Cleveland has come a long way.
The team finally found its franchise quarterback in Baker Mayfield, who took over in week four last year and brought new life to a Browns offense that had been dormant for… well the past 10 years. The team also elevated Freddy Kitchens from interim head coach to full time head coach in hopes that his chemistry with Mayfield will translate to wins on the field and, dare I say, a playoff berth.
Offensively the Browns are pretty stacked. As mentioned Mayfield is one of the best young quarterbacks in football and his quick rise has forced Cleveland to go all in to capitalize on his rookie contract. The team has Nick Chubb at running back, who had a solid rookie season. They also brought in Kareem Hunt, who GM John Dorsey drafted in Kansas City. Hunt comes with off the field concerns but there's no denying his on field talent. Chubb will be the number one back while Hunt is suspended and then the Browns will be able to unleash a two headed monster in the backfield.
At wide receiver the team is equally loaded. Odell Beckham Jr. was acquired from the Giants and the team stills has Jarvis Landry. Behind those two, Antonio Callaway and Rashard Higgins are two young players who flashed promise in their rookie seasons. At tight end the team has the talented David Njoku, but he needs to improve as a pass catcher if he is going to take the next step. The team brings back most of their starters along the offensive line, a solid group headlined by Greg Robinson and Desmond Harrison.
The Browns have also done a solid job of collecting defensive talent. Along the line the team has Miles Garrett, who is one of the best pass rushers in the game already, and they also acquired Olivier Vernon from the Giants to anchor the other side. They brought in Sheldon Richardson to bolster the defensive tackle depth as well.
At linebacker the team has the promising Kristian Kirksey and rookie Mack Wilson out of the University of Alabama, who will replace the departing Jamie Collins. The team lost safety Jabrill Peppers in the OBJ trade, but they brought in Morgan Burnett, a solid veteran who will slide right into Peppers’s starting spot. They also have Damarious Randall who they moved to safety last season, and who flourished in that position.
At corner the Browns have Denzel Ward, who was a Pro Bowler in his first season and one of the better defensive rookies in football last season. Cleveland brought in another promising young corner during the draft with LSU’s Greedy Williams, who was a projected first round pick the Browns were able to snatch up with pick 46. If Williams lives up to the billing and Ward continue to develop, the Browns could have a formidable corner duo for the foreseeable future.
Grade: A | Expected AFC North Finish: 1
The Browns brought in so much talent this offseason it's impossible to give them anything but an A. the team is loaded with talent on both sides of the ball. The biggest question is how much of a leap will the promising young players take, and how will Kitchens handle a full year as the top man. As long as they stay healthy, I think this is the browns year in the AFC North.
Graduate of Loyola Maryland and die hard Boston sports fan. "I rub it in pretty good when I win" - Tom Brady