Sheldrick Redwine Jersey

Director of College Scouting Steve Malin:

On S Sheldrick Redwine:

“We are excited to add him to be a new addition to the organization. He was a local kid from Miami and played at the University of Miami. He was a two-and-a-half year starter, came into the University of Miami as a corner and then converted over to safety. Just like we said, it is a great opportunity. This is where the scouting department makes a football team – [second and third] day of the draft.”

On if Redwine is more of a fit at SS or FS:

“The one thing about Sheldrick is he gives you flexibility. He can play high or low. There is some flexibility and scheme of what we can do with him.”

On benefits of versatile players in coverage:

“The game is a coverage game. You have to have physicality, but you also have to be able to have guys that can cover. We feel like he gives us the flexibility to do that stuff. He has a physical presence but also he has good ball skills and can play in coverage for us.”

On if Redwine played special teams at Miami:

“Anything that we do as a staff and as a personnel department, we always create a vision for a player. In this case, we feel like he can come in and create competition at the safety position. He has versatility. He can play free or strong for us and play the big nickel, but also I think it is important as you build a championship team that you take into consideration that they have special teams value. I think that is very important.”

On the team’s interaction with Redwine:

“We just got off the phone with him and let him know that we had selected him. We have our personnel department, and we have a couple guys – (Vice Player of Player Personnel) Alonzo (Highsmith), (Assistant Director of Scouting) Glenn Cook and (Assistant General Manager) Eliot (Wolf) – they obviously have connections down in Miami so there is a lot of familiarity with him in our organization.”

On if Redwine made a 30 visit:

“No, we didn’t bring him for a visit.”

On if Redwine has higher upside because he used to play CB:

“Anytime you have a corner that has that type of experience that converts over to safety, obviously, it gives you the flexibility for coverage. It could be a match-up situation on the inside slot or it could be a tight end, but obviously, that is a positive.”

On keys top identifying players on Draft Day 3:

“Traits. Traits. When you are building your 53 man roster, you are looking for positive traits that can help you build a championship team. This is where you make your roster. This is where you make the biggest impact of the draft is the second and third day where you build quality and the midlevel of your roster. “

On writing and preparing his scouting reports:

“There are different stages. Right now, we are in Stage 5, which is the draft. There are four [additional] stages obviously. Everything is important in the process of our department. Extensive video evaluation, and obviously, we put the personnel and the troops on the ground to go evaluate the players.”

On LB Sione Takitaki:

“Takitaki is a tough son of a gun. I’m excited about having Takitaki because of his physical presence and what he brings to this organization. Obviously, there is a lot of exposure that all of us in the personnel department got on all these players.”

On Takitaki’s additional traits:

“He is intelligent. Comes from a good program. He has some leadership traits. Those are important factors in what we look for in the athletes. There are a lot of variables that go into the process, but obviously, we felt really high about Taki and his presence and what he brings to a defense.”

On selecting Takitaki when projections may have had him going later in the draft:

“If you like somebody, go get them. It is really what it is, and we felt comfortable with him. Regardless, we feel like he can come in and make an impact for our football team and compete.”

On Redwine saying he likes to hit:

“You are looking for dogs. You are looking for alphas on defense. Obviously, you can see what we are trying to do is we are trying to build a championship team. All of us have come from winning organizations from Green Bay to New York to New Orleans and Seattle with (General Manager) John (Dorsey) in Kansas City. We understand what it takes, and it takes a special person to get you over the hump.”

On talking with coordinators about players and skillsets that fit their scheme:

“You communicate with everyone with the organization on both sides of the personnel and coaching side. We are going to draft and develop players. Our coaching staff is a big part of that in the development stage and playing them.”

On the Browns’ first three picks being defensive players:

“Usually historically, two thirds of the draft is offensive personnel and a third is defensive personnel, but for some reason this year, it kind of flipped. There was more defensive personnel that was available, and you kind of see that with how things have unfolded. The board just comes apart, comes down in pieces and layers and it is amazing to sit there and watch how things come to you. You have to be patient, you have to exercise caution but you also have to be aggressive when you need somebody.”

On if there are certain traits across the three defensive players taken, specifically as it relates to looking for ‘dogs and alphas’:

“Absolutely. It sure does. It is a DNA. It is a DNA. Plain and simple, you are just looking for guys that love the game, that are passionate about the game. That is the ingredients for success.”

On working with Dorsey and his traits:

“Very diligent. Very thorough. Very detailed. Demanding. Perfectionist. All of those descriptive adjectives, that is what I deal with on a daily basis with him. He is outstanding to work for. You learn a lot. You just kind of just sit back and you learn. We obviously come from different organizations, but there is one common thread that we are looking for and that is winning.”

On if Redwine and S Eric Murray are competing for similar roles:

“At this point, let’s let the chips fall where they are and let them compete.”

On if the Browns are focused on improving the physicality of the defense:

“We want to be a championship caliber organization and football team. We want to put the best 53 guys on the roster and out on the football field, and that gives us the best chance to win. That is what we are here for is to win championships. Our goal is to obviously win the division, then get into the playoffs and bring the Lombardi Trophy back home.”

On Redwine’s primary position at Miami:

“He played free. He played free safety, but he has versatility because he has played in the slot and the nickel, also.”

On conversations between the personnel department and coaching staff regarding players fitting into scheme:

“We work with the coaches on that. Obviously, you have experienced personnel people that understand schemes and what we are looking for. Criteria, we sit down with the coaching staff. Obviously, we sat down with (Head Coach) Freddie (Kitchens) and his staff when they were all in place, sat down and really went into detail and discussion of what they are looking for. It did not change the way that we went and evaluated players, but it kind of gave us a better idea of guys that fit our scheme. Are they a four-down or a three-down? Are they a sub (package) player? Are they a nickel player? Are they a base down? There are so many factors that go into a process of evaluating players.”

On working with Kitchens:

“Outstanding. Outstanding.”

On what is discussed with Kitchens:

“They are in the trenches. They understand that the game is evolution. It is always constantly changing. When you have the little slot guys and then the next year you have big slot guys, the game is constantly changing. You have to be able to adapt with the game.”

On if the personnel staff was aware that this year’s draft class would have a higher number of defensive prospects:

“Yes, sir.”

On if the staff took into account the draft class’ strengths in all phases of the offseason:

“I think any good organization has an idea of future and upcoming drafts to prepare for that. To answer your question, yes. There was some thought into that. We are sitting back and we are looking at the draft, the free agency and making decisions of where the resources need to be allocated.”

Sione Takitaki Jersey

PROVO — Former BYU linebacker Sione Takitaki’s journey to the National Football League has been a bumpy one.

But Friday, he arrived.

The Cleveland Browns selected Takitaki in the third round — the 80th overall pick — and he became the latest Cougar linebacker to be selected on Day 2 of the draft, one year after former Cougar Fred Warner was taken in the third round by the San Francisco 49ers and five years after another former Cougar, Kyle Van Noy, was picked in the second round by the Detroit Lions.

