Browns Draft Preview Capsule
49. CLEVELAND (7-8-1)
LAST SEASON: Following winless 2017, coach Hue Jackson was finally fired after eight games, and franchise made significant strides. Rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield led one of NFL’s most improved teams to most wins since 2014 while setting league rookie record with 27 TD passes. Rookie RB Nick Chubb ran for 996 yards and offense found another gear in second half under coordinator Freddie Kitchens, promoted after Todd Haley was fired. Kitchens was hired as Cleveland’s ninth full-time coach since 1999 in January. DE Myles Garrett had 13 ½ sacks and led defense that topped AFC with 31 takeaways.
FREE AGENCY: General manager John Dorsey pulled off winter’s biggest deal, acquiring superstar WR Odell Beckham Jr. in stunning trade. Browns also landed Pro Bowl DE Olivier Vernon in deal with Giants, who will have Cleveland’s first-round pick (No. 17 overall). Browns’ other major move was signing RB Kareem Hunt, released by Chiefs late last season after video emerged of him pushing, kicking woman. Hunt will serve eight-game suspension to begin season, but his arrival could impact RB Duke Johnson’s role and future. Signing of DT Sheldon Richardson lessens need for interior lineman.
THEY NEED: LB, CB, LT, K.
THEY DON’T NEED: QB, WR, RB.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: DT Dre’Mont Jones, Ohio State; CB Justin Layne, Michigan State; DE/OLB Chase Winovich, Michigan.
OUTLOOK: After picking first overall past two years, Browns aren’t under nearly as much pressure to nail draft and can build depth. Dorsey, though, might be itching to get back into first round and could make another bold move. Johnson’s situation may prompt draft-weekend deal. Browns re-signed LT Greg Robinson to one-year deal following his solid performance, but team still needs to address important spot for long term. Dorsey has remodeled secondary, but there remains need for cornerback to pair with Denzel Ward, who had strong rookie season.