Cleveland

NFL: Browns Look Like Super Bowl Contenders, Off-Season Winners

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CLEVELAND- The city of Cleveland hosted a fun NFL draft with a few shocking twists and turns. In this case, the host city looks like it has the top team in the division. It sounds like a bold prediction given the Browns significant lack of success since returning to the league in 1999. However, the team paid attention to its number one weakness, lack of pass coverage.

The team addressed this weakness in the off-season after it signed Former Los Angeles Rams Safety John Johnson III. The team also signed former Rams cornerback Troy Hill. However, these two moves on their own weren’t enough to establish a dominant secondary.

Many mock drafts had the Browns taking a linebacker or a defensive tackle in the first round. Instead, the Browns did something no one expected, the team drafted speedy cornerback Greg Newsome II. While it wasn’t exactly the most predictable move, it filled an obvious need. Greedy Williams has a tough time staying healthy. The Browns had little choice but to add at least two cornerbacks in the off-season. With Newsome II and Hill, the Browns defense is in a much better position to start the season with a long winning streak. The Browns also drafted linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah out of Notre Dame in the second round. The team desperately needed a pass coverage linebacker. These four additional additions will make the Browns secondary capable of shutting down passing attacks. The additions of JaDaveon Clowney and Takarist McKinley are also vital for the Browns. If Clowney manages to stay healthy, then the dynamic duo of him and Myles Garrett may be very bad for opposing quarterbacks. These two edge threats can definitely shut down the running game but they are also solid at pressuring quarterbacks. That will provide the secondary with plenty of chances to intercept passes. Although Cleveland released Sheldon Richardson to clear cap space, the Browns drafted former Ohio State defensive tackle Tommy Togiai.

 

 

Racking up interceptions was something the Browns excelled in last season despite giving up an average of 265.4 passing yards per game. The Browns were 27th in the league in pass defense which is why the team made so many moves to address that weakness.

 

There may still be debate about whether or not Baker Mayfield is truly the Browns franchise quarterback. The Browns exercised Mayfield’s 5th-year contract option. Mayfield did enough to establish the trust of the Browns front office. He needs to pass for more yards and touchdowns this season. Mayfield has the golden opportunity to be a top 12 quarterback in the league this year. Mayfield will have a healthy Odell Beckham returning back from injury, Jarvis Landry, Austin Hooper, David Njoku, Rashard Higgins, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and speedy rookie Anthony Schwartz out of Auburn who was the fastest receiver in the draft. Mayfield also has the league’s top offensive line with Jedrick Wills, Joel Bitonio, Wyatt Teller, Jack Conklin, and J.C. Tretter.

 

Mayfield doesn’t even have to pass many times as the Browns will certainly commit to being a top-five rushing team again. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt will continue to dominate opponents’ run defenses. Cleveland already has the taste of playoff success after defeating Pittsburgh 48-37 in the Wild Card Round. The Browns nearly won against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium but lost 22-17. The Browns came a long way from being a 6-10 underachiever in 2019. Cleveland has a brutal schedule in 2021 which will likely include several primetime games likely starting as soon as week one. However, the 2021 Browns may be the best team ever assembled in Browns history.

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