During his time at BYU, Takitaki dealt with plenty of adversity, having served suspensions and having sat out the 2016 season after pleading guilty to misdemeanor theft.

But by the time he was a senior, Takitaki had gotten married and turned his life around on and off the field. Last season, he switched positions, from defensive end to linebacker, where he displayed his playmaking abilities.

“I showed all the NFL teams that were talking to me that I’ve moved past that, being a team captain, taking care of school and being in a happy marriage,” Takitaki said. “I moved past all those knucklehead days.”

Going into the draft, Takitaki was optimistic that he could be selected in the third round but he wasn’t necessarily thinking Cleveland would be the team to call his name.

Takitaki was watching the draft on TV Friday night with his wife, Alyssa. The Los Angeles Rams had just made their pick and Takitaki needed to use the restroom. Cleveland was next on the clock.

“I never really talked to Cleveland in the past except at the combine,” Takitaki said. While he was in the bathroom, he received a call from Cleveland.

“I jumped right up. I didn’t have to use the restroom no more,” he said. “It was pretty funny. It’s something I’ll always remember.”

Browns assistant general manager Eliot Wolf praised Takitaki’s resilience.

“He is a success story at BYU,” he said. “You talk to anyone there, they didn’t think he was going to make it his first year. He completely turned his life around.”

Wolf was impressed by Takitaki’s play during the Cougars’ 24-21 upset of then-No. 6 Wisconsin last September.

“He was an absolute wrecking ball. If you weren’t looking at him going in, you would have begun to notice. It was really exciting to watch,” Wolf said. “This is a physical football player who plays with violence. That separated him from the other linebackers in this class. Sione was easily the highest player we had rated up there (at 80).”

Takitaki is the first BYU player ever drafted by the Browns.

“I’m very excited for Sione,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. “He will fit perfectly with his talents in Cleveland with a really good coaching staff. Sione is a versatile athlete and really took advantage of his experience playing three different positions for us. He will just continue to get better.”

Takitaki is confident that he can make an impact on Cleveland’s defense.

“What makes me a great linebacker is that I can play inside or outside,” he said. “I’m willing to come in and fit in where the team and the coaches need me. I’m pretty comfortable playing both. That’s what makes me a unique linebacker.”

The 6-foot-1, 238-pounder from Fontana, California, finished his BYU career with a memorable performance, recording a career-high 19 total tackles in the Cougars’ 49-18 drubbing of Western Michigan in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

That performance tied him for No. 4 in school history for tackles in a single game and the most in a BYU bowl game.

On the season, Takitaki eclipsed the triple-digit mark for tackles on the season, finishing 118. He became the 68th BYU player to post 100 or more tackles in a single year.

Takitaki built on that momentum by acquitting himself well at the NFL combine, the Senior Bowl and the East-West Shrine Game as his draft stock continued to rise.

Now, he’s heading to Cleveland.

“The Browns gave up 78 rushes over 10-plus yards last year, including nine rushing touchdowns, a Tecmo Bowl-esque big play problem area that can’t continue in 2019 if they want to unleash a potential takeaway combo of a great pass-rush and ball-hawking secondary,” wrote ESPN’s Chris Sprow. “Takitaki adds competition at linebacker, where run stops will be a clear focus.”

SALT LAKE CITY — The winding road for Sione Takitaki to the NFL finally has a destination: Cleveland.

The former BYU linebacker was selected by the Browns in the third round of the 2019 NFL draft Friday. He was the 80th overall pick.

“Takitaki is a great human story who watched his game take off last season and went from an ungraded prospect to a potential mid-round choice. He’s a three-down defender as a traditional weakside linebacker and will only improve with experience,” Draft Analyst’s Tony Pauline wrote.

Takitaki has his best year as a Cougar in 2018, when he led BYU with 118 tackles, including 74 solo stops. He also had three sacks, four quarterback hurries, three pass breakups and a forced fumble.

The 6-foot-1, 238-pound defensive end turned linebacker missed half of 2015 and the 2016 due to suspension but finished his college career with 237 total tackles, 14.5 sacks and 13 quarterback hurries in becoming one of BYU’s most trusted defenders.

He served as a team captain for BYU in 2018 and was the lone Cougar to participate in this year’s NFL combine.

In assessing the pick, ESPN’s Chris Sprow wrote, “The Browns gave up 78 rushes over 10-plus yards last year, including nine rushing touchdowns, a Tecmo Bowl-esque big play problem area that can’t continue in 2019 if they want to unleash a potential takeaway combo of a great pass-rush and ball-hawking secondary. Takitaki adds competition at linebacker, where run stops will be a clear focus.”

Historical context: This is the second straight year a BYU linebacker has been selected in the draft, after Fred Warner was a third-round pick by the San Francisco 49ers last year. It’s also the third time in five years a BYU ‘backer has been selected: Kyle Van Noy was a second-round choice by the Detroit Lions in 2014.

Measurables: 4.63-second 40-yard dash, 24 reps on bench press, 37-inch vertical jump, 125-inch broad jump, 7.21-second 3-cone drill, 4.28-second short shuttle at the NFL combine.

Scouting Takitaki: “Takitaki has tweener traits that make his scheme fit tough to project at the next level, but he flips a switch and competes with terrific play speed, which will give him a chance to earn a role on special teams while he finds his footing on defense,” wrote The Athletic’s Dane Brugler.

Greedy Williams Jersey

One of the newest members of the Cleveland Browns doesn’t even know what jersey number he’ll wear yet, but he has a bold prediction for how his rookie season will end.

Cleveland is going to win the Super Bowl, says former LSU cornerback Greedy Williams, the Browns’ second-round draft pick.

“I know one thing — that the Browns are going to the Super Bowl this year. That’s a fact,” he said on a conference call with reporters (via ESPN) after Cleveland on Friday made him with the 46th overall selection in this year’s NFL draft.

Williams isn’t the only one with high expectations for the Browns this season, after stellar rookie campaigns by quarterback Baker Mayfield and running back Nick Chubb, as well as aggressive offseason roster moves, including the additions of offensive weapons Kareem Hunt and Odell Beckham Jr.

[Browns excitement is a thing. But team ‘has got to perform,’ says owner.]

All that has the oddsmakers liking the Browns, although maybe not quite as much as Williams. Bookmaker Bovada gives Cleveland 12-to-1 odds to win the Super Bowl, behind the New England Patriots (7-1), Kansas City Chiefs (7-1), Los Angeles Rams (9-1) and New Orleans Saints (9-1) and tied with the Chicago Bears.

Williams is a polished man-to-man defender with top-flight speed who could line up opposite Denzel Ward, a Pro Bowl cornerback and the Browns’ top draft choice in 2018.

