Browns rookie LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah shines in loss to Lamar Jackson, Ravens

Sure, things in Cleveland might be collapsing right now, with the offense falling apart, injuries wreaking having, coach Kevin Stefanski coming under fire and pets' heads falling off, but did you watch Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah on Sunday night?

Whoa, buddy, that rookie is a keeper.

The Notre Dame linebacker fell in the 2021 NFL Draft in part because some teams feared they didn't know how to use the multi-talented player who could line up everywhere on the field, from linebacker to slot corner.

The Browns had no such concerns, instead seeing a blur playmaker who just might help slow Lamar Jackson, the most dynamic quarterback in the NFL.

In Sunday's 16-10 loss to the Ravens, JOK showed the line of thinking could work. The rookie linebacker compiled a career-high 12 tackles, earned half a sack, one QB hit, one tackle for loss, and was all over the field, particularly shadowing Jackson in high-leverage situations.

"I think you see his length and speed show up on the field, which is so important when you're going up against an offensive attack like the Ravens," Stefanski said following the loss, via the team's official website.

Six of JOK's tackles were against Jackson, four of which limited the QB to one yard or fewer, and Jackson's biggest gain against him as a tackler was just four yards.

When you know you'll be facing a player like Jackson twice a season for the next decade or so, finding a defender who can at least make his life more difficult is essential. In Owusu-Koramoah's first chance, he showed he might be more than just a one-off headache for Baltimore.

"(Jackson) is truly a competitor," Owusu-Koramoah said. "He never gives up, even on simple plays. He's never going to quit, even if we're in front of his face."

The Browns considered drafting JOK in the first round but plucked corner Greg Newsome II instead. When Owusu-Koramoah fell into the second round, Cleveland's front office pounced, trading up to grab the hybrid linebacker. The move, coupled with the coaching staff's ability to utilize the rookie's talents, properly added a playmaker in the middle of the defense the Browns desperately needed.

The hybrid linebacker has been a stud when healthy, showing the ability to play in space, the intelligence to diagnose plays, and the speed to get to ball carriers. If not for missing three games due to injury, JOK would be getting more attention for stalwart play during his rookie season.

The Browns might have viewed the linebacker as someone who could help slow Jackson, as he did Sunday night. But Owusu-Koramoah wants to be a force against every opponent.

"I should be built for every quarterback," he said. "It's not just a sole quarterback I'm here for and built for, but I can compete against them all."

Facing Jackson and the Ravens again in Week 14 following Cleveland's bye, JOK will have a chance to prove once again he's up to the challenge of helping slow the former NFL MVP.

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