Dear Cleveland Browns,
It’s been 16 years since our last playoff berth and we’ve only won one game over the last two seasons. In the last three seasons, our team averaged only 16.2 points per game. Over the last 15 seasons, our offense has only scored over 20 points per game once (2007 – 25.1).
After last season, I was disappointed and surprised that Hue Jackson returned. 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 proceed to get outscored by 364 points over the last two seasons (11.4 points per game).
Winning in the NFL starts with the head coach, but it also requires a stud quarterback. For the life of me, I still can’t understand the selection of Brandon Weeden in 2012. Entering the draft, Weeden was already 28. Our team needed a foundation QB in the worst way, but the team needed time to rebuild. Weeden already had a short shelve life. The two winners in that draft class at QB – Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson.
Both quarterbacks (Luck and Wilson) helped their franchises have successful runs after that draft season. I understand each franchise had a better overall foundation to the team and were better positioned to win. The best teams in the league continue to have success by scoring points led by a top QB.
Here’s a look the two previous drafts by the Browns written prior to each season at Scout Fantasy Sports:
2016 Draft Class
The Browns had 14 picks in this season’s draft (2016). They selected four WRs including Corey Coleman in the first round. Coleman has a nice combination of speed (4.4), strength, and athletic ability. Corey will have success in press coverage leading to possible long scoring plays when he beats his man. His route running has upside even with limited experience in all areas. Scouts question his hands especially in the middle of the field when facing a hard-hitting defender. Coleman has upside in the open field with possible value in the return game or as a runner.
Update: Coleman hasn’t developed as quickly as expected due to two straight seasons with injuries. His skill set should and upside should lead to better results with a healthy season and better QB.
In the fourth round, Cleveland drafted WR Ricardo Louis who posted a plus workout at this season’s NFL combined. He projects as more of a possession receiver with value in the open field due to his RB style of play. His hands don’t grade highly, and he needs to improve his release off the line of scrimmage to hide his intensions. Louis has the talent to make a step forward, but he may need some time to develop.
WR Jordan Payton was added in the fifth round. He has strength in his hands with a strong college resume, but he lacks quickness leading to losing releases at the line of scrimmage and many steps to get up to top speed. WR Rashard Higgins was also a 5th round selection. Higgins has solid hands with below par speed and quickness. He won’t win many battles in press coverage while struggling to create separation downfield.
Update: Higgins and Louis have had chances on the field, but both players don’t project to have starting value any time in the near future.
With their picks in the second and third round, Cleveland tried to address their defensive line by investing in DE Emmanuel Ogbah and DE Carl Nassib. 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. 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.
Update: Nassib started 30 games over the last two seasons with 5.5 sacks and 52 combined tackles. His game is improving. Emmanuel Ogbah played well in his rookie season when started 16 games (5.5 sacks and 53 tackles). Last season Ogbah missed the last six games of the year due to a foot injury. Over ten games, he had 29 tackles and four sacks.
The Browns drafted OT Shon Coleman with their second pick in the third round. 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.
Update: Coleman started all 16 games in his second season in the league.
Their swing for a future QB also came in the third round with the selection of Cody Kessler. He lacks an impact arm while offering some upside as a game manager. Cody plays more not to lose rather than seizing the moment with impact throws in tight coverage. His accuracy plays well within the pocket with a solid feel for the pass rush. When forced to run, his game loses value leading to minimal big plays and declining success.
Update: He’s no longer with the franchise.
Cleveland threw four more picks at their defense with LB Joe Schobert, S Derrick Kindred, CB Trey Caldwell, and LB Scooby Wright. Schobert lacks power and speed while gaining his edge in vision and anticipation. He will hold his own in coverage with sporadic value in the pass rush. 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. Caldwell comes from a small school (Louisiana-Monroe) while lacking size (5’9” and 186 lbs.) leading to him being overlooked in the draft. Wright has plus vision and instincts, but he lacks NFL speed for his position which puts him at risk when asked to change direction.
Update: Schobert took over as a full-time starter in 2017 while delivering 144 tackles and three sacks. Kindred was on the field for 537 plays in 2016 and 691 in 2017. Last year he missed the last two games due to wrist injury. Kindred had 57 tackles, six defended passes and an Int in 2017. Caldwell isn’t in the league any more and Wright never made the team in 2016 (now plays for Arizona).
TE Seth DeValve was the Browns fourth pick in the 4th round. Seth played wide receiver in college at Princeton where he offered plus size (6’4” and 245 Lbs.). The Browns will try to move him to TE where he needs to improve his strength and possibly his route running ability.