Williams had a premonition on that front, too.

“Oh, my God,” he said. “Me and Denzel, we are going to tear up the league. You can go man on the outside all day, and we will lock down those receivers. Denzel is a Pro Bowl corner, came in his rookie year and did what he needed to do. I know he’s going to prep me up and get me ready to do the same thing. Possibly we can be the two Pro Bowl corners in the league playing for the same team.”

Coming into the draft, multiple analysts ranked Williams as the top cornerback available, but he dropped to the second round after his run defense was questioned by draft evaluators.

Greedy Williams played off as if he was shocked at the question: Was the LSU defender the best cornerback available in the NFL draft?

“What?” Williams said twice with a smile. “I played two years at LSU with eight picks. Cornerbacks I’m competing with that’s up there with me have got seven… So, stats don’t lie. Like I said, I’m the best. They know I’m the best.”

The stats most likely were not random — Williams’ recitation of his own eight career interceptions and the guess-who-it-might-be example of seven.

Seven interceptions just so happens to be the career total for Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker, the player who was chosen over Williams for the Jim Thorpe Award for nation’s top corner in December.

They’re the two cornerbacks most have projected being taken off the board first, and the order fluctuates depending on the outlet.

But Friday afternoon, following LSU’s pro day at the Tigers’ indoor practice facility, Williams felt there was no debate at all between him, Baker or any other corner.

“I don’t pay attention to it,” said Williams, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound Shreveport native. “I know I’m the best. It’s statistically proven.”

In 2017, Williams led the Southeastern Conference with six interceptions — the first LSU player to lead the league since Craig Steltz in 2007 — and his 4.37-second 40-yard dash tied for ninth among all athletes at the NFL combine, and it was more than a tenth of a second faster than Baker’s 4.52.

Despite the blistering time, Williams still had a few questions to answer for NFL scouts, since he didn’t do any other drills at the combine.

Williams said he “wanted to be comfortable here at LSU” to “pick up where I left off,” and he completed the broad jump (10 feet, 4 inches), vertical jump (36 inches) and bench press (eight reps of 225 pounds) on Friday morning before a mass of scouts that represented all 32 NFL teams.

Williams’ broad jump would’ve ranked 21st among defensive backs in the combine; his vertical, 16th; his bench press repetitions, second to last.

But Williams still has to answer questions about his tackling, which was brought up often during his talks with NFL teams.

“My response to them is I’m not afraid to tackle,” said Williams, who recorded 33 tackles as a redshirt sophomore in 2018, before sitting out the Fiesta Bowl and foregoing his redshirt junior year to enter the NFL draft. “I just never have really been in a position to make a big tackle. I’m always in man-to-man. They understood where I was coming from. … Like I told the scout, ‘Put me in a Cover 2 and let that tight end run in that zone, and I’ll show you what I can do.’ “

Saints college scouting director Jeff Ireland didn’t need much convincing.

“He’s a good player,” Ireland said. “He’s been consistent this year in just about any game tape you throw on. He can really read the route. He’s long and certainly a good athlete.”

LSU coach Ed Orgeron said NFL coaches and scouts have asked him about Williams’ ability to tackle, and Orgeron said Williams only played two years at LSU and has room for growth.

“I do believe he needs to improve on tackling,” Orgeron said, “and I believe it’ll be no problem, and I believe he’ll be a great pro.”

Orgeron mostly mingled with NFL personnel, chatting and answering questions while 12 of his former players worked out on the field.

Orgeron said some asked about tight end Foster Moreau, some about Williams. When inside linebacker Devin White, a projected top-five pick, began working out, Orgeron said White “controlled the whole crowd.”

Coaches approached Orgeron and told him White reminded them of Patrick Willis, a former All-Pro linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers whom Orgeron had coached at Ole Miss.

“They’re both great character men,” Orgeron said. “Both very fast, tough and physical. Obviously, Patrick was an All-Pro. And I do believe that Devin’s going to do that and more.”

White, LSU’s first Butkus Award winner for nation’s top linebacker, had already ran a position-leading 4.42 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, so he didn’t do anything other than position drills at pro day.

“Nobody needed to see no more speed,” White said. “I got speed on tape. I got speed at the combine.”

White said that six NFL teams visited with him ahead of pro day, and he said that he’ll be flying out to interview with several more teams in the weeks leading to the NFL draft on April 25.

White is aware of his place in history, and he has spoken several times about his desire to be the greatest by all measures. An LSU linebacker hasn’t been picked higher than No. 10 overall, which was where the Phoenix Cardinals selected Eric Hill in 1989.

But he said he’s told his agent not to tell him about the calls his agent receives from NFL teams leading up to the draft, because White said teams can change their minds come draft day and he wants “to go in with no expectations, but expecting for the best.”

Even so, White did talk business. He said he recently signed a sponsorship deal with Nike, although he didn’t disclose the deal’s amount, and he spoke about draft day as a player who knew how much he was worth.

“Teams know that ‘We’ve got to jump on this guy if we really want him,'” White said. “Because if not, you’ve got to wait five years until free agency to pick me up again. The price is going to go up. I’m gonna be looking for $100 million then.”

In the conversations White has had with NFL teams, he’s said they’ve asked him to prepare for being a leader among tenured professionals, which will be a lot different than mixing it up with teenagers and players who can’t yet legally drink.

“‘You’re going to come in and there’s gonna be a guy that’s been here for eight years, got a whole family,'” White said teams have told him. “‘You can’t look up to him. You’ve gotta lead him. You’re the middle linebacker.’ So, I’ve gotta take that mentality, like, ‘Man, I’m coming here to take your job. I’m coming in here to lead your defense, lead your team, because I’m a linebacker.'”

Is there any question that LSU’s permanent team captain can do that?

“He has that confidence about himself,” said Orgeron, who said he will be attending the draft in Nashville, Tennessee, along with White and Williams. “I do believe that when he goes to the NFL, he’s going to know his drills, he’s going to be confident that he can do it.”

Desmond Harrison Jersey

BEREA, Ohio — Hue Jackson admitted that naming undrafted rookie Desmond Harrison his starting left tackle for Sunday’s opener against the Steelers wasn’t easy.

“I agonized over this decision because it’s a huge decision,” he said. “At the same time, I have confidence one, in our coaches, and in the player. He’s worked hard. He wants this opportunity. He’s demonstrated that.”

He’ll start in future Hall of Fame Joe Thomas’ old spot while Joel Bitonio moves back to left guard. Odd man out is No. 33 overall pick Austin Corbett, who goes from starting left guard to the bench for now.

“Here we are playing against our division rival, one of the best teams in the AFC in the opening game,” said Jackson. “You look at it two ways – you leave Joel out there and stick a left guard in there as a rookie who can play; or you leave Joel where he has been a very good player, a very dominant player and play a guy who is a really good player, we feel, and has tremendous upside.

