns held their first press conference after the Beckham trade, they sent OBJ, Landry, Mayfield and Garrett to the podium at the same time. Garrett seemed like an afterthought up there as all the questions went to the offensive players. The pass-rushing demon should never be an afterthought. He certainly isn't in the minds of offenses trying to block him.

With the Browns landing more prime-time games in 2019, perhaps the world will come to recognize Garrett as the next generational pass rusher he can become, and the Cleveland defense will get the attention Kitchens believes it deserves.

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