It’s been 16 years since the Browns last playoff berth, and they’ve only won one game over the last two seasons. In the last three seasons, Cleveland averaged only 16.2 points per game. Over the last 15 years, the Browns’ offense only scored over 20 points per game in a season once (2007 – 25.1). They ranked 30th in point scored in 2015 (278), 31st in 2016 (264), and 32nd in 2017 (234). On the positive side, Cleveland moved to 24th in offensive yards gained.
Hue Jackson has 17 years of NFL experience with most of his coaching falling on the offensive side of the ball. Jackson was the head coach of the Raiders in 2011 (8-8) and the Browns in 2016 and 2017 (1-31). His offenses in his career as an offensive coordinator only had one year of a high level of success (Oakland in 2015 – 5th in points scored). After last season, I was disappointed and surprised to see Jackson return. He could be the greatest guy in the world, but one win in 32 chances isn’t worthy of being of holding an NFL head coach job. Maybe he was dealt a bad hand after the Browns went 3-13 in 2015 while being outscored by 154 points or 9.6 points per game. Jackson proceeded to get outscored by 364 points over the last two seasons (11.4 points per game).
Cleveland went within the division to hire Todd Haley as their next offensive coordinator. Haley held the same position for the Steelers for six seasons with two other years of experience with the Cardinals. The Chiefs gave Todd 2+ years to prove his worth as a head coach, but he went 19-26 with one playoff berth (10-6 in 2010). Pittsburgh has had an elite QB, RB, and WR over the last few seasons. Haley will need to develop each position with the Browns to help push them toward the playoffs and potentially a Super Bowl down the road.
Gregg Williams returns for his second year as defensive coordinator after holding the same job for 17 seasons in the NFL for five different franchises. Williams struggled over three seasons as the head coach of the Bills from 2001 to 2003 (17-31) while picking up a Super Bowl title as the defensive coordinator for the Saints in 2009. Last year Cleveland showed growth in yards allowed (14th) on defense, but they ranked 31st (410) in points allowed.
In the offseason, the Browns made a flip at RB by releasing Isaiah Crowell and signing Carlos Hyde to a three-year deal. For me, it’s a parallel move even with Hyde catching a career-high 59 passes in 2017.
On defense, Cleveland lost CB Jason McCourty, LB Josh Keyes, and CB B.W. Webb. McCourty was the only player of value with a long resume of starting in the NFL. The Browns brought in CB T.J. Carrie, CB E.J. Gaines, CB Terrance Mitchell, and DE Chris Smith. Both Carries and Gaines played well in coverage in 2017 while having four years of experience in the NFL. Mitchell had flashes in 2017 in his first year with starting experience. He posted 18 defended passes while picking up four Ints. Smith had the most playing time of his career last year with the Bengals leading to three sacks as a rotational player.
The move in the offseason was to acquire WR Jarvis Landry who may end up being the Antonio Brown in the Browns’ offense. WR Jeff Janis was added for depth while WR Sammie Coates moved onto the Texans.
Cleveland released OT Zack Banner after seeing minimal playing time in 2017. Donald Stephenson will add experience to the offensive line, but he’s never been an asset in the NFL.
QB Drew Stanton and TE Darren Fells will compete for bench role after signing in the offseason.
With the first overall pick, the Browns took a swing on QB Baker Mayfield. Based on college stats, Mayfield has a clear edge over his competition at QB. He flashes plus accuracy from the pocket and on the run. His decision making and ability to read defense looks NFL ready. Baker won’t be a big runner in the pros, but he knows how to extend drives with his legs and create a bigger passing window. His TD to INT ratio (129:21) over his last three years at Oklahoma were exceptional while showing explosiveness in the deep passing game (11.5 yards per pass attempt in 2017). His biggest knock is his size (6’1” and 215 lbs.), which he makes up for with his heart. If he repeats his accuracy with the Browns, Cleveland may very well have the next Drew Brees.
Improving the secondary was a common theme for the Browns this offseason. They continued this thought process by adding CB Denzel Ward with the fourth overall pick. Ward brings impact speed (4.32) to the cornerback position while offering top-notch cover skills and athletic ability. His next step in his development is adding strength to help combat bigger WRs at the point of attack. I don’t expect Denzel to be a factor in run support while needing to improve his tackling technique.
With two of the first three picks in the second round, the Browns added G Austin Corbett and RB Nick Chubb. Corbett has a great feel for the game with an edge in knowledge. His hands create a winning window after the snap in both run and pass games, but he’ll need to add more strength to continue that success at next level. Nick played tackle in college, but he’ll be asked to change positions in the NFL. His lack of power and core strength may be a negative early in his career.