“You go back and forth on that. When you look at it, I think this is the best decision for our organization and the team.”

Harrison (6-6, 305), who went undrafted out of Division II West Georgia largely because he failed a drug test at the NFL Combine, has very little experience against big-time competition.

He played two years at Contra Costa Community College and seven games at Texas in 2013 before not taking a snap for the Longhorns in 2014 because of multiple suspensions. He then spent the next two years out of football working for a moving company in North Carolina while getting himself together mentally. Finally, he made his way to West Georgia, where he started nine of 10 games last season and dominated his league.

The Browns took a gamble on him as an undrafted free agent despite his checkered past, including multiple failed drug tests at Texas. But sources told cleveland.com that Harrison’s only used marijuana, and all of his coaches from high school on up rave about his character.

He missed the first 11 practices of training camp and the first preseason game with a toe injury, but then quickly worked his way up to No. 2 left tackle behind Bitonio. When the starters rested in the preseason finale in Detroit, Harrison got the nod and performed well enough to face the Steeler on Sunday.

“Obviously, he’s talented enough,” said Jackson. “This is hopefully going to be our lineup throughout the season. He’s handled everything really well. I feel good about those five guys.”

Harrison, supremely confident, said he knew way back in rookie minicamp that he’d be starting in Thomas’ old spot this season.

“I expected it,” he said. “That’s what I’ve been working toward. To win a starting job.”

Jackson knew in OTAs that Harrison was special.

“You could see it,” he said. “Then it got be to how bad did he want to be the left tackle? He just kept working. It’s one heck of a story, but it doesn’t matter until gameday. He has fought through some things just recently, and that said a lot to me. He’s ready to go.”

Jackson said Harrison’s meteoric rise to the top of the depth chart after sitting out football for three years before last season means that “he’s very talented. He’s earned it. He competed. He’s the best left tackle for us to play right now. Obviously, Joel is the best left guard. We feel like we’re heading in the right direction.”

Harrison’s coaches, including former Longhorns coach Mack Brown, all describe his freakish athletic ability, and one longtime NFL scout told cleveland.com, “I had a first-round grade on him. There are not 16 better starting left tackles in the league than this kid.”

Jackson has seen it firsthand.

“He’s long. He’s athletic. He can run. He’s tough,” said Jackson. “He’s all of the things that you want. He just hasn’t done it yet at this level. You’re not going to replace what arguably is the best left tackle to play the game here for the Cleveland Browns in an offseason.

“At the same time, we have to put the best player out there that gives us the best chance. Right now, it’s Desmond.”

Tyrod Taylor has the utmost confidence in his blindside protector.

“He’s very talented,” he told the team’s website. “Yes, he’s young but his skill level is definitely not one of a young player. He’s competed his butt off throughout training camp. He showed the coaches and his teammates he’s ready for the opportunity.”

Jackson vowed that the Browns will keep a tight rein on Harrison, who’s in Stage One of the NFL’s substance abuse program, because of his off-the-field issues.

“He’s been outstanding since he’s been here,” said Jackson. “He’s handled that part of it right or else he would not be where he is. We’re looking for the total player because we need guys that are going to be dependable, accountable and are going to be there all of the time.”

Jackson said the Browns have a Plan B if it doesn’t work out, which could either be plugging Greg Robinson in at left tackle, or sliding Bitonio back over.

“Right now, we don’t anticipate that,” he said. “We anticipate Desmond being the left tackle.”

Bitonio acknowledged it will be different going from Thomas to an inexperienced rookie.

“It’s the first time I’ve played with a rookie left tackle, so it’s different for sure,” he said. “We’re getting there and he’s shown he can play in this league and we just want to make sure we communicate well and we’re on the same page with everything and if we know who we’re blocking, we’ll be in the right spot.”

Bitonio noted early in the week that Harrison is the most athletic player on the line.

“He looks like a left tackle in this league,” he said. “He plays the game the right way. He plays hard. If you watch any of his tape in the preseason or in college, he really finishes guys. He’s coachable, he’s learning. He’s going against Myles (Garrett) in practice every day and he’s battling and he’s doing his best to be the best he can be for the Browns.”

Bitonio downplayed the fact Harrison is so raw, citing his preseason experience and some playing time at Texas.

“It’s obviously going to be a big jump Sunday when you’re playing in front of 60,000 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, a vaunted defense, but I think he’s ready,” said Bitonio. “The coaches and upper management have made that decision and they trust him and they know he’s going to get better every rep. He’s a confident, kid, though. I know he feels like he belongs out there.”

Genard Avery Jersey

BEREA, Ohio — Whether it is inside or outside, linebacker Genard Avery just wants to be a difference-maker for the Cleveland Browns.

Listed as an inside linebacker out of the University of Memphis, Avery will follow the simple philosophy of making plays wherever he is slated after the Browns selected him with the 150th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft last Saturday.
“They know that I am versatile,” Avery said in a conference call with the Cleveland media after being drafted. “They know that I can play outside or inside linebacker. It really does not matter. I am comfortable with wherever they want to put me. I am just ready to start.”

In the 6-foot-1, 248-pound Avery, the Browns get a playmaking linebacker with a penchant for wreaking havoc behind the line of scrimmage.

During his four years with the Tigers, Avery registered 232 total tackles, including 170 solo stops and 62 assists, and 45.5 of those tackles went for lost yardage. Those 45.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage resulted in 216 lost yards for opponents.

Additionally, Avery forced four fumbles, two each over his last two collegiate seasons, recovered one turnover and defended seven passes. Avery retuned two interceptions for defensive touchdowns during his junior season.

When it came to rushing the opposing quarterback, Avery registered at least five sacks in three of his four seasons at Memphis. After totaling five sacks as a freshman, Avery had only three in 2015. However, Avery collected five sacks as a junior and punctuated his senior year with a career-best 8.5 sacks for 66 lost yards.

Over his four-year career, the Grenada, Mississippi, native registered 21.5 sacks.

“I just work hard at it,” Avery said. “The stats and the numbers, it really doesn’t mean anything to me. I’m an effort guy, and I try to finish to the ball every time. In my pass rush, I work hard at it. One thing about pass rushes and getting to the ball is it is all about effort.”

Avery is very much looking forward to pairing his skills as a pass rusher with that of the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, defensive end Myles Garrett.

“It feels great,” Avery said. “He is a monster. He has so much destruction. I am excited to be a part of this organization. I am so grateful that they gave me the opportunity. I am just ready to showcase my skills and do whatever I can.”

In addition to a physically imposing pass rusher, the Browns are getting a cerebral player, one who finished his degree in Organizational Leadership in just 3.5 years.

“That was my main goal to get my degree before football,” Avery said. “My mom was hard on me in school. She said, ‘If you do not have the grades, you cannot do this or that’ growing up.

