The Cleveland Browns are coming off just about the worst possible season, going 0-16 in 2017-2018. They rotated through multiple quarterbacks, lost a game in overtime, and had Myles Garrett go down injured.
Now, after a promising off-season, is there reason to believe that things are about to improve in Ohio?
IN: QB Tyrod Taylor, QB Drew Stanton, RB Carlos Hyde, WR Jeff Janis, WR Jarvis Landry, TE Darren Fells, CB Demarious Randall.
OUT: QB DeShone Kizer, QB Kevin Hogan, QB Cody Kessler, RB Isaiah Crowell, TE Randall Telfer, OT Joe Thomas, DT Danny Shelton, CB Jamar Taylor, CB Jason McCourty.
DRAFT: QB Baker Mayfield (1st overall), CB Denzel Ward (4th overall), OT Austin Corbett (33rd overall), RB Nick Chubb (35th overall), DE Chad Thomas (67th overall), WR Antonio Callaway (105th overall), LB Genard Avery (150th overall), WR Damien Ratley (175th overall), CB Simeon Thomas (188th overall).
The 2018 offseason saw the Browns add a lot of skill-position talent, while losing their future HoF tackle, Joe Thomas. All in all, it seems like a good offseason on paper for Cleveland. They completely exchanged their quarterback room, including hopeful messiah Baker Mayfield. There will be no pressure on Mayfield to start in week 1 however, as Hue Jackson declared Tyrod Taylor the starter for the 2018-2019 season.
The Browns also replaced Jason McCourty at CB with Denzel Ward, a potential lockdown corner who will look to replicate the work of Tre’davious White and Marshon Lattimore in his rookie season. Jarvis Landry and Josh Gordon are a potent combination at receiver.
The roster is trending in the right direction, with plenty of talent and potential at every level of offense and defense.
Although progress will most likely be made in 2018-2019, the Browns are far from a finished product. It likely won’t be until Mayfield has a full NFL season under his belt that he truly shines, and there are still holes in the offensive line. The defense has a lot of potential but needs to show guaranteed production before they can start living up to the hype.
As was previously mentioned, it will be unlikely for Mayfield to start in the coming season. Also, Myles Garrett, David Njoku, Denzel Ward and Jabrill Peppers have yet to realize their vast potentials.
For the coming season, five wins will be the expectation. I can see them winning as many as eight if they can bring it all together.
I predict the star performer to be a tightly run battle between Josh Gordon and Myles Garrett. Garrett had injury issues last year, and Gordon has had off-field issues that hamper his ridiculous on-field ability. Either or both will explode this year, given the right circumstances.
Expect Gordon to have over 1,000 yards receiving comfortably, or up to 1,400 if Taylor can play with more freedom than he did at the Bills.
Garrett is easily a ten-sack player, and I fully expect him to reach this mark next season. He could reach 12, or even 14, if he stays healthy.
The subjects of this year’s Hard Knocks may make some noise this season. In a young and talented roster, the experience and leadership of players, such as Tyrod Taylor, will be key to the development of the roster.
It’s hard to picture the Browns making any sort of playoff push, but it’s impossible that they go 0-16 yet again. Although controversial at times, their draft certainly improved a roster much in need of a refresh. Much of this season’s speculation will be surrounding the timing of Mayfield’s debut. If the Browns start poorly, expect calls for his immediate arrival. For the sake of Cleveland, it’s about time the Browns began to live up to their potential.
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