After a winless season in 2017, the Browns look to rejuvenate themselves and bounce back for the 2018 season. The Browns have been aggressive this offseason with hiring new GM, John Dorsey, and offensive coordinator, Todd Haley. With the new trade/free agent additions and draft selections, we look to delve deep into all Brown’s off-season signings and trades and how they can impact the team.
TRADE/FREE AGENT PICKUPS
1. Tyrod Taylor (acquired from Buffalo Bills in exchange for a 2018 third round pick):
Taylor impacts the team in many ways. Firstly, he adds a dual threat to the Brown’s offense with a career total of 1,711 rush yards and 15 rushing touchdowns. Tyrod Taylor also doesn’t throw many interceptions. As a 3-year starter (for the Bills) he has thrown a total of 51 touchdowns to 16 interceptions – a 3:1 TD to INT ratio. This helps the Browns greatly, who suffered 22 INTs in 2017 with Deshone Kizer under the helm.
However, Taylor is not the type of quarterback who will typically throw for 4,000 yards because of his run-first mentality and the fact that he has played on run-heavy teams.
Furthermore, Taylor needs a strong rushing game to help support him. He also needs to make his reads (particularly down the middle of the field) before scrambling in order to truly prosper. Some may argue that Taylor never received enough pass protection or that his wide receivers and tight ends would rarely get open whilst at the Bills – especially in 2017.
With the struggles Taylor has experienced within the last 2 seasons for the Bills, Taylor will look to have a bounce-back year.
2. Jarvis Landry (acquired from Miami Dolphins in exchange for a 2018 fourth round pick and a 2019 seventh-round pick):
Jarvis Landry, 3x Pro Bowler, should make a huge impact to the Brown’s WR core. He led the league in receptions in 2017 and has made a career total of 400 receptions – the most by a player in their first four seasons in NFL history.
The combination of Jarvis Landry and Josh Gordon (who is looking to return to his former state) should provide Tyrod Taylor with the offensive weapons he needs.
3. Carlos Hyde (free agent signing a 3-year deal):
Finishing the 2017 season as the 13th rushing leader with 938 yards, the Browns look to Hyde to better the void left by Isaiah Crowell who signed with the New York Jets.
However, Carlos Hyde only averaged 3.9 yards a carry in 2017 and reached a season-high of eight TDs. The average yards per carry in 2017 amongst the top 50 rushing leaders is approximately 4.2 (4.182 to be exact), so 3.9 YPC may seem slightly underwhelming.
Hyde has not yet broken 1,000 yards rushing for the season. He had a season high of 988 yards in 2016 (higher than Crowell’s 952 yards in 2016). It will be interesting to see how Hyde fares under Todd Haley’s offense.
4. Damarious Randall (acquired from Green Bay Packers in exchange for QB Deshone Kizer and swapping the Packers fifth round pick with the Browns 2018 fourth round pick):
Although playing cornerback for the Packers, the Browns intend to move Randall back to his natural position at free safety. Browns were in need of solidifying this position, so this move both benefits Randall and the Browns.
Randall reached a career high of four INTs last season finishing 12th in the league for INTs in 2017. Randall will be looking to have a productive season in 2018 back in his original position.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield (No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft):
The selection of Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield is intended to finally end the QB drought since the Tim Couch era. Whilst he won’t get the starting job straight away, he provides Tyrod Taylor with some competition during training camp.
His arm talent and abilities to extend plays don’t go unnoticed. His lack of size worries some. He has been questioned on his maturity issues and he needs to show that he can transition into a pro-style offense.
Cornerback Denzel Ward (No. 4 overall pick in the NFL draft):
Many fans were left scratching their head at this pick because they were expecting Bradley Chubb (defensive end) to be selected instead. However, the Browns were in desperate need of a No. 1 CB considering Jason McCourty signed with the Patriots.
The Browns already have Myles Garrett and Emanuel Ogbah at DE and they are more than capable starters. Denzel Ward has shown ball hawk instincts and whilst at Ohio State he only allowed just above a 32 percent pass completion in the last two years.
Despite this, there are questions surrounding his size as more physical receivers and bigger RBs have triumphed against him. Ultimately, this fills a massive void for the Cleveland Browns. It will be interesting to see how he fairs in Greg Williams defense.
Guard Austin Corbett (No. 1 pick in the second round, 33rd overall):
Corbett, traditionally a tackle for Nevada, has shown versatility on the line showing he can play both center and guard. Although, it is not clear if Corbett will be a starter from day one, you can never have too many linemen.
Corbett’s strength has been questioned by some and will need to be worked on. Nevertheless, his versatility alone allows him to step into any role if injuries occur. Considering the Browns have suffered offensive line injuries in recent years, this is a smart pick and gives Tyrod Taylor some more protection.
Running back Nick Chubb (No. 2 pick in the third round, 35th overall):
I suspect Chubb may be used as a goaline back due to his cutback ability and his ability to maneuver through traffic.
Chubb has concerns over speed due to leg injury back in 2015 versus Tennesee. However, his speed has seen some improvements since then but is still not the same as his pre injury form. Chubb also wasn’t often used in the passing game at Georgia.
What does this mean for Duke Johnson Jr.? Duke Johnson Jr. has shown good ability in the rush game as well as the pass game. He has been a bright spot on the Browns offense – showing the ability to gain extra yardage. I don’t think Chubb will take Johnson’s spot just yet, especially since the Browns resigned Johnson Jr. to a 3-year deal worth $15.6 million dollars. Although, many suspect Duke to be the third-down back because of his strength in the passing game. On occasions, Johnson Jr. may play in the slot as he has done in the past seasons.
Defensive end Chad Thomas (No. 3 pick in the third round, 67th overall):
Chad Thomas possesses the athleticism, body and strength desired for NFL DE’s. His versatility allows him to play in even or odd defensive fronts. However, he will need to work on his technical ability to truly prosper. Thomas most likely will put on rotation or on situational downs.
Wide receiver Antonio Callaway (No. 5 pick in the fourth round, 105th overall):
Callaway would have been selected much higher if it wasn’t for his character issues off the field. He is naturally athletic and has the ability to beat the press and man coverage being that he is dangerous on slants and crossing routes. Callaway most likely won’t start but if he matures and fixes his off-field issues he could become a potential steal in the draft in years to come.
Linebacker Genard Avery (No. 13 pick in the fifth round, 150th overall):
Avery is a strong player who brings versatility to the Browns defense, showing he can play both outside and inside linebacker. His pass rushing skills have been questioned and need improvement, as well as his tackling. He tends to rely on arms to tackle according to scouts and analysts.
Wide receiver Damion Ratley (No. 1 pick in the sixth round, 175th overall):
Ratley has raw talent with great speed and size at 6-foot-3. Though, he needs to work on getting stronger and more physical in press coverage.
Cornerback Simeon Thomas (No. 14 pick in the sixth round, 188th overall):
Thomas has good size and is a physical player who has played both cornerback and safety. He adds versatile depth to the Browns secondary. But his play recognition is somewhat inconsistent and seems to guess plays at times. Thomas may be used in dime packages.
To summarize, the Browns have made some interesting moves this season. Super Bowl winning GM John Dorsey may be the first sign of potential success for the Browns, alongside Todd Haley as OC. With that being said, considering the off-season pick-ups in free agency and the draft selections, I predict they will have a breakout year. I predict that the Browns will go 7-9 in 2018. Do you think the Browns have a shot at Wildcard this upcoming season?
(Sources can be found on nfl.com and draftanaylst.com).
(Cover photo source: neosportsinsiders.com)
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