There is an excitement building on the shores of Lake Erie. This is something the Browns haven’t felt for many years. A young phenom has taken over and is creating hope in a city that hasn’t had any in recent memory. Last year the Browns changed many people’s perspective from the perennial dumpster fire to a team full of rising stars. With Hue Jackson gone and the memories of a hurtful 0-16 season behind, Browns fans rejoice as it’s time to look at the bright lights coming for Believeland.
Before I get into the agenda for this offseason, I would first like to look back on the talent acquired from the last few seasons. 2016 and 2017 might be looked at as failures on the win-loss column but turned out to be a season for acquiring young talent. Cleveland got players like Joe Schobert (Pro Bowl LB), Rashard Higgins (WR), Emmanuel Ogbah (DE), Myles Garrett (Pro Bowl DE), Jabrill Peppers (S), David Njoku (TE), Larry Ogunjobi (DT), Kevin Zeitler (OG) and JC Tretter (C).
In 2018, there was even more talent to start pushing the Browns toward playoff contention. Some of those names include Baker Mayfield (QB), Jarvis Landry (WR), Damarious Randall (S), Greg Robinson (T), Denzel Ward (Pro Bowl CB), Nick Chubb (RB) and Antonio Callaway (WR) to name a few. This just shows the time it took for the Browns front office to acquire talent to help this team push for playoff contention in the foreseeable future.
So, what do John Dorsey, Freddie Kitchens, and the rest of the Cleveland Browns front office need to do this offseason to continue to build from last years success? Well, let me tell you what I think they can do to help take control of the AFC North.
First, I would like to point out GM John Dorsey’s Philosophy, “BUILD THROUGH THE DRAFT!” This was always apparent in his time with the Chiefs and Packers. So, look to Free Agency more as a time to re-sign young talent already on the roster or to have quiet signings that will build depth through the roster. Cleveland may have a huge amount of cap space this offseason, but it will be looked at more for re-signing top talent in the coming years than spending big in Free Agency. The Browns have already been able to re-sign Greg Robinson (T) who had a break out year last year with the up and coming Browns. Let’s dive into a few other targets.
Wide Receiver Rashard Higgins
We saw a different pep in Rashard’s step this season. When healthy Higgins became one of Mayfield’s favourite targets in the endzone. Higgins compiled four touchdown catches this year while also missing a hand full of games due to injury. This wide-out isn’t going to wow anyone with his speed, but the crisp route running and possession traits he brings to the table. These traits are very important for a team that has been built with many speed receivers like Antonio Callaway and Breshad Perriman. If the Browns re-sign Higgins, they could get him at a good price and have a guy who has shown consistent growth through his young career.
Wide Receiver Breshad Perriman
Perriman brought everything to the table that Higgins did not. Blazing speed and a great deep threat for quarterback Baker Mayfield. Breshad didn’t spend a lot of time with Browns last season but was still able to compile 16 receptions for 340 yards and two touchdowns. The Browns should make it a priority to re-sign this soon-to-be unrestricted free agent so they can help bring continuity to a WR room that lacked consistency for many years.
Defensive Back Briean Boddy-Calhoun
Briean Boddy-Calhoun brings consistency to a Browns backfield that lacked it in that area. His skill set doesn’t really jump off the tape, but his consistent play does. Reports came out that John Dorsey wasn’t the biggest fan of Briean however, it would be foolish to not bring a depth piece like him back. He might fit better as a safety, but he also has experience playing cornerback in the NFL which should be looked at as a positive in Dorsey’s eyes. There is one thing for sure though, the Browns need all the consistency they can get and they can find some of that in Briean Boddy-Calhoun.
Linebacker CJ Mosley
One target I would like to see John go after is the long-time rival, CJ Mosley. Reports have recently come out stating the Ravens will not use the franchise tag on the 4-time pro bowler, making him a free agent. CJ only being 26 years of age is a perfect fit for a Browns front seven that needs more talent at the linebacker position. Injuries and underperformance have made the linebacker position more of a liability than an asset. Joe Schobert and Christian Kirksey are a good start to a talented linebacker room but adding the likes of Mosley would be a huge benefit to the Browns defence.
Like I said prior in this article, John Dorsey works his magic through the draft. Continuing that success is a must if Cleveland wants to become playoff contenders. The Browns hit the jackpot in last years draft now it’s time to attack this year’s draft with the same kind of intensity.
Focus positions include OT, LB, DL and depth in the secondary. With the recent success in the 2018 season, the Browns are looking at having mid-round picks this year, something they haven’t been used to in the past.
1st round, Pick 17
My hope is that Christian Wilkins falls to the Browns at 17. This is a large talented man who can be another stud on the D-line. We need help against the run and filling space on the D-line and he fits that mould. Here’s to hoping we see Wilkins in a Browns uniform.
Another option at this pick would be LB Devin Bush out of Michigan. He would fit in right beside Joe Schobert as a fast-athletic Linebacker who can cover and attack. Getting more talent for the Browns front-seven is important and it can all start with the first-round draft pick.
2nd round, Pick 49:
OT Yodney Cajuste could be available at this pick. Even though Greg Robinson (T) re-signed with the team it’s important to find another piece to hold down the tackle position since Joe Thomas’s retirement. It’s important to keep quarterback sensation Baker Mayfield upright. If Yodney develops properly, he could become an anchor at one of the tackle positions.
3rd round, pick 80:
For the last pick I will talk about in this article I think the Browns should attack another need at 80. In today’s NFL, teams can’t have enough edge rushers. On one side we have one of the league’s best in Myles Garrett. I think a good pick here would be Joe Jackson (Edge). Over two years in Miami he had a total of 14 sacks which could translate well into the NFL. Also standing at 6’6 and weighing in at 260 pounds he could be a force just with his size alone. It would be an important piece for Cleveland having another good pass rusher lining up on the opposite end from Garrett.
Final House Keeping:
The Browns are in a great positioning with tons of cap space ($79,149,465) and lots of young talent. However, they still need to ace this offseason so they can become the playoff contenders that the fans deserve. It appears the Browns are in capable hands with John Dorsey at the helm. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and our excitement high for this regime that has an eye on winning.
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