Update: DeValue showed growth last year (33/395/1), but he doesn’t project to be a full-time starter going forward.
In the fifth round, the Browns added G Spencer Drango. He offers plus strength with below par speed. The change to guard will help him at the next level as Spencer does have risk defending the pass rush. His best value will come in a power rushing attack.
Update: Drango was on the field for 599 plays in 2016 and 607 in 2017. He started the last nine games last year.
Overall Recap 2016: Cleveland gained four potential starting defensive players (DE, DE, LB, and S) from this class. Coleman is the only starting option on offense, but his opportunity takes a step back with Josh Gordon back the roster and Jarvis Landry added to the WR core.
2017 Draft Class
I thought the Browns did a nice job in this year’s draft (2017) while keeping an eye on the future. They had three first round drafts – DE Myles Garrett, S Jabrill Peppers, and TE David Njoku. Garrett looks like the real-life version of Vontae Mack who Cleveland drafted in the movie Draft Day. 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. He showed plus speed and strength in this year’s NFL Combine.
Update: A couple of injuries hurt the development of Garrett in his rookie season. He played in 11 games leading to 31 tackles and seven sacks. His game should offer impact upside and he’ll go down as a very good draft selection for the Browns down the road.
S Jabrill Peppers will add value in run support with enough speed to handle himself in the passing game. Peppers will have an edge in speed at his position while showing the willingness to hit. Jabrill comes with questions in ball skills while offering value as a returner. Once he learns to react rather than think, he’ll be one step closer to the ball where his returns skills will be exciting.
Update: Peppers wasn’t an impact player in his rookie season. He finished with 58 tackles, one Int and three defended passes. A knee injury cost him three games.
TE David Njoku was the third TE selected in the first round. As this point of his career, Njoku is more of an athlete with enough speed and quickness to make plays all over the field. His route running needs development while improving his catch rate especially in the heat of a battle. David has the rise to win many jump balls. He needs to improve his release when pressed by physical defenders plus add bulk to improve his value as blocker. At age 21, he has a bright future in the NFL when the pieces come together.
Update: Njoku wasn’t NFL ready when he came in to the league. He finished with 32 catches for 386 yards and four TDs while splitting time at TE. His talent should shine in the near future with better QB play and elite talent surrounding him at WR.
The Browns place their future bet at quarterback with DeShone Kizer in the second round. He has a NFL arm, which will threaten the defense in all areas. He stands tall in the pocket with the willingness to make some players with his legs. His accuracy in the medium and short ranges need improvement as well as his ability to read the whole field. I don’t get the feeling he makes the players around him better, which is what the great NFL QBs do. NFL defenses will have success against him when they force him to reload or move off his spot. DeShone will need some time to develop, but this team may need him to learn on the fly.
Update: Kizer showed some upside in 2017, but he wasn’t ready to start in the NFL. His decision making was poor, and he made too poor throws in the red zone. The Browns moved on from him already by trading him to the Packers.
In the 3rd and 5th round, Cleveland added a pair of defensive tackles – Larry Ogunjobi and Caleb Brantley. Larry 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. Brantley projects more as early down player with value off the snap. He lacks follow through to finish plays when rushing the QB after being shut down early off the snap. He tends to cheat the snap leading to many offside, which may be a sign of less upside down the road. Caleb needs to add more weight to upgrade his value as a run clogger.
Update: Ogunjobi didn’t see the field in 2016 while only adding low-end rotational value in 2017. Brantley barely saw the field in his rookie season.
CB Howard Wilson was added in the fourth round. His best asset is his short area quickness. Despite his lack of strength and size (6’1” and 184 lbs.), he handles himself well when asked to tackle. Wilson has a feel for the ball, but he needs more time to develop defending plus route runners. Looks the part with some risk in his deep speed. Howard missed much of the 2015 due to a torn ACL. Value pick with more upside coming.
Update: Howard missed all of last season with a knee injury.
The Browns do have talent on the offensive line, so T Roderick Johnson was the only swing to improve the depth on the line. His scouting report paints interesting picture, but he clearly has some issues with his technique. It seems like he fears speed and he tries to offset this shortfall by beating his man to the punch. If he misses, Johnson has downside risk. With better awareness and understanding of his ultimate goal, his game will improve quickly. It may take a downgrade in position, but he will help the Browns at some point in his career.
Update: Johnson missed all of last season with a knee injury.
