Despite entering the 2019 regular season with some lofty postseason hopes and a multitude of playoff predictions from NFL ‘experts’ everywhere, Baker Mayfield and the ‘revitalized’ Cleveland Browns turned out to be nothing more than an over-hyped bunch that underachieved early and often a year ago.
Cleveland Browns SB Odds & Analysis After Draft
Now, on their second head coach in as many season, the Browns are hoping to take the step forward they expected to last season. Will new head coach Kevin Stefanski be able to turn things around or is there a culture of losing embedded in the Browns that it will derail any hopes of reaching the playoffs they might be entertaining. Following free agency and the recently completed 2020 NFL draft, let’s find out what the future holds for Baker Mayfield and the Browns.
The Browns floundered in going 6-10 last season and just 5-10-1 ATS. Along the way, Cleveland struggled mightily on offense in finishing the 2019 campaign ranked 22nd overall, 22nd against the pass, 12th against the run and 22nd in points allowed (20.9 ppg). More importantly, quarterback Baker Mayfield took a sizable step backwards from his rookie campaign by completing just 59.4 percent of his passes while throwing 21 interceptions against 22 TD passes.
To address their needs on offense, signed veteran tight end Austin Hooper, tackle Jack Conklin and quarterback Case Keenum in free agency. Cleveland then added to their offense by drafting Alabama tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. with the 10th overall pick in the draft while grabbing Florida Atlantic tight end Harrison Bryant in the fourth round, Washington center Nick Harris in the fifth round and Michigan wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones in the sixth round.
Not only did the Cleveland Browns struggle on offense a year ago, but they were underwhelming at best on defense as well. Cleveland finished the 2019 season ranked 22nd overall, seventh against the pass, 30th against the run and 20th in points allowed (24.6 ppg).
To upgrade their defense, Cleveland signed veteran linebacker B.J. Goodson, safety Karl Joseph, defensive tackle Andrew Billings, cornerback Kevin Johnson, safety Andrew Sendejo and defensive end Adrian Clayborn in free agency. The Browns also added LSU safety Grant Delpit in the second round, Missouri defensive tackle Jordan Elliott in the third round and LSU linebacker Jacob Phillips in the third round.
Overall, I have to say that the Browns did very well in free agency and the NFL draft. Cleveland will have two new and very good, starting tackles in Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills jr. that should help improve their passing and rushing attacks and their signing of talented tight end Austin Hooper gives Baker Mayfield a credible target down the middle of the field. On defense, the Browns also did a good job of bringing in several veterans that look like an upgrade over what they had a year ago while drafting three players that could start sooner rather than later in second and third rounds. I also like Cleveland’s hiring of former Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski and I believe the Browns will respond to him far better than they did the ‘voiceless’ Freddie Kitchens.
The bad news is that Cleveland still looks like a team that is light years behind division rival Baltimore in the AFC North, not to mention the fact that Pittsburgh will definitely be better in 2020 with franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger under center. Right now, I’m thinking 8-8 sounds about right for Cleveland in 2020. Anything beyond that is a big ass bonus for the playoff hopeful Browns!