The Cleveland Browns came into the 2019 season with a ton of promise. A new bright head coach, a young quarterback coming off a solid rookie season, two excellent running backs and receivers, and an improving defense. Well, we all know how that worked out. Freddie Kitchens was far from an offensive genius, resulting in him getting fired after the season. John Dorsey was also fired following the season and the two have been replaced by Andrew Barry and Kevin Stefanski. The Browns could follow in the footsteps of the 49ers and make a deep playoff run a year after they were surrounded by hype.
Make sure to check out all of our in-depth power rankings here.
- Overall – 81.308 (14th)
- Offense – 82.295 (13th)
- Defense – 79.425 (20th)
- Coach and Culture – 79.25 (23rd)
- Home Field Advantage – 81, T-17th (4% Defense, 2% Overall)
Quarterbacks – 79, 15th (36% Offense, 27% Overall)
Baker Mayfield took a major step back last year following a promising rookie season. Mayfield only improved on his yardage total but fell off in every other category, only throwing one more touchdown than interception. His completion percentage dipped four percent and his yards per game almost 30 yards. It could’ve very well been Kitchens that hindered Mayfield’s availability last year, but he needs to prove that his rookie year was the player he really is.
Stefanski brought in a familiar face in Case Keenum to be the backup to Mayfield. With Stefanski and Keenum in Minnesota, the Vikings went to the NFC Championship in 2017. He completed over 67 percent of his passes, 27 touchdowns, and seven interceptions that year. Since then, Keenum has spent a year in Denver and Washington. Last year in Washington, he wasn’t able to bring Washington’s lackluster offense success as he was benched in favor of Dwayne Haskins. If Mayfield were to struggle early and often, Stefanski could pull the trigger and put Keenum into the game as he knows how to run Stefanski’s system.
Garrett Gilbert is a familiar name and spent time torching defenses in the AAF and preseason. He posted a 61.5 completion percentage, 403 yards, and three touchdowns compared to no interceptions last year in the preseason.
Running Backs – 88, 7th (4% Offense, 3% Overall)
Even with Nick Chubb on the roster, Dorsey signed Kareem Hunt before the season. Dorsey drafted Hunt in Kansas City and it proved to be a good signing for Cleveland. In eight games, Hunt totaled 80 touches for 464 yards and three touchdowns. Even with Hunt averaging ten touches a game, Chubb was one of the best backs in the league. He had over 1,700 scrimmage yards, including almost 1,500 yards on the ground and eight touchdowns, averaging five yards a carry. The duo of Chubb and Hunt is one of the best in the league and with both on a 16-game slate this year, could each have similar production to each other.
Dontrell Hilliard and D’Ernest Johnson played sparingly last year with Chubb and Hunt coming into their own as an elite duo. On 25 touches last year, Hilliard had 141 yards and two touchdowns while Johnson had 92 yards. Both figure to be in the battle for return duties this year.
Pass Catchers – 85, T-8th (17% Offense, 8% Overall)
The duo of Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry wasn’t as explosive as many thought it would be. Well, neither was the Browns offense as a whole. The two combined for over 2,200 receiving yards and ten touchdowns. They retained Rashard Higgins, who projects as the third receiver in the offense but only posted four catches last year for 55 yards and a touchdown.
Damion Ratley and KhaDarel Hodge played limited roles last year. Taywan Taylor was added last offseason and didn’t have a single catch. Sixth-round pick, Donovan Peoples-Jones has a ton of upside but didn’t have much production at Michigan. The third receiver spot will likely go to Higgins, who should be recovered from his injuries and has a new coach who will actually use him.
The Browns surprised many with the signing of Austin Hooper in free agency. Stefanski has used multiple tight ends in his offense before though. Hooper is coming off the best season of his career. In 13 games, he caught 75 passes for 787 yards and six touchdowns. He will likely team up with former first-round pick, David Njoku. Injuries derailed Njoku last year. He only played in four games and caught five passes for 41 yards and a touchdown. His fifth-year option was picked up so the Browns have plans for him this year. The Browns saw Harrison Bryant slipping down the draft and scooped him up in the fourth round. Bryant could lead the Browns to eventually trade Njoku this year.
Offensive Line – 85, T-6th (24% Offense, 12% Overall)
The Browns made the offensive line a priority during the offseason. While Joel Bitonio and J.C. Tretter were solid on the interior, the two tackle slots were abysmal. Barry attacked those two spots by picking up Jack Conklin in free agency and using their first-round selection on Jedrick Wills. With Conklin and Wills, the tackle spots are now set and the only weak spot on the offensive line is at right guard. Wyatt Teller started eight games last year and surrendered multiple pressures and was graded low by PFF. Teller and Drew Forbes will battle for that spot.
