Jarvis Landry, Tyrod Taylor, and Damarious Randall. This morning one was a Dolphin, one a Bill, and the other a Packer. Now they’re all Cleveland Browns. The Browns made trades that have significantly improved their roster on both sides of the ball. This is exactly what they needed to do, given they went 0-16 a season ago. Something needed to change. All the focus had been on the NFL Draft and who this team will take, but then out of nowhere the Browns shifted the conversation. Once only talked about in bad ways, the Browns have given people a reason to say something positive. Things now look bright for the future of the Cleveland Browns. With free agency and the draft still to come, there’s still much more to happen, but this got the Browns started on the right foot. Below I’ve broken down how these moves impact free agency, the draft, and the future for the Browns on offense and defense.
The worst offense in the NFL has quickly grown its potential. For starters, they now have a quarterback who’s better than anyone they’ve had for a while. Tyrod Taylor isn’t a quarterback who’s going to throw for a ton of yards or touchdowns, but he is a quarterback who’s not going to turn the ball over a lot and he’s not going to lose the game for you. In his 3 years as a starting quarterback, Taylor has an average quarterback rating of 92.7. He’s been consistent during his time as a starter. Cleveland just went from a 60.5 quarterback rating (DeShone Kizer) to 92.7. They now have a quarterback who can play consistent football and has led a team to the playoffs.
Cleveland will likely still be looking for a quarterback in the draft, but it may not be at pick one or four anymore. It’s my opinion that a team must love a quarterback to take him that high in the draft. If the Browns don’t love any of the guys in the draft, they don’t have to pick one of them now. Tyrod Taylor can hold down the fort until they can get a guy they love. Maybe Cleveland does love one of these quarterbacks, but doesn’t want to force him into things right away. This would make sense considering they’ve had terrible luck doing that in the past. Now a rookie quarterback would be able to come in and learn the offense while learning from an experienced starting quarterback with some success.
Starting Quarterback = Check
What does every quarterback need to be successful? Well for starters they need a good offensive line. Cleveland already has that. What’s next? They need someone to throw to. The Browns checked that off the list by acquiring Jarvis Landry. Jarvis Landry was one of the hottest names in free agency before the Dolphins slapped the franchise tag on him. That’s usually the case when you’re a Pro Bowl receiver. In two of his four seasons in the NFL, Landry has recorded 100+ catches. This is a huge upgrade for the Browns because they’ve never had a receiver record 100 catches in a season.
Josh Gordon is going to be on the other side of Landry. Gordon has had a really good season, recording over 1,600 yards. Other than that though, it hasn’t been great. Part of that has been off the field issues. Gordon came back last season and recorded 335 yards in 5 games. That’s pretty good considering he hadn’t played in the NFL since 2014. He’s still getting the feel for things, but the potential is there for sure. David Njoku is another weapon on this offense. He didn’t record huge numbers in his rookie year, but we can see his bright future from some of the plays he made. This is a young receiving group with a lot of potential.
Receiving Weapons = Check
There’s one thing left the Browns need on offense. A dynamic running back has been missing for a while in Cleveland. They currently have a good receiving running back in Duke Johnson, but they don’t have the workhorse. Because they hold the number one overall pick, the Browns have the opportunity to draft the best overall player in Saquon Barkley. As I stated in my previous article, the Browns would be stupid not to draft Barkley first overall. They’d be even more stupid to not take him now that they have Tyrod Taylor. I’m praying the Browns are smart enough to take Barkley first, because he won’t be there at pick four. Barkley would complete this offense, giving them play makers at most positions on offense.
Running Back = Check
Cleveland just got a lot more attractive for free agents. Instead of playing on the worst offense in the NFL, free agents can look forward to playing on an offense with loads of potential.
Along with having the worst offense in the NFL, the Browns had the second worst defense in the NFL. Acquiring Damarious Randall will help. He’s an experienced veteran who’s been on a team with success. He’s not a superstar by any means, but he’s solid. At this point, Cleveland doesn’t need superstars. Let’s just start with solid players.
While the defense was terrible last season, it does have potential to significantly improve. The Browns defense already has players like Myles Garrett and Jabrill Peppers, both of whom are very young players with bright futures. They will improve, which will improve the defense.
If everything goes as it should, the Browns will pick Saquon Barkley first overall. With pick number four, the Browns could go several ways. Now that Tyrod Taylor is the quarterback, Cleveland may not pick a quarterback fourth overall. If they don’t, this allows them to take the best player available. At that point in the draft it’s going to be a player like Minkah Fitzpatrick or Derwin James. Either of these guys would improve the defense. Cleveland also has picks 33 and 35 in the draft. There are more than 32 players worthy of going in the first round. Some very good players will slide down to the Browns. They can choose the best available player and continue to build a young defense with very high potential.
There’s a lot of work that still needs to be done. Coming back from 0-16 isn’t going to happen in one day, but the Browns started things off very well. They’ve got a lot of money to spend in free agency and a lot of draft picks. When it’s all said and done this offseason, the Browns will have a combination of successful veteran players and youngsters with potential. This may just be the offseason we look back on in a few years when the Browns are making the playoffs.