“That is one thing my mom, she wanted me to do. I promised her that I was going to get my degree before this process. I ended up taking extra hours and doing what I had to do. I graduated in December. Now, I am here.”

The Cleveland Browns could be in the market for a starting linebacker after cutting Jamie Collins, but they may already have the replacement in the building.

The Cleveland Browns had a lot of problems with their linebacker group during the 2018 regular season. Christian Kirksey suffered a season-ending injury in the middle of the season, Joe Schobert missed games, and Jamie Collins continued his inconsistent play.

Entering the off-season, it’s expected that the Browns will make some moves to add depth and talent to the linebacker corps. They will also have one new starter next season.

The Browns decided to cut Collins after his inconsistent play did not warrant his large salary. The Browns saved around $10 million by cutting Collins, which is money they could reinvest into the position.

The linebacker free agent class is strong at the top, with players like Anthony Barr, Jordan Hicks, C.J. Mosley, and K.J. Wright headlining the group. All four players would be upgrades at the position for the Browns and would help bolster the defense.

However, the Browns may not be willing to pay big money to any of those free agents, even though they are in need of a starting linebacker. If the Browns defensive coordinator Steve Wilks and linebackers coach Al Holcomb are confident in Genard Avery, then they may not see adding a starting linebacker as a major need.

A fifth-round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft, Avery’s play last season was a pleasant surprise for those that follow the Browns. The 23-year-old played in all 16 games, including five starts, and made 40 total tackles, five tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, one forced fumble, 14 quarterback hits, and four passes defended.

Avery moved around the defense, starting the season playing on the edge before starting in place of Kirksey as the WILL linebacker. Although he played much better playing off the edge, he seemed to improve playing in space as the season went on.

Although Avery thrived playing on the edge last season, it will be hard for him to get consistent snaps there in 2019. The Browns made a big move by adding Olivier Vernon and he is expected to be the starter. As of right now, Emmanuel Ogbah is still on the roster and should play a decent amount of snaps in a rotation at defensive end. So for Avery, there may not be as many snaps on the edge as there were last season.

The biggest question about starting Avery at linebacker is if he can handle playing in coverage regularly. He had a lot of trouble covering last season – as did most of the other linebackers – which allowed tight ends and running backs to pick apart the Browns defense. If the Browns want to give Avery an expanded role, he will certainly have to improve his coverage ability.

The one approach the Browns could take with Avery is to play him in a hybrid linebacker role. Avery was one of the best rookies in the league last season at getting in the backfield and pressuring the quarterback. He accounted for 42 pressures last season, according to Pro Football Focus.

Similar to Gregg Williams’ defense last season, Wilks wants his linebackers to be aggressive. If Avery is named a starting linebacker, Wilks could decide use Avery as a frequent blitzer. Coaches always want to play to their player’s strengths, and rushing the quarterback is one of Avery’s best strengths.

It may be too big of a jump for Avery to become a regular starter on the Browns defense next season. He made a lot of plays, but he still has holes he needs to work on to become a reliable starting linebacker.
If Avery can work on improving his deficiencies this off-season, there is a case to be made that he could be a starting linebacker next season. And instead of spending a bunch of money at the position, the Browns may decide to see if he has what it takes to be a starting linebacker.

Terrance Mitchell Jersey

The Cleveland Browns defense will be receiving a much needed shot in the arm this week with activation of Terrance Mitchell off of the IR. Mitchell suffered a fractured forearm back in week four against the Oakland Raiders. At the time of the injury, he was playing the best football of his five-year career.

When John Dorsey was collecting veteran defensive backs this last off-season Mitchell was an after-thought. Although he was coming off his best season as a professional in Kansas City, where he finished with four interceptions, the other two cornerbacks that Dorsey brought in, E.J. Gaines and T.J. Carrie, were both more coveted.

From the beginning of training camp, it was evident that Money Mitch came to play. He quickly rose up the depth chart and was starting opposite Denzel Ward almost immediately. Along with Damarious Randall, the Browns defensive backfield was solidified.

The off-season makeover that Dorsey orchestrated was truly impressive. With Gaines and Carrie providing depth, what was once a weak point was now a strength.

To start the season the defensive backs were causing turnovers at a record pace, with Mitchell causing three himself in the first three games. Then came the injury. Suddenly the depth began to dissipate.

Gaines has since been placed on the IR due to multiple concussions, and Carrie has played up and down as the starter. Randall has even had to come down from his free safety position to play cornerback in some spots.

Terrance Mitchell has been one of the best players on the Cleveland Browns defense, but a fractured forearm will force the coaches to make a decision on his replacement.

Cleveland Browns cornerback Terrance Mitchell left Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders early due to a fractured forearm.

Mitchell has been one of the best players on the defense this season. His physical style of play has made it hard for opposing offenses, especially considering his knack for forcing fumbles. On the season, Mitchell has made 19 total tackles, two forced fumbles, one interception, three passes defended.

After bouncing around teams at the start of his career, general manager John Dorsey decided to sign Mitchell to a three-year, $10 million contract this off-season. Seen as a depth player, Mitchell made play after play to earn the starting job. And he continued to play well during the season, creating a great duo with Denzel Ward.

With Mitchell expected to be out for the rest of the season, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and the rest of the Browns coaching staff now need to find a way to replace Mitchell’s production.

The Browns secondary seemed like a strength heading into the season. After drafting Ward and signing Mitchell, E.J. Gaines, and T.J. Carrie, the Browns built good depth at cornerback. Add in Briean Boddy-Calhoun, and the Browns cornerbacks seemed lethal.

Cleveland Browns cornerback Terrance Mitchell could miss the remainder of the 2018 season after suffering a broken forearm in Sunday’s 45-42 loss to the Oakland Raiders.

Mitchell was carted off the field after hurting his arm when defending a Derek Carr pass intended for Jordy Nelson. The Browns moved E.J. Gaines to Mitchell’s spot in the defense.

“We had to move some guys around,” head coach Hue Jackson told reporters. “Had some guys do some things they hadn’t done in a while. But that’s pro football.”

Mitchell signed a three-year contract with the Browns this offseason. He had 19 tackles, two forced fumbles and an interception through the first four games.

Gaines will see a majority of the work outside with Mitchell on the shelf. Rookie Denzel Ward will also have an uptick in responsibility, while T.J. Carrie moves into the third corner slot.

As a team, the Browns have picked off seven passes and rank fifth in passer rating against (79.5).

Chris Hubbard Jersey

Chris Hubbard is used to winning when the Browns travel to Pittsburgh, but that’s because he’s used to playing for the home team.

Hubbard played his first four years in Pittsburgh before signing with the Browns this offseason, losing just one game to the Browns in that span, zero at Heinz Field. This Sunday, he’ll return to his former home in enemy colors.

“I was over there so long, they were pretty much family,” Hubbard said. “Being on the other side now, I know what to expect from Pittsburgh. ‘Cause I’ve been there.”