Chris Hubbard and Kendall Lamm started at the tackle spots at some point last year but were abysmal, but will now be tasked with backing up Conklin and Wills, the position they should’ve been in originally. Nick Harris was drafted to potentially be the heir of Tretter at the center spot.
Run Defense – 76, T-25th (6% Defense, 2% Overall)
Cleveland ranked 30th in run defense last year and made it a priority during the offseason. The addition of Andrew Billings was quietly one of the best moves for the Browns this offseason. Billings was one of the best run defenders in the league for Cincinnati last year and now comes over the bridge to Cleveland. The Browns drafted Jordan Elliot in the third round. Chad Thomas is reliable depth behind the two starters in Larry Ogunjobi and Sheldon Richardson.
Pass Rush – 83, 11th (21% Defense, 10% Overall)
Cleveland only totaled 38 sacks last year. Myles Garrett totaled ten by himself but he also missed six games due to his suspension. Richardson and Ogunjobi combined for 8.5 sacks from the interior. Olivier Vernon was acquired by trading Kevin Zeitler and didn’t perform well opposite of Garrett, only totaling 3.5 sacks. Thomas, who played in a rotational role, outperformed Vernon. Adrian Clayborn was brought in as a depth piece coming off of a four-sack season in Atlanta.
There have been rumors that the Browns offered a contract to Jadeveon Clowney but Clowney declined. If he were to come to Cleveland, he has bigger name value than Vernon, but I’m not sure if he would outperform Vernon.
Linebackers – 72.5, T-27th (15% Defense, 4% Overall)
The Browns are an absolute mess at the linebacker spot. Wilson started all of last season but given how poor the run defense was, most of his tackles were too far downfield. He needs to prove he’s a difference-maker if he plans to stay at one of the starting spots. B.J. Goodson will likely start at the beginning of the season but has two newcomers looking to take his spot and was brought over from Green Bay during the offseason. Sione Takitaki was a major reach last year and disappointed immensely when he was given playing time last year. Cleveland drafted Jacob Phillips in the third round. He fits well in the defensive scheme and is similar to what the Browns had in Schobert. Wilson and Phillips will grab the two starting spots.
Secondary – 83, 9th (26% Defense, 17% Overall)
Cleveland’s two starting cornerbacks are set in Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams. The two missed eight games last year and combined for 13 pass deflections and two interceptions. With more time together and a better group of players behind them, the two will be much better this year. The nickel role will likely go to Terrance Mitchell as he has played as a serviceable starter for the last two years. Kevin Johnson was added to provide some veteran insurance. A.J. Green was one of the best undrafted free agents available and Cleveland scooped him up. Green could potentially vie for the starting nickel role with Mitchell.
Cleveland addressed the safety position with a vengeance, adding three new players to the group. Karl Joseph is a hard-hitter who has missed a ton of time due to injuries but should find a starting spot. The other spot will be a battle between 33-year old Andrew Sendejo and second-round pick, Grant Delpit at the start of camp. Sendejo isn’t what he used to be but Delpit has a concern with tackling. If Delpit didn’t have that issue, he wouldn’t have fallen to Cleveland in the second round and would win this job outright. The Browns also have Sheldrick Redwine who started five games last year and made 42 tackles.
Coach and Culture – 79.25, 23rd (19% Offense, 28% Defense, 15% Overall)
Stefanski brings a whole different approach compared to last year in Cleveland. Cleveland’s offense will likely be more run-oriented with play-action this year, similar to what Minnesota ran last year. A much-improved offensive line will help Mayfield out a ton. Stefanski and Alex Van Pelt‘s offense comes in ranked 19th in offensive coach and culture.
Joe Woods takes over the defense in Cleveland now which has a ton of moving pieces this year. The linebacking core is suspect and needs some improvement. The defense has a couple of superstars, but the depth is lacking in the secondary. Cleveland comes in tied for 24th in defensive coach and culture.
Cleveland fans need to start believing. The new general manager has a bright mind and has added a new offensive-minded head coach in Stefanski. The offensive line is now great besides the right guard spot and while the defense has a ton of moving pieces and new starters, is improving. In a stacked AFC North, the Browns could make their mark and sneak into the playoffs finally.
Questions and comments?
Hit us up on the Socials:
Check out our Facebook Group where you can read and post articles at The Scorecrow
Reddit Group where everyone can post without fear of being banned at The Scorecrow
Follow Mason Thompson on Twitter @Thompson22Mason
Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images