After a disastrous 2016 season where the Cleveland Browns finished 1-15 with the top pick in the draft and a glaring hole at quarterback, it seems that the team had no where to go but up. Turns out, that was wrong. The team brought in Sashi Brown with the idea of doing Major League Baseball style ‘Money Ball’ in the NFL. But the move took a 3-13 team to a 1-15 team, so 2017 would be the chance to turn things around. In the draft they took the top prospect, defense end Myles Garrett as well as safety Jabrill Peppers and tight end David Njoku all in the first round, the grabbed quarterback DeShon Kizer in the second. They also traded in an NBA style salary dump and got quarterback Brock Osweiler, a player that was once thought to be a franchise QB just a year before. Kizer and Osweiler would compete with Kevin Hogan and Cody Kessler for the starting job.
Kizer won the starting job, with the team choosing to cut Osweiler and pay him millions in guaranteed money not to play. He would end up playing for Denver. Kizer started 15 of 16 games with a completion percentage of 53.6 for 2,894 yards with 11 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. That is not a good season, even for a rookie. Garrett, the top pick in the draft, ended up playing only 10 games because of injury, but did get 7 sacks in that time showing potential. Peppers had probably the best season of the rookies with Njoku playing a decent amount but not making a huge impact. The team won their four preseason games and then lost all sixteen regular season games. The were actually able to get worse than the 2016 team. This cost Sashi Brown his job and the team replaced him quickly with John Dorsey who was also being considered for the New York Giants GM job. Hue Jackson remained head coach, but the offensive staff was changed to offensive coordinator Todd Hurley.
It’s hard to get past the fact that the Browns appear to have missed on a quarterback again. Kizer hasn’t really shown anything in 15 games to make them think he’s the future for the team. Mock drafts have them picking a quarterback with the first pick, others are speculating that they’ll try to get one of the free agents like Kirk Cousins or A.J. McCarron. Both are options and going with someone with some experience may be a better choice than yet another rookie. But the team has glaring holes at wide receiver, corner and running back as well as possible retirement of left tackle Joe Thomas and need at deep safety to allow Peppers to play his more natural position closer to the line. The Browns have made one bad decision after another and have gotten themselves in a deep hole where a lot of free agents will avoid the team. They can’t really get the teams that might make the drastic turn around possible. A return to the fundamentals and building the team through the trenches and ground game may be the only thing that will get the team back on the right path.