For the last 15 years, the Steelers have known what to expect when Cleveland comes to town, too. The Browns haven’t won a game in Pittsburgh since 2003, when Hubbard was 12 years old.

But a lot has changed since then, or even since last year. The Browns overhauled their roster, coercing Hubbard to switch allegiances in the process.

“It’s fun,” Hubbard said of playing for the rivalry’s underdog. “They don’t know what to expect. We’re a different team. We’re a different unit.”

Hubbard hopes to use his familiarity to help his current teammates beat his former ones. He’s practiced against the Steelers’ pass rush and stood in their huddles. He knows how Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Tomlin think. Now his orange-and-brown clad teammates do, too.

“I always tell (my teammates) different nuggets and things that they can work on,” Hubbard said. “Being around (the Steelers) for so long, you just know them personally – what works for them and what does not work for them.”

What works for all AFC North teams is physicality. Strength of will carries more importance during these divisional matchups. These games are violent; players get hurt. So how does Hubbard feel about punishing his former family members?

When the Cleveland Browns and general manager John Dorsey signed right tackle Chris Hubbard to a five-year, $37.5 million contract this off-season, it was a surprise to many.

Hubbard did not have extensive starting experience, starting only 14 games in four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

After starting ten games in 2017, the Browns felt that they saw enough in his performance that made them feel comfortable giving him the large contract in the off-season.

It also helped Hubbard that Todd Haley, his offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh, became the offensive coordinator for the Browns.

But after nine games this season, it has been apparent that Hubbard was not worth the contract he received, as he has struggled to limit pressure. The Browns offensive line has given up the most sacks in the league with 35.

Most of the pressure has come from the edges, as Hubbard and Desmond Harrison have struggled this season. Hubbard has allowed six sacks and 19 hurries this season, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

Despite him signing this off-season, it is hard to imagine Hubbard staying in Cleveland past this season. With Baker Mayfield under center, the Browns are going to want to limit the amount of hits he takes, and having Hubbard as the starting right tackle is concerning.

The biggest hang-up would be how much the dead cap the Browns would carry if they released or traded Hubbard after the season. But the Browns signed Hubbard with most of the guaranteed money at signing, giving the team more flexibility throughout the length of the deal.

According to Spotrac, if the Browns were to release or trade Hubbard before June 1st, they would only have $3.2 million in dead money in 2019 and save $4.1 million. For as large of a contract that Hubbard signed, that is not a lot of money dead money to carry. And with the amount of cap space the Browns are expected to have in the off-season, that money will not hurt them in the short-term.

Haley being fired also does not help Hubbard’s case, as the former Browns offensive coordinator was likely Hubbard’s biggest supporter. Without Haley, there may not be another proponent in the organization for keeping Hubbard on the roster.

Greg Joseph Jersey

BEREA, Ohio — While kickers around the NFL were missing field goal attempts and point-after tries on Sunday, former Florida Atlantic University specialist Greg Joseph was soaking up some free time in Florida.

However, just 24 hours later, Joseph found himself in Berea at a tryout for the Cleveland Browns, and despite competing against several NFL veterans and 25 missed kicks over his four years at FAU, he earned a contract with the team.

“Just living the South Florida life,” Joseph said Tuesday. “I was out by the water, just having some fun with some buddies, relaxing, watching the games. Nothing crazy.”

The Browns signed Joseph and waived second-year kicker Zane Gonzalez after the latter missed four kicks in Sunday’s 21-18 loss to the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, which brought his failed attempts to five over the first two games of the regular season.

And after spending training camp with the Miami Dolphins, Joseph is “absolutely” ready to make the transition to the NFL regular season.

“Been working a lot. Been busting my butt,” Joseph said. “I’m ready to give everything I’ve got. I know that there’s still room for me to get better, and I’m aware of that. That’s something I’m keying in on and definitely looking to improve my game on here and keep elevating it.”

During Joseph’s four-game stint with the Dolphins, he made all three of his field goal tries and both extra-point attempts before being released at the end of the preseason.

“I learned under players and coaches there to become a man of routine, and that’s worked for legends that have kicked in this league, and basically, just stay that way,” Joseph said. “Like I said, ‘Stay in the middle.’ I learned that there, too. If I make three kicks in a row, I’m not going to get too high, and if I miss a couple, I’m not going to get too low. Staying somewhere in the middle.”

“Staying somewhere in the middle” is exactly what Joseph did during Monday’s tryout.

Initially, Joseph missed a field goal from 56 yards wide to the right, but on a second attempt, he put it through the uprights. By his count, Joseph made six of his seven field goal attempts before moving onto kickoffs during the workout.

“I felt like I hit the ball well,” Joseph said. “Just came out here and focused on hitting my ball. There’s obviously some great competition out there, but didn’t watch them. Just focused on me and ecstatic to be here. Ready to give everything I’ve got and have a great time here.”

Joseph spent Tuesday acclimating himself to working with long snapper Charley Hughlett and holder Britton Colquitt, and by Thursday’s game against the New York Jets at FirstEnergy Stadium, he expects to be up to speed.

“I believe I’m here for a reason,” Joseph said. “You can look at it any way you want, but I believe I got here for a reason and I’m going to look to the biggest thing is proving you belong and believing you belong. That plays big in a kicker’s head, and I believe that’s something I’ll work to and get better at.

“‘Where ever coach needs me to,’ that’s gonna be my answer every time, and I believe I have a big leg and have been working on accuracy big time, but wherever coach needs me to, I’m sure he has a number in his head, and wherever tells me, I’m going for it.”

After kicking mistakes cost the Cleveland Browns against the New Orleans Saints in Week 2, the team has already replaced Zane Gonzalez.

Gonzalez has been informed he has been released by Cleveland, per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Browns are signing Greg Joseph, who spent the preseason with the Miami Dolphins before losing the battle to Jason Sanders.

Gonzalez was dealing with a groin injury before missing two field goals and two extra points Sunday. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, he will have an MRI Monday.

Considering he missed a possible go-ahead extra point with under two minutes left in the last game as well as a possible game-tying field goal with eight seconds remaining, the Browns had little choice but to move on at the position.

He also missed his only attempt in the Week 1 tie against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The 2017 seventh-round pick went 15 of 20 on field-goal attempts last season but was much worse to start the 2018 season.

Cleveland worked out multiple veteran kickers Monday, including Blair Walsh and Cairo Santos, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network. However, they ended up with Joseph, who is an undrafted, free-agent rookie.

The 24-year-old played four years at Florida Atlantic, finishing 15 of 21 on field goals as a senior as well as 64 of 68 on extra points.

Kareem Hunt Jersey

AMHERST, Ohio — Kareem Hunt peeked through window blinds.

It was early Sunday evening when a reporter knocked on the front door of his mother’s house about 35 miles outside of Cleveland.

