AFC North defensive lines ranked from worst to best in 2023

  • Ravens DL isn't what it used to be
  • Browns vs Bengals DL -- Whose is better?
  • Steelers the easy top choice
Cleveland Browns v Baltimore Ravens
Cleveland Browns v Baltimore Ravens / Patrick Smith/GettyImages
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3. Cleveland Browns

This might be another controversial selection, but outside of Myles Garrett and Za'Darius Smith, the Browns were extremely thin when it came to their defensive line last year. Garrett is a premier pass-rusher in the league, posting 18 sacks in back-to-back seasons. He is a force to be reckoned with against running backs but excels in the pass rush.

Opposite Garrett is Za 'Darius Smith who although productive, is on the wrong side of 30. Smith notched a solid 10 sacks and three forced fumbles, quality numbers for the number two pass rusher.

In 2022, Cleveland's defensive tackles were serviceable at best last year. However, free agent acquisition Dalvin Tomlinson will help shore up the middle of the line.

Tomlinson does not make flashy sacks or boast incredible numbers, but his Pro Football Focus grade has never dipped below 74.9 since entering the league in 2017. Tomlinson was a major signing for the Browns, and as one of the most underrated defensive linemen in the league, he will feed off of offensive lines that double-team Garrett.

The sore thumb in Cleveland's front four is Jordan Elliott, who earned an abysmal 40.4 grade on Pro Football Focus last year. As a starting player, this is clearly a huge weakness for the Browns' defensive front.

The interior defensive line was Cleveland's biggest problem last year as they were unable to stop the run, leading to the firing of defensive coordinator Joe Woods. Behind Tomlinson and Elliot, the Browns' depth is project players developing into rotational roles.

Third-round rookie Siaka Ika could begin to make an impact down the stretch, but he will likely be playing limited snaps behind Tomlinson. Tommy Togiai, a fourth-rounder in 2021, is also a name to keep an eye out for as he was productive at Ohio State and had a good amount of draft hype.

Depth behind the starters is what will make or break Cleveland's defensive line, but right now the players look barely serviceable at this point in their career. The trio of Garrett, Tomlinson, and Smith will play the vast majority of the snaps due to this depth problem, but look for young players with juice to come in for aging veterans Smith and Tomlinson.