Alex Wright will have to “fight and scrap” for his reps after the Cleveland Browns trade for Pro Bowl pass-rusher Za’darius Smith.
The Browns made the move for Smith on May 12, sending a pair of fifth-round picks to the Minnesota Vikings for the three-time Pro Bowler. It gives the Browns two top-notch options in Smith and Myles Garrett, with Ogbo Okoronkwo still set to play an important role.
The Browns have had their eyes on a third pass-rusher and it was either going to be Smith or Melvin Ingram III, per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. That doesn’t speak mean they don’t have confidence in Okoronkwo.
“Oddly enough, the fact the Browns have a new double-digit sacker in town doesn’t adversely impact Okoronkwo, who will still likely get as many snaps as he would’ve,” Cabot wrote. “The Browns have known all along that they’d acquire a proven third rusher to rotate with Garrett and Okoronkwo, and if it wasn’t Smith, it would’ve been former Rams edge rusher Melvin Ingram III or someone else.”
Who it does impact is Wright, who served as the starter for five games last season as a rookie. Wright did not record a sack and had just 12 pressures in 311 pass-rush snaps. Cabot said that Wright will have to “fight and scrap” to get in the rotation.
Ogbo Okoronkwo Welcomed Za’Darius Smith to Cleveland
Despite his starting spot being at risk, Okoronkwo has embraced Smith being on board and welcomed him with a tweet.
“Let’s eat,” Okoronkwo wrote, tagging Smith shortly after the news broke.
Okoronkwo is still a raw talent and could use some fine-tuning working alongside two veterans like Smith and Garrett. He has started just eight games in his career with the Los Angeles Rams and Houston Texans.
Okoronkwo expressed some excitement about being able to play opposite of Garrett and the opportunities that come with it.
“Playing on the other side of Myles Garrett, I think it speaks for itself,” Okoronkwo said. “He has been one of the best pass rushers in the league year in and year out. Being able to play alongside him will open up a lot of things for me so I am excited about that, as well.”
Browns Rookie Isaiah McGuire Reacts to Trade
Another young defensive end looking to make an impact is rookie Isaiah McGuire, who was selected in the fourth round. He’s looking forward to having another veteran in the room.
“For me, it was definitely exciting. You know, me being a rookie coming in, having the opportunity to learn from a great vet such as Darius as well as the other people in the room is truly an honor and a blessing,” McGuire told reporters during rookie minicamp on Saturday. “I’m excited to learn from those people, pick their brains and just improve overall.”
Like Wright, McGuire has some potential. He led Missouri with six sacks in 2021 and notched 7.5 sacks in 2022. He also totaled 27 tackles for a loss in his final two college seasons.