This season, the Cleveland Browns will finally rise amongst the NFL’s best teams after years of futility. This past offseason, the Browns had the first overall pick and finally got their franchise quarterback in Oklahoma superstar Baker Mayfield. Baker built himself a very impressive resume at Oklahoma winning a Heisman Trophy in 2017 and racking up 12,292 yards to go with a mind boggling 119 touchdowns and only 14 interceptions throughout 3 years per CBS Sports. With that being said, in addition to all of the talent he possesses, he also brings tremendous passion and heart to both the team and the locker room which is something the Browns have not had in the past. His drive to win and energy he brings to the team scares opposing defenses just as much as his strong arm and accurate passing. He also silenced his critics who said he was a “system quarterback” in college by being the runner up as the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year behind only New York Giants sensational running back Saquon Barkley and significantly exceeding expectations after replacing a struggling Tyrod Taylor weeks into the season. Baker won 7 games after only being under center starting week 3 with a mediocre supporting cast and Browns General Manager John Dorsey has made major improvements to help his franchise quarterback.
To begin the Browns busy offseason, they signed former Jets, Seahawks, and Vikings defensive end Sheldon Richardson to help bulk up their defensive line. Sheldon Richardson is a very under appreciated talent who was drafted 13th overall in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft. While he doesn’t pile up impressive numbers like he once did, he is someone who can disrupt the passing game and help draw attention away from former first overall pick and superstar pass rusher Myles Garrett. With Sheldon Richardson now in the mix requiring attention from opposing offensive lines, Myles Garrett should see less double teams and should be put in position to improve after an already stellar season.
Next up in John Dorsey’s agenda, he made one of the biggest offseason splashes the NFL has seen in a very long time. He added one of the most talented receivers in the game today, acquiring Odell Beckham Jr. along with defensive end Olivier Vernon in exchange for offensive lineman Kevin Zeitler, former first round defensive back Jabrill Peppers, the Browns 2019 first round pick, and a third round pick. This was seen as a head scratching move for the Giants and a no brainer for the Browns making it a very lopsided trade. While acquiring Jabrill Peppers who is a young player with potential and some draft capital may be a decent haul from Giants general manager Dave Gettleman’s perspective, it is not nearly enough to pry one of the best wide receivers this league has ever seen along with a talented defensive lineman away from the Giants. Olivier Vernon was once viewed as one of the Giants prized offseason acquisitions and is far from just a throw in despite being overshadowed by Odell Beckham Jr. Olivier Vernon was selected to the Pro Bowl this past year as a replacement to star outside linebacker Khalil Mack. He makes the Browns defensive line that already consists of Myles Garrett and Sheldon Richardson a unit that opposing offenses do not want to see. More importantly, adding Odell Beckham Jr. reunites him with former LSU teammate and star receiver Jarvis Landry. The two already have good chemistry playing together and give quarterback Baker Mayfield arguably the best receiving duo in the entire NFL. Odell Beckham Jr. is amongst the leagues best wide receivers and racks up both a tremendous amount of receiving yards and touchdowns when healthy. According to Sports Illustrated, Odell set the NFL record for fastest player to 5,000 receiving yards since the merger in 1970. He has not only already set a very impressive milestone, but is on pace to become one of the best wide receivers to ever play football. While his departure from New York was far from pleasant and gave him a bad locker room reputation, he was simply just unhappy in a Giants uniform and did not believe in the direction they were heading. He shows an incredible amount of passion for the game and winning, similar to his quarterback, and has finally found himself somewhere he wants to be.
The addition of all of this talent including Odell Beckham Jr, Sheldon Richardson, and Olivier Vernon with a franchise quarterback and young players that are only improving, the Browns are in position to go from being an absolute joke to AFC champions. They also added former Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt after being cut due to his off the field issues. The Browns are already in position to make noise and this addition, if he can resolve his issues, only makes them even better. The Browns offensive line was ranked second in the entire league last season behind only the Pittsburgh Steelers according to Pro Football Focus and adding Odell Beckham Jr. to the mix makes their offense enter the conversation for best in the NFL. When the 2019-2020 season is all said and done, Dorsey’s moves these past few seasons puts the Cleveland Browns in position to win the AFC and even potentially the Super Bowl.
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