After the 2014 season in college, Chubb looked destined to be a great RB in the NFL. He gained 1,760 combined yards on 237 touches with 16 TDs and 18 catches. Unfortunately, a left knee injury in 2015 led to him missing almost the whole season. Nick played well in both his junior and senior seasons, but he lacked the same explosiveness while having more competition for touches with Sony Michel on the Bulldogs’ roster. He never had a real opportunity in the passing game in college. Chubb has NFL RB average speed (4.52) with strength on his side. He runs with power and some wiggle. In a way, Nick should be a more explosive version of Carlos Hyde while developing into an upside north/south runner with enough speed to hit on some long plays.
Three of the last five draft picks by the Browns were dictated to the defensive side of the ball – DE Chad Thomas, LB Genard Avery, and DB Simeon Thomas.
Thomas has the strength and athleticism to offer upside as a pass rusher in the NFL, but his speed isn’t where it needs to be to post-impact value in the pass rush plus he needs a better game plan when attacking blockers when trying to get to the QB. Chad lacks vision and on-field production in all areas.
Avery is a power linebacker with enough speed to cover a big part of the field. He’ll be explosive when attacking the line of scrimmage, but he needs to find a balance between finding an oncoming blocker or making the winning play on the ball. His first step isn’t great while needing to improve his value as a pass rusher.
Thomas has exceptional size (6’4”), but he needs to add more bulk (190 lbs.) if he wants to earn more playing time in the NFL. His speed (around 4.6) pushes him more toward the safety position with the Browns. He needs to develop better plays recognition while committing to staying home in coverage in the deep passing game.
With their other two picks in the fourth and sixth rounds, Cleveland added a pair of WRs – Antonio Callaway and Damion Ratley.
Callaway has explosive speed (4.41) with a plus release to beat press coverage. Antonio needs to develop a better rhythm when running his routes where he can rely on his speed and quickness to beat defenders out of the break. His hands can have risk while needing to add more strength to his game. Callaway almost has that high school star mentally where he thinks he’s better than his competitive while being in the game for the girls. He doesn’t work hard off the field while lacking the motivation to become a better player. Antonio has a checkered path off the field with multiple offenses. At the very least, Callaway will be an upgrade in the return game. Cleveland needs to keep him away from Josh Gordon.
Ratley has a short resume in college (47/920/8) with his best production coming in his senior season (30/694/6). His route running in below par while needing to add strength. He has the size (6’3”) and speed to beat a defense deep with a chance to provide scoring value at the goal line. More of a project than a player of interest in the Fantasy space.
The Browns finished 18th in rushing yards (1,714), but they did gain 4.5 yards per rush with 11 rushing TDs. Their lower total in production in the run game was due to game score and only 24 rushes per game. Cleveland only had seven runs over 20 yards in 2017. The offensive line allowed 50 sacks and 130 QB hits leading to a 22nd place ranking in passing yards (3.228) with 15 TDs and a league-high 28 Ints.
In the offseason, LT Joe Thomas retired after 11 seasons. He was a ten-time Pro Bowl winner. Last year Thomas battled memory loss while his season ended in October with a torn triceps muscle. He will be missed while creating a huge void on the offensive line in 2018.
LT Shon Coleman is expected to take over for Thomas. In his first season with starting snaps, Coleman struggled in all areas. The Browns drafted him in the third round in 2016. He plays with power and strong hands. His lack of technique tends to hurt him at times when his body gets out of balance leading to losing his edge.
LG Joel Bitonio suffered a foot injury in 2016 leading to 11 missed games. He bounced back with a strong season leading to high grades in both run and pass blocking. The Browns signed him to a five-year $51 million extension in March in 2017 with $23 million in guaranteed money, which shows how much they respect him after being selected in the second round in 2014. Joel tends to offer more upside as a run blocker.
C J.C. Tretter started all 16 games in 2017 while show fade in his game. Tretter regressed in run blocking while being a neutral player in pass protection.
RG Kevin Zeitler was an asset for the division rival Bengals over the five seasons after Cinci drafted him in the first round in 2012. He signed a big contract in 2017 ($60 million). In his first season with Cleveland, Zeitler was a slight negative in run blocking while playing well in pass protection.
