The Cleveland Browns made it to the playoffs, beating the Pittsburgh Steelers after a memorable game. Afterwards, the realm of Baker Mayfield and co. out again. The team stayed away from the headlines this offseason, but still got a solid injection of quality. For the quarterback – and therefore the entire team – this will be the year of truth.
The Browns had a clear mission: to get help for the secondary so that a lead remains safe. One of the best safeties in the game was achieved with John Johnson. The advantage of such a safety is that they are considerably underpaid compared to their playing level. In addition to Johnson, cornerback Troy Hill was also removed from LA, leaving the Browns with their homework done. A big name was later brought in with Jadeveon Clowney, but there is still a big question mark behind his name. A top talent anyway, but his production and mentality leave much to be desired. Fortunately, his one-year contract is not a millstone around the Browns’ necks.
The main leavers from Ohio were two defensive tackles: Larry Ogunjobi and Sheldon Richardson. The other departures mainly came up short and were replaced in their position by stronger players. Therefore, the conclusion remains that the Browns are taking another step forward with their roster.
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The Cleveland Browns had a good draft with some steals in later rounds. In the first round, Ohio pride chose cornerback Greg Newsome II. In his last year in college, he didn’t allow a single catch on third down. Then, in the second round, a first-rounder was actually picked up. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is a linebacker who explodes from the screen with his explosiveness, versatility and instinct for the ball. His smaller stature led to a fall to the second round, but he can really help the Browns move forward. Speedster Anthony Schwartz also boosted the receiving corps. An important help to make the field bigger for the defense while on the other side they try to cover those two running backs.
The Cleveland Browns’ offensive line has been out of the loop for a while. That is also necessary with a QB of value and two running backs who are asserting themselves. All starters from last season will also be ready to protect Baker Mayfield in 2021. Jedrick Wills hopes for another step forward after his transition from right to left tackle.
The Cleveland Browns are particularly well stocked in the running back position. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are arguably the best tandem in the National Football League (NFL). If the Browns lead and their secondary is better than last year, these two champs can milk the clock like no other. All eleven starters from last year are back in all positions. Add Odell Beckham Jr to that as well. He wants to clear the question marks in Ohio after a few difficult seasons and a serious injury.
The front office went to great lengths to protect Mayfield and provide weapons. It is up to him to show that his good 2020 can be followed up with an excellent 2021. An important year for Baker as the Browns have to decide on his future very soon. A relapse could spell the end of the Mayfield era. The Browns are impatient to have a Super Bowl-worthy team for the first time in living memory.
The 25th defense on third down: this makes it difficult to easily hold onto a big lead. That became apparent in 2020, so investments were mainly made in the secondary. Newsome II was made in the draft, while safety John Johnson bought a solid asset. Veteran Troy Hill and Greedy Williams, back from injury, also have to help in the back end. The biggest problems are in the middle of the defense. A top linebacker is not there like JOK is a rookie, while defensive tackles Larry Ogunjobi and Sheldon Richardson are gone.
The defensive line was spiked with Jadeveon Clowney. He was on the open market for a very long time and signed a one-year contract. However, if he is fit and finally unleashes his huge potential, this could be a formidable asset. The same is actually true for Takkarist McKinley. We no longer need to introduce Myles Garrett. This bear is good for an application for Defensive Player of the Year every year.
The Cleveland Browns are no longer the ugly duckling in the NFL. All the puzzle pieces are ready, but the big question remains whether Baker Mayfield can make them all fit. Head coach Kevin Stefanski was named coach of the year, so he has a duty to make everything work for his quarterback and the rest of the team. Especially because the secondary gets a boost, which basically gives the offense more free play to run with the ball. Winning the division must be the ambition, the Super Bowl a distant but possible dream.