CLEVELAND — Even with the Browns going 11-5 and winning a playoff game in 2020, linebacker was considered a major weakness. Naturally, the team has spent this year's NFL draft trying to bolster that position group.
Cleveland used its fifth-round selection (No. 153 overall) on West Virginia's Tony Fields II. The team obtained the pick after trading one of their fourth-rounders to the Detroit Lions.
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The Las Vegas native Fields spent his first three seasons at Arizona, starting all 37 games while recording 287 tackles and 8.5 sacks. He joined WVU as a graduate transfer last year, and led the Mountaineers with 88 tackles to earn second-team All-Big 12 honors.
The Browns' linebacking core was beset by inexperience and inconsistency a year ago, although young players like Jacob Phillips and Sione Takitaki did make some strides. 2020 leading tackler B.J. Goodson remains a free agent, although the team did re-sign former Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith.
Fields is the second linebacker taken by Cleveland this year. The organization selected Notre Dame's Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah in the second round on Friday, a pick most observers say as a steal.
Browns legends Bernie Kosar and Eric Metcalf joined a young fan on stage to announce the pick, as fans outside FirstEnergy Stadium erupted into a standing ovation.
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