RT Chris Hubbard has never been an asset in his four years in the NFL, but Cleveland thought enough of his play in 2017 to sign him to a five-year $37.5 million deal in March. Chris was a better player in pass protection while needing to make a huge improvement to be an asset in run blocking.
Based on these option on the line, the Browns have strength in their guards with plenty of risk at both tackle positions. The center position is below league average. Rookie Austin Corbett will be an upgrade somewhere, but it may require shifting another proven starter off a position of success. I’ll give this offensive line a C- grade due to the sacks risk on the outside.
The above data shows the strength of schedule as far as rushing attempts (RATT), rushing yards (YDS), yards per attempt rushing (YA), rushing touchdowns (TDs), completions (COMP), passing attempts (PATT), passing yards (YDS), yards per attempt passing (YA), and passing touchdowns (TDS).
This information is based on 2017, which will work as our starting point for 2018. We’ll look at all the changes on offense on each team in the NFL plus the upgrades and downgrades on each team on the defensive side. We’ll update this table when we finish the research on all 32 teams.
2017 LG Average = the league average of all stats from all 32 teams in 2017.
2017 Results = this is the results for each team in the NFL.
2017 Adjustment is based on the 2017 league average and the 2017 results for each team, this number will show if each team is above or below the league average in each stat category and the basis for the strength of schedule.
Cleveland has two games (CAR and DEN) against teams in 2018 that played well against the run. Their best success on the ground should come vs. the Bengals (2) and the Chargers.
The Browns face two top pass defenses (DEN and LAC) with six other games (PIT X 2, BAL X 2, and CIN X 2) that look unfavorable. Their best opportunity to pass the ball should come against Tampa Bay followed by the Chiefs.
Cinci would like to be a balanced team on offense. They struggled to run the ball in 2017 due to a weak offensive line and poor play overall on the offensive side of the ball. The Bengals do have WR talent, which may lead to more throws in 2018 with a change in offensive strategy. I thought a saw someone where that Bill Lazor was trying to implement some part of the success by the Rams’ offense in 2017 into their game plan in 2018, but I couldn’t find the article to support this information.
2018 is a big year for this coaching staff from top to bottom. Marvin Lewis can only fire his coordinators so many time before the ax falls on his head. I expect a move to league average in passing attempts this year with a much-improved run game. If the defense plays well and Cinci can holds leads late in games, the passing game won’t offer as much impact to Fantasy owners.
QB Tyrod Taylor – Over three seasons as the starting QB for the Bills, Taylor went 22-20 while developing into a very good game manager. His best asset ended up being his ability to minimize turnovers (16 Ints in 42 games) while providing winning plays in the run game (310/1711/15). Tyrod has a respectable completion rate (62.4), especially when considering the weak receiving talent in his career with Buffalo. Even with his ability to run, Taylor did take 88 sacks over the last two seasons. Cleveland has receiving talent at RB and WR with a developing TE. If Tyrod doesn’t win games, the Browns will make a quick switch to Baker Mayfield to help his development. Overall, Cleveland will be much better offensively in 2018 even with a questionable offensive line. If given a full season of games (which I don’t expect), Taylor would be in position for the best season of his career. For now, an upside game manager whose floor is higher than most expect based on his running ability and the improved WR talent in Cleveland.
QB Baker Mayfield – In his last three seasons as a starting QB for the Oklahoma Sooners, Mayfield passed for 12,292 yards with 119 TDs and 21 Ints highlighted by his senior season (4,627 yards and 43 passing TDs). Baker even chipped in at Oklahoma with 893 yards rushing on 316 carries and another 18 TDs. Mayfield plays with vision and accuracy while bringing toughness to the QB position. He throws the ball well on the run while showing the ability to make tough passes in tight coverage. Baker isn’t afraid to let his receivers win jump balls in single coverage deep in the passing game. His feel for play development is a huge asset, and his legs will help extend drives and lower his mistakes. Mayfield could very well hit the ground running in his rookie season leading to 16 starts. His receiving core has enough talent to lead to a top finish in QB scoring if given an opportunity to play all year. Worth a bench flier as a QB3 just in case Baker comes quicker than expected.
