Will this be the year that the Browns finally live up to the billing? The NFL draft will go a long way in deciding that for the much maligned organization.
The Cleveland Browns will enter the 2020 season with lofty expectations. On paper, those goals make a lot of sense. However, after another disappointing campaign in 2019, everyone associated with the organization should be cautious in making any bold predictions.
The Browns will enter the NFL Draft with seven draft picks, and having made several upgrades to the team in the early stages of free agency.
Specifically, the team made two huge money deals in acquiring the services of former All-Pro right tackle Jack Conklin and tight end Austin Hooper. In addition to these big splashes, the team brought in veteran quarterback Case Keenum to back up incumbent starter Baker Mayfield, and signed multiple one-year deals with cornerback Kevin Johnson, safeties and Karl Joseph and Andrew Sendejo and defensive tackle Andrew Billings.
Even with these moves, we can expect the Browns to still be in the market for another offensive tackle, a pass rusher, an inside linebacker (after losing both Christian Kirksey (cut) and Joe Schobert in free agency), a starting guard and a defensive tackle.
Cleveland brought in veteran defensive end Olivier Vernon with the expectation he’d compliment Myles Garrett as an edge rusher. That didn’t materialize. Vernon is now on the last year of a mega deal (owed $15.5 million this year) and was ineffective a season ago. He’s also missed 11 games in the last two seasons and does not appear to be a candidate to re-sign with the Browns.
With so much invested in the offense, look for the team to strike early in this draft at improving the defense, starting at No. 10 overall with edge rusher K’Lavon Chaisson from the national champion LSU Tigers.
Chaisson has all the tools, and he’s still learning. He’s not the greatest run defender but with some added strength, he could certainly get there. This is an excellent pairing with Garrett that will form a formidable pass rush in Cleveland for years to come.