With two picks in the seventh round, Cleveland invested in K Zane Gonzalez and RB Matt Dayes. Gonzalez has a big leg leading to upside in the long kicks and delivering touchbacks. Dayes has pass catching ability, but he lacks the talent to break many tackles and create in the open field. His finishing gear is below NFL standards while bring questions about his ability to pass protect.
Update: Gonzalez made 15 of his 20 field goals and 25 of 26 of his extra-points in his rookie season. Dayes remained buried on the depth chart.
Overall Draft Recap: The Browns gained three potential impact players (Garrett, Peppers, and Njoku) in this drafts. Each player should be much better in 2018. Their kicking position should be stable going forward.
Now back to need of finding an impact QB to set up the franchise for the next decade.
The top three quarterbacks in the 2018 draft class are: Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, and Josh Rosen. Here’s a look at each players resume:
Sam Darnold: As a two-year starter for USC, Darnold passed for 7,229 yards with 57 TDs and 22 TDs. Sam has a good feel for the pass rush with the ability to slide in the pocket to create a longer passing window. He won’t be a running threat, but Darnold can make score plays at the goal line and extend drive with his legs. If given an open field, he’ll take the long run. Most of his throws came out the shotgun. Sam has vision and the ability to locate his secondary receivers with quick decision making. He throws the ball well on the run while needing to improve his spiral when rushing his throw under duress. Darnold will trust his arm to make tight throws in coverage. At age 20, he’s looks poised to have a long career in the NFL. I see him somewhere in the middle of Brett Favre and Philip Rivers.
Josh Allen: Allen was asked to do a lot over the last two seasons at Wyoming. In his 25 games in 2016 and 2017, he passed for 5,015 yards while gaining another 727 yards on the ground. Josh had 44 TDs and 21 Ints in his college career with another 12 scores on the ground. His accuracy (56.2) isn’t where it needs to be to be successful early in his NFL career. Allen has a Vinny Testaverde fell with better wheels. His arm is top shelf while needing to prove he has the skill set to read NFL defenses and make better throws under a shorter passing window. Josh will be tough to tackle, but he needs to improve his pocket presence and decision making. The comparison to Carson Wentz could be a trap and push a team to draft him higher than his true value. I see more of a projection than a Super Bowl winner. With the right team and coaching staff, his game has chance to much higher.
Josh Rosen: Over two and half seasons at UCLA, Rosen passed for 9,340 yards with 59 TDs and 26 Ints. His running ability will minimal rushing plays, but he can sneak a TD or even extend some drives with his legs. He played many snap from under center where he was a much better timing passer than the other two options while adding ball fakes to move the deep safeties. Josh will make good pre-snap reads while getting the ball out quickly in this drops. At the goal, Rosen can throw fades on the outside or challenge the middle of the field with accuracy. His arm strength is below NFL average and he does have a history of injuries (shoulder in 2016 and two concussion in 2017). I like his pro feel the best of the three top QB options, but his overall package drops in down a notch or two.
Based on my research, I’m placing my bet on Sam Darnold as the future QB for the Browns. He has youth on his side plus his release and mechanics can be helped with coaching. Rosen should be the quickest to start in the NFL while offering strength in scoring ability out of the gate in the red zone. Allen could have the highest ceiling plus the biggest downside.
Now with the fourth pick, I’m taking without a doubt RB Saquon Barkley. Cleveland did good job on the offseason adding a bridge QB who has the ability to minimize mistake and carry the torch to their future QB while also adding more fire power at WR. All the pieces are set for a huge uptick in scoring would be helped greatly by a franchise three down back.
Over three seasons at Penn State, Barkley rushed for 3,843 yards with 51 combined TDs plus 102 catches for 1,195 yards. He’ll instantly upgrade the run and pass game just by being on the field. Carlos Hyde is a serviceable RB, but this franchise needs to shoot for the high upside they can at RB.
The real drama will be watching to see who get taken second and third in the draft.
The bottom line here is Cleveland fans deserves some excitement offensively for the first time since the 60s with Jim Brown.
By developing the offense first, the Browns won’t need to be great on defense for two to three seasons. They will have two possible draft classes to shore up the offensive line, cornerback positions, and the other needed pieces on defense. If a team scores over 27 points per game, they will be competitive in many games.
With the right QB and Saquon Barkley, Cleveland will be position to a Super Bowl contender in the AFC in two to three seasons. When Tom Brady retires, Mr. Bill Belichick may even decide to walk through the door to upgrade the coaching staff.
For Browns’ fans, I’m excited for the team’s direction and the recent decision making in the draft and free agent signings. Congrats on the 2020 Super Bowl Title.
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