Other Options: Drew Stanton, Brogan Roback
RB Carlos Hyde – In 2017, Hyde had the best season of his career (1,288 combined yards with eight TDs and 59 catches) while setting a career high in touches (299). As great as may look, Carlos gained only 3.9 yards per rush and 5.9 yards per catch. His opportunity was almost by default. Last year Hyde only had one game with over 100 yards rushing (15/124) and two other strong games (94 combined yards with two TDs and three catches and 98 combined yards with two TDs and two catches). Last year the Browns’ RBs had 296 carries for 1,224 yards and five TDs. His opportunity in the passing game is pretty much dead in the water with Duke Johnson owing the third down and passing opportunity. I’d also be concerned that incoming rookie Nick Chubb will steal his role at some point of the year. I only see 225 combined touches for 950 yards with about five TDs and 25 catches. Don’t overpay for his 2017 stats.
RB Duke Johnson – In his third year in the NFL, Johnson posted his best season (1,041 combined yards with seven TDs and 74 catches). He finished as the 12th highest scoring RB in PPR leagues. Over his career in the NFL, Duke has 188 catches for 1,741 yards and five TDs, which sets a floor of 8.17 Fantasy points without his early down action. Johnson has never missed a game in the NFL while gaining about 350 yards rushing each year. Last year the Browns’ RBs caught 109 passes for 932 yards and three TDs on 145 targets. The addition of possession WR Jarvis Landry will hurt the RB chances in 2018. I’d lower Duke’s bar to about 60 catches for 550 yards with minimal value in TDs with about 300 yards rushing. When building a Fantasy roster, a Fantasy owner should shoot for more upside at RB2. I would prefer to own Johnson as RB3 with rotational value. He projects to be a back-end RB2 in 2018.
RB Nick Chubb – Over four seasons at Georgia, Chubb rushed for 4,769 yards with 44 TDs on 758 rushes. He gained 361 yards receiving in his career with 31 catches and four TDs. As a freshman, Nick appeared to offer more value/upside as a pass catcher (18/213/2). Chubb runs with patients while waiting to hit second gear through an opening at the line of scrimmage. His power and acceleration work well at the second level of the defense and at the goal line. Nick will start the year behind Carlos Hyde on the depth chart, but he may emerge as the top early down runner by the end of the year. Must handcuff if you draft Hyde.
Other Options: Matt Dayes, Dontrell Hilliard
WR Josh Gordon – Last season the Browns struggled to get league average QB play leading to Gordon producing below expected value in his five games. Josh finished with 42 targets (8.4 per game) with a weak catch rate (42.9 percent), which falls more on the QB play. In 2013, Gordon was one of the best WRs in the game when he caught 87 of his 159 targets for 1,646 yards and nine TDs. Over his last nine games in 2013, Josh was the best WR in the game when he caught 60 balls for 1,196 yards and seven TDs on 110 targets highlighted by back-to-back 200 yards receiving games (14/237/1 and 10/261/2). The Browns brought in a veteran ball QB who tends to make minimal mistakes while also playing with a weak receiving core in Buffalo plus drafted an accurate young QB (Baker Mayfield) with the first overall pick. Cleveland now has three threats at WR with Jarvis Landry added to the roster and hopefully a healthy Corey Coleman. When you add in a high-volume pass-catching back in Duke Johnson and a developing TE in David Njoku, the Browns should be an explosive scoring offense this year. Defenses will be forced to defend the whole field in 2018, which is a big win for Gordon. I’ll set his floor at 80 catches for 1,200 yards and double TDs while understanding he has the talent to be a top-five WR in the game. His previous baggage will keep plenty of Fantasy owners away, which is only a win for those who believe the future is here for Cleveland.
Update: 7/27/18 > Last week I (Shawn Childs) had Josh Gordon listed in my grouping as a breakout player, but a couple of days later he checked himself into a treatment center. The reports suggest he didn’t have a setback in his recovery from drugs and alcohol, which would be a huge positive for him in life. Over the last week, the Browns have mentioned they could be interested in signing Dez Bryant as well. Hopefully, this news isn’t tied to Gordon’s issue. For now, Josh will slide in Fantasy drafts until we have a clearer outlook on his situation.
I’m going to list my breakout paragraph below with the hopes that Gordon is full go in 2018:
Gordon looked like a beast over his short playing time in 2017 even with boring stats due to poor QB play, which sets up a second breakout season in his career. He has WR1 talent while being expected to be drafted as a WR2 in most PPR leagues (before his recent news in July). The key for his upside would be a huge step forward in the Browns’ passing attack. He’s my number one choice as the 2018 comeback player as well. His overall package gives him a chance at being a top-five WR this season.
