Daily Dr. Roto — June 26, 2018
After what seems like decades of futility, the Cleveland Browns might be on the precipice of making the playoffs. In this offseason, the Browns made numerous moves (via trade, free agency, and the draft) to position themselves for success.
QB Tyrod Taylor
Regardless of whether you appreciate Taylor's skill set, he has taken a team to the playoffs before. He is careful with the football (he's thrown only 10 INTs in the past two seasons), and his completion percentage has been over 61% for the past two seasons. What Taylor gives the Browns is something even more critical: Taylor's presence keeps the Browns competitive on the field until #1 draft pick Baker Mayfield is ready to take over as the starter.
The Browns running game was severely lacking last season not only because of some OL issues but because of game flow. The team was behind in so many games that RB Isaiah Crowell never had a chance to get going. This season, the Browns have a three-headed running back monster. First, the team brought in Carlos Hyde in free agency. Hyde played football at Ohio State and is used to running in inclement weather. The team drafted Nick Chubb out of Georgia in Round 2 of the NFL Draft. Chubb has a chance to be an impact player in short yardage and goal-line situations. Finally, the Browns resigned Duke Johnson to be their third down pass catching back. Johnson has had 127 catches in the past two seasons and is incredibly reliable as a blocker.
Josh Gordon returned to the NFL last season after missing serious time due to various suspensions. When he is healthy and focused, Gordon has incredible separation and game-changing speed. The Browns also traded for Jarvis Landry in the off-season. This was a stellar addition, as the Dolphins could not afford to pay his contract demands. Landry runs crisp, picture-perfect routes, and always seems to find a way to get open. He will be a great crutch for both Taylor and Mayfield. Additionally, the Browns have former first-round pick Corey Coleman on their roster. Coleman has not produced much yet, and there is talk that the team will move him before the start of the season. If they move him, rookie Antonio Callaway can easily slide into Coleman's spot. Callaway has a similar skill set to Coleman but slipped in the draft due to off-the-field "knucklehead" concerns. In fact, some experts felt that Callaway had the second best overall skill set in this year's draft. If Callaway can mature quickly, he might be able to find immediate playing time.
It usually takes tight ends about three seasons to adjust to the NFL. Browns TE David Njoku is entering his second season, and the team expects him to break out. Njoku is a freakish athlete who can run, catch, block, and be a difference maker on offense. There were sparks of greatness in his game as a rookie, but the team needs him to be way more consistent this season. However, if the team uses him correctly (especially his size in the red zone), he might be able to make a huge offensive impact.
The pieces are in place for the Browns to make a playoff run. If they come up short this season, look for head coach Hue Jackson to get fired as the team will try to bring in an established coach to help this team get over the hump and into the playoffs. Could the Browns be the 2018 version of the 2017 Rams? We’ll have to see, but it is possible.
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