It’s that time in the offseason where everyone is in limbo and we don’t know what to do with ourselves. So let’s touch base with the basics. This will be John Dorsey’s second year with the team. We get to enjoy a full season of Baker Mayfield and now see what Freddie Kitchens has store as the new head coach.
Now is the time to fill the necessary holes and improve in areas of concern. The main priority should be seeking out free agents. This pool includes proven veterans and young unproven talent with potential. The draft is secondary because you shouldn’t expect all rookies to make an impact immediately. Plus, to rely solely on the draft can be disastrous. It’s important to utilize both free agency and the draft effectively because it can make or break a team.
Free agency doesn’t officially start until March 13, but Cleveland has already made some deals addressing areas of need and bolstering other areas. The Browns backfield looked good as is, but now you add Kareem Hunt (when available) with Nick Chubb and Duke Johnson and the sky is the limit. They resigned Greg Robinson to a one year deal to sure up the left tackle position. He was tarnished goods until the Browns inserted him into the starting lineup and he progressed as the season did. Cleveland also signed wide receiver Jaelen Strong to help with pending free agents like Rashard Higgins (restricted), Breshad Perriman and Rod Streater (both unrestricted).
So with the offense looking solid at the moment, especially with left tackle handled, I anticipate the Browns to be active for defensive players in free agency. We all know Myles Garrett is a force to be reckoned with and I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m a fan of Emmanuel Ogbah and Larry Ogunjobi and I still think we need to improve up the middle and possible pair a partner in crime with Garrett.
I’m looking at Frank Clark from the Seattle Seahawks who happens to be a Cleveland native that attended Glenville High School. He is an explosive defensive end that would complement Garrett quite well. Clark has had unbelievable production over the past three years with 32 sacks, 66 quarterback hits and 31 tackles for a loss. He has a knack for getting beyond the line of scrimmage so the Browns can definitely use his services and a deal shouldn’t cost too much.
If Clark signs elsewhere or asks for too much money, I would look to Za’Darius Smith as a nice consolation prize. He would not only be a cheaper option, but he could be just as effective. The 26 year old registered 8.5 sacks, 25 quarterback hits and 10 tackles for a loss in eight starts last season. Not only are you adding a quality player, but you are also taking away from Baltimore too.
The next ideal move would be to sign a cornerback. I would target Bradley Roby, a former Ohio State Buckeye. Throw Roby into mix with Denzel Ward, Terrance Mitchell and TJ Carrie and the Browns have hell of a rotation. Roby would provide insurance for Mitchell who broke his arm last year and for Ward who suffered two concussions. Roby is going to attract suitors and will probably end up signing a deal richer than Cleveland is willing to offer.
If that happens, Kareem Jackson would be my plan B. The 30 year old is proven and may come a cheaper price. He may be a little inconsistent at times, but it’s hard to ignore his 27 passes defended and 124 solo tackles over the past two years.
Finally with the uncertainty of Higgins and Perriman, the Browns should add Tyrell Williams to a group of receivers that includes Jarvis Landry and Antonio Callaway. Williams would be the perfect deep threat to replace Perriman if he should not return. We all witnessed what he was capable of when he caught three passes for 118 yards and two scores here against the Browns in Cleveland.
Once free agency is taken care of, the next task is to have a successful draft and I feel pretty confident with John Dorsey in charge. He has 10 draft picks to tinker around with so expect some draft day trades because this isn’t a team that needs to add that many rookies. We have already been there for the past two years. We stripped the teams of all our veterans, accumulated draft picks and drafted heavy.
Cleveland has the assets to package a deal to move up in the first round, but I think they will stay put at 17. They can go either offense or defense, but I guarantee it will be a lineman. A defensive tackle like Ed Oliver or Dexter Lawrence is possible as is offensive tackle Andre Dillard. It also wouldn’t surprise me if they a long look at D.K. Metcalf who may be a reach at 17 but they could pair their second round pick and one of their later round picks to move up in the second round to grab him.
Regardless of whom they actually select, I know their first three selections will address positions of need. I expect both sides of the line to be the main focus while adding a pass catcher or two. The Browns will probably also look at a cornerback in addition to a linebacker, depending on what Jaime Collins future looks like.
There is no telling who the Cleveland Browns are going to target, but what I do know is that Dorsey is a genius and I trust the man. He already has the Browns turning the corner in just one short year. He will make the smart decisions with our valued picks and he will find some hidden gems in the mid rounds. Last year he drafted Genard Avery in the fifth round and he played like first or second round talent so keep up eyes peel and ears open for the start of the 2019 offseason.