WR Jarvis Landry – The move to add Landry to the Browns’ receiving core should be a big win over the next five seasons. Jarvis is a great possession type WR with the ability to beat a defense deep if given the opportunity. He has two seasons with over 110 catches and two years with over 1,100 yards receiving. In his first four seasons in the NFL, Landry has 400 catches for 4,028 yards and 22 TDs on 570 targets. His yards per catch (8.8 in 2017 and 10.1 in his career) fall more into a game plan issue than his true skill set. Last year Jarvis scored a career-high nine TDs, which shows his value as a receiver in the red zone if given scoring chances. For Landry and Gordon to offer productive seasons, the Browns will need to be committed to passing the ball. If Cleveland’s coaching staff plays now to lose with a ball control approach, there won’t be enough passing chance to fill all the receiving buckets in the Fantasy world. Talent dictates opportunity, and Landry has the talent and skill set to catch 100+ passes. I’ll lower his bar to 90 catches for 1,100+ yards with a handful of TDs while understanding his catch opportunity may be brighter than my narrow-minded vision.
WR Antonio Callaway – Over his freshman and sophomore seasons at Florida, Callaway caught 89 passes for 1,399 yards and seven TDs while returning 55 punts (653/2) and six kickoffs (176/1). Antonio has elite speed with open field ability plus a winning release at the line. His route running needs better tempo to take advantage of his speed and quickness out of breaks. He missed 2017 due to a suspension (credit fraud) while also having a couple of other off the field issues in college. Upside talent for sure, but he needs to focus on playing the game if he wants to have a long career in the NFL.
Update: 8/11/2018> Callaway looks to be the favorite to win the WR3 job after the Corey Coleman trade. He did an incident with the law involving marijuana, which isn’t a great sign early in his career.
WR Rashard Higgins – Over three seasons at Colorado State, Higgins caught 238 passes for 3,648 yards and 31 TDs highlighted by his sophomore year (96/1750/17). Rashard has solid hands with below par speed and quickness. He won’t win many battles in press coverage while struggling to create separation downfield. In 2017, he caught 27 of his 50 targets for 312 yards and two TDs.
WR Ricardo Louis – Louis caught 85 passes for 1,302 yards and eight TDs over his last three seasons at Auburn. His best year came in his senior season when he caught 46 passes for 716 yard and three TDs. Ricardo was also active in the running game (68/578/2). Louis has questions with his hands, route running, and his release. Over two seasons in the NFL, Louis has 45 catches for 662 yards and no TDs on 96 targets.
Other Options: Damion Ratley, Jeff Janis, C.J. Board, Evan Berry, Da’Mari Scott, Derrick Willies
TE David Njoku – Over two seasons at Miami in college, Njoku caught 64 passes for 1,060 yards and nine TDs. His game has elite upside with a unique combination of athletic ability, speed, and strength. David’s route running needs to show growth while improving his pass blocking. He’ll offer big-play ability while understanding how to sit down in zones. Njoku may not hit the ground running, but he’s going to be a future top 10 TE while having enough talent to be one of the best players at his position in the game. In 2017, he caught 32 of 60 targets for 386 yards and four TDs while never delivering an impact game. The Browns’ TEs caught 68 of 119 passes for 817 yards and five TDs in 2017. The change in offensive structure with Josh Gordon and Jarvis Landry in the mix for targets limits the TE opportunity in 2108 while giving Njoku time to develop. With a 75 percent share of TE snaps, possible 50 catches for 500+ yards and a handful of TDs.
TE Seth DeValve – Last year I dismissed DeValve as a possible option at TE, which was a mistake. Seth was the Browns fourth pick in the 4th round in 2016. Seth played wide receiver in college at Princeton where he offered plus size (6’4” and 245 Lbs.). The Browns move him to TE where he needs to improve his strength and his route running ability. In 2017, he caught 33 passes for 395 yards and one TD on 58 targets. DeValve played well enough to compete for snaps at TE, which will be the case again this year. Seth tends to be a liability in blocking.
Other Options: Darren Fells, Devon Cajuste, Julian Allen
K Zane Gonzalez – Gonzalez made 15 of his 20 field goals and 25 of 26 of his extra-points in his rookie season. His leg showed value from 50 yards or longer (2-for-3). Zane has a big leg leading to upside in the long kicks and delivering touchbacks. Last season Cleveland scored only 27 TDs with 47 overall scoring chances. Gonzalez has a leg they may prove to be of value with the development of the Browns’ offense, but Fantasy owners need to see it on the field first.
Cleveland has two games (NO and CAR) vs. teams that had success running the ball in 2017. Their defense should hold an edge in three other games (TB and CIN X 2).