Stephanie Riggins, Hunt’s mother, opened the door. She closed it almost as fast when the reporter identified himself, making it clear to USA TODAY that uninvited guests were not welcome.

Watching from inside the house was her youngest son, with his signature braids and muscular 5-11, 200-pound frame. He is the star NFL running back who has kept a relatively low profile since he was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list and released by the Kansas Chiefs on Nov. 30 after TMZ published a graphic video that shows Hunt shoving and kicking a 19-year-old woman.

Now not only is Kareem Hunt’s football career in jeopardy, but so is his reputation, even in a part of Ohio where he grew up being celebrated for his exploits on the field and where his father and other family members are known for something else — their extensive criminal records.

Hunt’s father, also named Kareem Hunt, has been arrested at least 35 times in northeast Ohio and multiple times on charges of domestic violence, according to records obtained by USA TODAY. Most of the felony convictions were for drug-related offenses. He was sentenced to a combined nine years in prison on nine felony convictions, but it’s unclear how much time he spent in jail for dozens of misdemeanor charges.

On Friday, the senior Kareem Hunt, 47, is due in court for nonpayment of court costs, records show. The court appearance stems from a 2012 conviction for disorderly conduct and violating a protecting order, which prohibits an abuser from harassing a victim of domestic violence.

Yet until recently, the junior Kareem Hunt, 23, has avoided serious trouble and was on his way to another 1,000-yard rushing season for the surging Chiefs after he led the NFL in rushing yards as a rookie in 2017.

“I knew it was too good to be true,’’ Ava Hunt, Kareem Hunt’s great aunt, told USA TODAY. “I knew it, I knew it.”

In April, Ava Hunt’s son, Rashan Hunt, was sentenced to 23 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter.

While Kareem Hunt grew up in Willoughby, a suburb of Cleveland, and ascended from a three-star prospect at South High School, to an NFL prospect at the University of Toledo and to a third-round draft pick by the Chiefs in 2017, several members of his family faced criminal charges.

“He’s a miracle,’’ said Lorenzo Hunt, Kareem Hunt’s cousin, who was sentenced in 2004 to seven years in prison for aggravated robbery and a felony firearm offense. He added that several family members squandered their own athletic potential. “For Kareem to make it, it’s not just validation for him, it’s validation for all of us who tried our hardest and failed or succumbed to bad situations and poverty.’’

Kevin Riggins, who family members and records say is Kareem Hunt’s uncle, is serving a 10-year prison sentence for drug-trafficking and other drug-related offenses. A cousin, Gregory E. Hunt, is serving a 12-year prison sentence for drug- and gun-related offenses.

Kareem Hunt’s older brother, Clarence Riggins, was sentenced to more than two years in prison after a 2014 conviction for criminal trespass, according to court records. Hunt’s mother was arrested in 2014 on charges of cocaine possession and pleaded guilty to driving under the influence, court records show. Hunt’s stepfather, Deltrin Kimbro, was sentenced in 2004 to eight years in prison for drug trafficking and related offenses, according to court records.

Four more cousins and another uncle have pleaded guilty to felony offenses, most related to drugs, according to court records.
‘All we know is to fight’

Even before Kareem Hunt admitted he lied to the Chiefs prior to TMZ posting the video of his Feb. 10 altercation with a 19-year-old woman at a Cleveland hotel, there were missteps.

In 2011, when Hunt was 16, he was one of four teenage boys in a car when a police officer in Willoughby approached because of suspicious behavior and discovered .38 grams of marijuana and a marijuana grinder, according to a juvenile report obtained from the Willoughby Police Department. The report states that the car’s driver, Matthew A. Hendricks, said the marijuana and grinder were his and his friends, including Hunt, had nothing to do with it.

The matter was referred to juvenile court, according to the report.

In 2015 while he was at Toledo, Hunt was suspended for the first two games of his junior season for an undisclosed violation of team rules.

But it was the TMZ video that resulted in national media comparing Hunt to Ray Rice, whose NFL career ended after a video was released showing Rice punching his then-fiance in the face and knocking her unconscious.

“You see the tape and it just kind of breaks your heart,’’ said Louis Ayeni, who coached Hunt at Toledo and is now an assistant coach at Northwestern, referring to the security video from the Cleveland hotel. “He’s so likeable and when he knows you, he’s a really giving, caring person. But his choices and his actions put him in this situation right now.’’

Kareem Hunt did not respond to multiple requests for comment made through his agent, Dan Saffron.

Though Hunt has not been charged with a crime, the NFL is investigating three incidents in the past year in which he allegedly was involved in physical altercations — with the woman at a Cleveland hotel in February, with a man at an Ohio resort in June and with another man at a Kansas City club in January.

Lorenzo Hunt said he sees a link between Kareem Hunt’s physical altercation with the 19-year-old woman and his family’s checkered history.

“The only thing that he has now is a resonance, just a small, tiny, little seed of all that anger, all of that trial and tribulation, all of that frustration,’’ said Lorenzo Hunt, 36, who is a professional MMA fighter and also said he works in security. “It’s in him. But it’s not of him. It’s pain from us. It’s not his. He got away.

“It’s like all of us, we fought so hard, that all we know is to fight. To see Little Kareem get out of there, we never even saw that he had so much of us in him until we saw how he fights for the other yard, how he fights for the extra inch, how he never quits no matter (if) you got 300-pound linemen holding on to you, trying to drag you down. He never stops. That’s us. That’s a Hunt.’’

The elder Kareem Hunt was a football star at Collinwood High School in Cleveland and later played in adult leagues, according to family members, who said the sport bound father and son. Or Big Kareem and Little Kareem, as they are still known.

“We used to go to Big Kareem’s games, Little Kareem, I’d carry him with me,’’ said Dixie Hunt Dorsey, Little Kareem’s great-grandmother. “When Big Kareem got the ball to the goal, Little Kareem was right with him. I wish I’d had a camera.’’

Chimed in Ava Hunt, Little Kareem’s great aunt: “He ran out on the field so he could play. He’d see his Daddy playing, and that’s what inspired him to play.’’

The elder Kareem Hunt declined to comment for this story other than to say, “I love my son.’’

Wearing a Chiefs jersey bearing his son’s No. 27 in February, the Big Kareem on behalf of his son accepted a “Hometown Hero’’ award presented by the Ambassador Brothers of Lorain County. And video taken by Ava Hunt shows Big Kareem and Little Kareem joking during a Fourth of July picnic this year as the father sat in a dunking booth and stayed dry as the son threw softballs that missed the target.

“I’m the quarterback and you the running back,’’ Big Kareem can be heard saying with laughter.

But by the time the junior Kareem Hunt was born in 1995, his father had been in and out of jail and Stephanie Riggins was the primary parent for the future NFL star. A few years later she moved him out of Elyria, which has a crime rate higher than 86% of the state’s cities and towns of all sizes, according to neighborhoodscout.com.

