It’s safe to say Cleveland Browns safety Juan Thornhill is feeling pretty good after the team made a trade for Pro Bowl pass-rusher Za’Darius Smith.
The latest move by the Browns gives them a Pro Bowl partner for Myles Garrett coming off the edge. Smith recorded 10 sacks, 44 tackles — 15 for loss — and five passes defended last year with the Minnesota Vikings. In all, Smith has 54.5 sacks to his name over an eight-year career with the Vikings, Baltimore Ravens and Green Bay Packers.
Thornhill reacted to the news with a tweet, praising general manager Andrew Berry and sending a warning to the rest of the NFL.
“That boy AB bringing in them dawgs… it’s almost hunting season,” Thornhill tweeted.
Juan Thornhill Bring Championship Pedigree to Cleveland
Thornhill was one of the big free agent signings for the Browns, taking over the spot previously occupied by veteran John Johnson III. He’s part of a rebuild on the defensive side of the ball after a disappointing year defined by inconsistency.
Thornhill brings some championship experience to the table, having won a pair of Super Bowls with the Kansas City Chiefs.
“When you are a part of a team that has been able to go to multiple Super Bowls and win multiple Super Bowls, you are willing to take that wherever you go,” he said in his introductory press conference in March. “I have the experience winning two of them and being in three so I know what it feels like to be in that big game and I know what it takes to win. That is what I am going to bring with me. I am going to bring that energy, and I am going to bring it to my teammates, as well.”
Browns Have Trio of Strong Options With Za’Darius Smith in the Mix
The Browns now have a trio of solid pass-rushing options in Smith, Garrett and Ogbo Okoronkwo. Smith and Garrett are the likely starters but Okoronkwo will still be prominently in the mix, per Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot.
“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.”
Okoronkwo has limited time as a starter on his resume and just 9.5 sacks to his name over a four-year career. However, the former Oklahoma standout appears to be hitting his stride, with five of those sacks coming last year with the Houston Texans.
Okoronkwo was the assumed starter after signing but has said his mindset doesn’t change if he’s not.
“Nothing changed at all since I started playing in the NFL. I have my routine,” he said. “My approach was exactly the same. I make sure I am ready at all times whether I am playing one snap or 100. I am always going to be prepared to play.”
That’s good news for the Browns, who will need all their guys clicking up front under Jim Schwartz, who plans to put them to work in his attacking scheme.