Despite missing out on the playoffs once again last season, the Cleveland Browns stole the headlines on multiple occasions. First, they landed their first win since 2016 by besting the New York Jets on 21st September. Then they appeared to find their franchise quarterback in Baker Mayfield. Finally, the Browns finished the season with more wins than they had claimed in their last three seasons combined, holding a 7-8-1 record to land third in the AFC North.
To continue their ascendency and capitalise on the crop of talent emerging at the FirstEnergy Stadium, the Browns decided to make waves in the offseason. First, they decided to sign-up the disgraced – but still immensely talented – running back Kareem Hunt, who had been released by the Kansas City Chiefs. Cleveland continued to add star power with defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. Next, they landed one of the biggest trades the NFL has seen for a long time.
In a blockbuster deal, the Browns sent safety Jabrill Peppers, guard Kevin Zeitler, a 2019 1st round pick (17th overall), and a 2019 3rd round pick (95th overall) to bring much-needed help at defensive end with Olivier Vernon as well as the phenomenal wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. A fan-favourite among the Giants contingency, Beckham Jr gives Mayfield an elite-level weapon and joins old friend and LSU teammate Jarvis Landry.
Following an offseason full of high-profile signings, the focus now turns to the team’s needs in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft, with Cleveland’s first selection being in the second round at 49th overall.
Cleveland Browns team needs in the 2019 NFL Draft
To see what the team needs, we must first assess if the Browns are still rebuilding or are ready to take another big step forward. Simply put, Cleveland have transformed themselves from potential dark horses to make it to the playoffs to now being tipped to take their division.
In the running to the draft, the Browns are at the same odds as the Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Chargers to win Super Bowl LIV at 14/1, only trailing the New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles Rams, New England Patriots, and Kansas City Chiefs. With weapons like Beckham Jr and Landry at Mayfield’s disposal, they’ll be at short odds to win almost any game in play when behind as the offence boasts so much firepower.
So, the team should look to bring in players who can upgrade their current roster immediately, helping them to live up to the new and lofty expectations.
Despite Kareem Hunt being banned for the first half of the season, the Browns are certainly not in need of a running back as Nick Chubb is more than talented enough to hold down the fort while Duke Johnson plays as a decent complimentary back. The consensus is that Cleveland should aim for a cornerback to help solidify the secondary. Denzel Ward was a revelation when fit last season and the team would benefit greatly from adding a talented player to start across from him.
As current mock drafts go, the likes of Jamel Dean, Rock Ya-Sin, and possibly Amani Oruwariye could be the best of the cornerbacks available by the time it comes to Cleveland’s first pick of the 2019 NFL Draft.