Four years later they settled in Willoughby, about 50 miles northeast of Elyria, a town notorious for drug abuse and drug trafficking, according to Capt. Christopher P. Constantino of the Elyria Police Department.

Stephanie Riggins declined comment when reached by phone. But Lorenzo Hunt praised her efforts as a mother.

“What Steph did with Little Kareem was absolutely amazing,’’ he said of Stephanie Riggins, who has worked as a home health aide, “that she was able to rise above her station and provide for her son in such a stable fashion.’’

Kareem Hunt was playing linebacker at South High School until the team’s running back got hurt. Just like that, Hunt was starting at running back — permanently.

During his junior and senior seasons, he rushed for a combined 5,204 yards and 83 touchdowns. But the hometown hero’s status is complicated in parts of Willoughby.

A bartender at The Wild Goose pointed to a spot on the wall where he said a photo of Hunt was taken down after TMZ posted its video.

“He’s a good kid,’’ said the bartender, who identified himself only as John. “Seems like he’s lost his way a little bit.’’

But around the corner at Frank & Tony’s Place, a server who said she attended high school with Hunt, defended him.

“I’ve never seen him get in a fight or any argument,’’ said Mariah Wilson, 27. “I think the general feeling from everyone is people make mistakes.’’
Support at home

Unbeknownst to most in Willoughby, Kareem Hunt was in his mother’s home in Amherst last weekend, according to Hunt’s brother, Clarence Riggins. Hunt purchased the five-bedroom, split-level house in June for $325,000, according to property records. Riggins said Hunt was with his girlfriend, Julianne Oser, who was a cheerleader when they met at Toledo.

“You know, he’s still smiling,’’ Clarence Riggins said of his brother. “He hasn’t let it break him, and he said he’s not going to let this break him and define him.”

In the security video published by TMZ, Hunt can be seen approaching the woman and engaging in an argument before shoving her back with his right hand. Another man tries to restrain Hunt, while the woman approaches him and swats at Hunt’s face, making contact.

Rayshawn Watkins, Hunt’s friend, told police that the accuser began calling both him and Hunt the “N-word.”

“It took a lot for him to get there,’’ Clarence Riggins said of Hunt’s altercation with the woman, whom Riggins says also spit in Hunt’s face. “But as a man, you don’t put your hands on a woman no matter what.”

In the two weeks since Hunt’s release from the Chiefs, family and friends have rallied around him, according to his brother.

“The pastor was at the house when Kareem first came home,’’ Clarence Riggins said. “A lot of church people were there. We said a prayer for him and everything. He has a lot of support.”

Hunt, who earned his degree from Toledo in criminal justice, has started counseling and anger management classes and has been in contact with the NFL, according to Riggins. He has cleared waivers and is a free agent, but while he’s on the commissioner’s exempt list he’s barred from playing if another team signs him.

Among those who have taken a special interest in the situation is Duane Whitely, police chief in Elyria, where the elder Kareem Hunt has a long history with law enforcement. Whitely said he grew familiar with Hunt during his series of arrests.

Whitely has followed the younger Kareem Hunt’s progress from afar and praised Stephanie Riggins.

“It was a smart move for her, to get him out of here,’’ Whitely said of Elyria, “and move him to a different environment.’’

He said he was disappointed when he saw the video of Hunt but has not given up on the son of the father who was arrested as recently as August on charges of drug possession.

“My hope is that Kareem can turn this around, learn from it, not do it again,” Whitely said. “If he can learn and grow, everybody deserves a second chance.’’

Olivier Vernon Jersey

Linebacker Olivier Vernon is a goner after the New York Giants agreed to ship him to Cleveland for guard Kevin Zeitler. Safety Landon Collins will be finding a new home in the next week or so, too.

If you were brought in by the Giants under the previous regime — don’t buy, rent instead. There seems to be a strong chance you won’t be around long with general manager Dave Gettleman and coach Pat Shurmur making the moves. Gettleman continues to be busy reshaping and overhauling his roster. There are only 13 players remaining from their arrival just over a year ago.

And more moves are coming.

The Giants were toeing the line with Vernon. He had a big contract (counting $19.5 million against the salary cap this season) and an injury history in recent years. But he was still the team’s best pass-rusher, by a wide margin. The plan, according to a source close to the team, was to move Vernon only if they could find a suitable replacement.

That would indicate something is in the works either via free agency or trade. Vernon is gone, and now we’re left to wait for the other shoe to drop.

One intriguing name on the trade market that would fill their desire to replace Vernon with a top pass-rusher is Kansas City’s Dee Ford. He is probably a better fit in the Giants’ 3-4 defense than the 4-3 defense Steve Spagnuolo is bringing to the Chiefs.

In free agency, there are players such as Baltimore’s Za’Darius Smith and Washington’s Preston Smith near the top of the list. Za’Darius Smith had 8.5 sacks in 2018 and would be a natural fit with the Giants. Markus Golden, with his familiarity with Giants coordinator James Bettcher’s defense, is also a strong possibility.

As currently constituted, the Giants’ cupboard is bare. Vernon will officially be traded next week and Connor Barwin was released last month. That leaves Lorenzo Carter, Kareem Martin and Avery Moss as the team’s only edge rushers. Carter flashed some promise as a rookie and Martin isn’t known for his pass-rushing skills. Moss spent the season on the practice squad.

The Giants can’t wait until the draft to address these gaping holes, no matter how strong and deep it is in pass-rushers. They are going to make a significant move either via trade or free agency in the next week or so.

Legal tampering begins on Monday. Teams can officially start signing players at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

The trade for Vernon makes sense for both parties. The Browns upgraded on the edge and the Giants added a right guard. Jamon Brown filled in admirably at that spot in the second half of the season, but Zeitler is at a different level.

Zeitler was Pro Football Focus’ sixth-ranked guard last season with a grade of 74.5. Brown was 62nd with a grade of 51.7. Zeitler was also their top-ranked pass-blocking guard, the area in which Brown struggled most.

In ESPN’s pass-block win rate, a metric powered by NFL Next Gen Stats, Zeitler was at 80 percent and Brown 71 percent. The league average for guards was 78 percent.

This is the latest step in Gettleman’s promise to rebuild the offensive line. He has now traded for Zeitler, drafted left guard Will Hernandez in the second round and signed Nate Solder to a then-record deal last offseason.

With Jon Halapio having played well before breaking his leg early last season at center, the pieces are there for this to be a good offensive line blocking for the new centerpiece Saquon Barkley and protecting Eli Manning. All they need now is a right tackle for the puzzle to possibly be complete.

It is the defense that has been left in desperate need of addressing, which it was before a week that saw them subtract two of their best players — Collins and Vernon. The Giants have only 28 percent of their salary cap allocated toward their defense, according to ESPN Roster Management.

But that will change soon enough. A notable pass-rusher is on the way.