For the Cleveland Browns to be a post-hype riser in 2020, these five players have to be great.
The Cleveland Browns seemed to find something late in the 2018 season, prompting the promotion of interim offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens to head coach in order to keep him working with Baker Mayfield. Then they went out and traded for wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., and were easily declared the offseason champions.
With all the hype and expectations, it ultimately wasn’t all that surprising that the Browns landed with a thud at 6-10 last year.
Kitchens was of course fired after just one season, and he was replaced by Minnesota Vikings’ offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski. General manager John Dorsey is also gone, replaced by Andrew Berry.
The Browns are resetting things again, but without the heaviest burden of expectations heading into the 2020 season. If they are to make a post-hype rise this year, these five players have to step up and be great.
5. OT Jack Conklin
The Browns addressed their offensive line this offseason, which would make it easy to put No. 10 overall pick offensive tackle Jedrick Wills here. But Conklin has the contract (three-years, $42 million), and the acumen (Pro Football Focus’ No. 9 offensive tackle in 2019) to be the most critical cog in bolstering Baker Mayfield’s protection.
Conklin has spent his entire career at right tackle, and he’s in line to stay there. But if Wills’ move across to left tackle (after protecting Tua Tagovaila’s blind side at Alabama) comes slowly in a unique offseason, it’s worth wondering if a change in plan will come. Even if Conklin has to make the switch to the left side, and learn how to do everything the opposite way he has always done, he’ll probably still be better than what the Browns had protecting Mayfield’s blind side in 2019.