The Browns’ secondary will need to improve midseason when they have a tough five-game schedule (LAC, @TB, @PIT, KC, and ATL) while also having two poor matchups (PIT and @NO) to start the year. They have eight favorable games defending the pass with five contests (@CIN, CAR, @DEN, CIN, and @BAL) coming over the last six weeks of the season. Overall, Cleveland has a slightly favorable pass schedule with one hot and cold streak.
Cleveland played well against the run 2017 leading to 7th in rushing yards allowed (1,566) with ball carriers gaining only 3.4 yards per rush. They allowed 14 rushing TDs. Game score led 29.2 per rushes per game, which was about ten percent higher than the league average.
The Browns finished 19th in pass yards allowed (3,684) with QBs tossing 28 TDs and seven Ints. Their defensive line allowed 34 sacks.
DE Miles Garrett missed the four games of the season with an ankle issue. He posted 31 tackles and seven sacks over 11 games while offering high value defending the run. Myles has a great burst off the line of scrimmage with high value rushing the QB. He’ll be a disrupter on many plays while needing to prove he can beat double teams and improving his motor. Garrett is the first move toward the climb to the top of the NFL mountain.
DE Emmanuel Ogbah showed growth in his second year in the league after the Browns drafted him in the second round in 2016. He did miss the last six games of the year with a foot issue after delivering 29 tackles and four sacks. Ogbah looks the part of an upside pass rusher with strength and speed, but he needs to improve his motivations while he does lack impact athletic ability. His talent offers upside, and his game should continue to improve.
DE Carl Nassib started 30 games over the last two seasons with 5.5 sacks and 52 combined tackles. His game is improving. Nassib is motivated by not being respected as a player. He has pass rushing skills with one-dimensional speed. His best asset is his motor with a solid feel for the game. Carl may need time to develop especially when matchup up with power defenders.
DT Larry Ogunjobi is aggressive at the point of attack leading to his best impact coming off his first step. When shutdown off the snap, Ogunjobi lacks the second gear to finish plays plus he needs to add more bulk to stand his ground against power run game. If he has an edge in his matchup, his name will be on the stat sheet. If Larry struggles to beat his man, he will be a non-factor on many plays. Overall, his game will offer rotational value with starting upside down the road. As a part-time player in 2017, Larry had 32 tackles with one sack. His game added value against the run. DT Trevon Coley had 41 tackles and two sacks in his first season with playing time.
LB Jamie Collins struggled in the last two seasons after playing at an elite level in 2014 and 2015 for the Patriots. He missed ten games last year due to MCL issue in his right knee. When healthy and on his game, Collins should add value to the run defense, rushing the QB, and defending the pass. LB Joe Schobert led the Browns in tackles (144) in his second year in the league with three sacks, and four defended passes. His best value came in run support. Over the last two seasons, LB Christian Kirksey had 286 combined tackles, six sacks, and eight defended passes. Even with his stats, Kirksey ranks below the top linebackers in the game.
S Jabrill Peppers wasn’t an impact player in his rookie season. He finished with 58 tackles plus one Int and three defended passes. A knee injury cost him three games. Peppers will add value in run support with enough speed to handle himself in the passing game. Jabrill offers an edge in speed at his position while showing the willingness to hit. Once he learns to react rather than think, he’ll be one step closer to the ball where his returns skills will be exciting. S Derrick Kindred wants to be a big hitter with upside in run support. His game loses value when asked to change direction and retreat leading to missed tackles or mistakes in pass coverage. Last year Derrick missed the last two games due to a wrist injury. Kindred had 57 tackles, six defended passes and one Int in 2017.
CB E.J. Gaines showed value in coverage while missing five games with a knee injury. He has 30 defended passes over his last 37 games with three Ints. CB Jamar Taylor added value in the run game while posting 23 defender passes over the last two seasons with three Ints. CB T.J. Carrie is coming off his best season in the NFL leading to 84 tackles and nine defended passes. CB Denzel Ward should move right into the starting lineup after being selected fourth overall. He projects as a top cover corner with risk against the run.
Cleveland has strength at DE with talent at the second and third level of defense at linebacker and safety. The Browns drafted an upside CB while throwing multiple darts at the CB position in the offseason. This defense played well against the run last year with follow through expected in 2018. Their schedule has many pitfalls in 2018 while being far from a top defense in the league. Cleveland needs to create more turnovers in the secondary while improving their pass defense in the red zone. Possible second defense with a short leash if they fail to perform early this year.
2018 NFL Team Outlooks