Cleveland Browns CB Leon McFadden To See Bigger Role Following Bye Week

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Updated: November 16, 2013

While some fans are already willing to label 2013 third-round pick, Leon McFadden, as the first bust of the new regime–the Cleveland Browns coaching staff could not be further away from sharing that opinion.

“I have complete confidence in him,” stated Ray Horton, the Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator. “I have no reservations whatsoever. He’s ready to play.”

Coming out of San Diego State, McFadden was widely regarded as one of the top man-to-man cover corners in the 2013 NFL Draft. The slightly undersized McFadden displayed an ability to be very fluid in his movements throughout his collegiate career, a skill that allowed him to lock down his half of the field consistently. McFadden’s physicality on the field showed up in a big way in his three years starting for the Aztecs, notching 40 passes defended while hauling in eight interceptions in his time on the field.

The knocks on him coming out of SDSU included his run support and his tendency to cut-tackle, instead of wrapping up the receiver. With Horton essentially being a secondary guru, however, you can bet that he has had McFadden working on these issues all season long. If the Browns veteran defensive coordinator feels that McFadden is “ready to play,” you should take him at his word. With so many self-promises of greatness for his defense, Horton will not put defenders out on the field if they can’t hold their own.

So far, the young defensive back has only accounted for a handful of snaps at the cornerback position, but with Chris Owens struggling to handle his receivers, the time is now for McFadden to make his mark following the Browns bye week. According to Pro Football Focus, 68.2 percent of shots taken at Owens have been hauled in by his opponent, a number poor enough to earn him the title of being the seventh-worst corner to play in at least half of his team’s snaps this season.

When you start to take a look at the players that have made Cleveland pay on game day this year, it is rarely their opponent’s star players. It is the secondary “role” players that have taken advantage of the Browns defense, mainly in the middle of the field and centering around players like Craig Robertson, Tashaun Gipson and Owens. Slot receivers, running backs coming out of the backfield and tight ends are typically covered by the free safety, nickel corner or middle linebackers–unfortunately it seems like the Browns didn’t get that memo this season.

The Browns have been torched this year by elusive backs and role players like Reggie Bush, Dexter McCluster, Joseph Fauria, Jarrett Boykin, Marlon Brown and Anthony Sherman. Buster Skrine has been a welcomed surprise, Joe Haden has essentially been putting his man on an island with no chance of escape, but the third cornerback needs to step up. It has to be soon, and that player isn’t Owens. It has to be McFadden.

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