Category Archives: Cleveland Browns

2018 AFC North Standings Predictions

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers are certainly going to be super bowl contenders once again in 2018 as they are led by a terrific offense. Ben Roethlisberger is still a top quarterback in the NFL despite his age and it helps that he has Le’Veon Bell who is probably the best running back in the NFL. Also, the Steelers have arguably the best wide receiver group in the NFL with Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and rookie 2nd round pick James Washington. It is difficult to find a weakness on the Steelers offense and that is what will carry this team once again during the 2018 season. Meanwhile, the Steelers defense is what could hold the Steelers back this season. They do have some good talent on the defensive line with players like Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, and Bud Depree. However, the secondary and linebacker groups for the Steelers could prove once again to be a major issue in 2018. TJ Watt is a rising star in the NFL at linebacker and Vince Williams has been a productive player for the Steelers. However, they didn’t do anything to address the inside linebacker position this offseason and that could be a major area of weakness in 2018. Meanwhile, the Steelers secondary is really appearing to once again be the weakness of the entire team. Rookie 1st round safety Terrell Edmunds should help to strengthen that group, but the safety position still needs some help. Also, the cornerback position is thin for Pittsburgh as they have Artie Burns and Joe Haden, but not much else. Pittsburgh could struggle to defend the pass in 2018 and the defense as a whole could be a big weakness for the Steelers. Pittsburgh is still the best team in the AFC north, although they aren’t really any better than they were last season.

2. Baltimore Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens had a goal of adding some more explosiveness to their offense this offseason and that’s exactly what they did especially by drafting speedy quarterback Lamar Jackson in the 1st round. Jackson probably won’t be the starter at QB right away, but he is so athletic that he can be used as a weapon at other positions. He can also help to put more pressure on quarterback Joe Flacco to perform. Alex Collins figures to be the lead running back for Baltimore in 2018 after he performed well last season. The Ravens will need him to play well to take more pressure off of Flacco at quarterback. Also, the Ravens completely revamped their passing game as they added tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews in the draft. Also, the team added wide receivers Michael Crabtree, John Brown, and Willie Snead to presumably be their new starters at that position. It’s still not a great receiver group, but it really shouldn’t be worse than what Baltimore had last season. Baltimore also has a decent offensive line led by Marshal Yanda, yet the loss of starting center Ryan Jensen will really hurt that unit. Meanwhile, the Ravens figures to be just as good as it was last season. They have a really good secondary led by their star safety duo of Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson. Also, the Ravens have some good linebackers led by Terrell Suggs who had 11 sacks last season. However, the Ravens need to find another pass rusher to step up by Suggs or else too much pressure will be put on Baltimore’s secondary. Baltimore’s defense will likely carry the team once again this season, but the offense should be better than it was in 2017. If Baltimore’s offense can just be decent then the Ravens could be serious playoff contenders.

3. Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals are kind of a team that is stuck in the middle of being a playoff contender and being one of the worst teams in the NFL. They have a good running back duo with Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard. Also, they have one of the best wide receivers in the NFL with A.J. Green. However, the rest of the receivers are kind of a mystery at this point. John Ross is a talented receiver, but he didn’t have a good rookie year as he struggled to stay healthy. Brandon LaFell and Tyler Boyd provide good depth at wide receiver for Cincinnati, but they are only reliable 3rd targets at best. The Bengals also don’t know what to expect from quarterback Andy Dalton in 2018. Dalton is the type of player that can play at a pro-bowl level or he could be a below average starter. If the Bengals want to go anywhere next season then they need him to step up as he has plenty of talent around him on offense. Cincinnati’s offensive line should be much improved next season especially with the additions of Cordy Glenn and Billy Price. Cincinnati’s offense has some potential, but it all revolves around the play of Andy Dalton. Meanwhile, the Bengals defense appears to be the strength of the team heading into next season. They have three good pass rushers with Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap, and Carl Lawson. Also, they have a couple of good linebackers with Preston Brown and Vontaze Burfict. The secondary is very talented as well since they have Dre Kirkpatrick, Darqueze Dennard, and William Jackson at cornerback. Cincinnati doesn’t have too much weakness on defense and it should help to carry their team in 2018. If the Bengals can improve on offense this season then they could possibly be a playoff team.

4. Cleveland Browns

There is finally some hope for the Cleveland Browns franchise after winning only one game the past two seasons combined. However, Browns fans shouldn’t get their hopes up too much as they still have several holes to fill on their roster. Cleveland now has much more talent this season especially on offense. They now have a terrific wide receiver group after the acquisition of Jarvis Landry this offseason. If Josh Gordon can stay out of trouble and Corey Coleman can stay healthy then the Browns figure to have one of the best receiver groups in the NFL. Also, the Browns have a terrific running back group after they drafted Nick Chubb in the 2nd round and signed Carlos Hyde in free agency. They also have 3rd-down back Duke Johnson that will make the running back position for the Browns. It will be interesting to see how the Browns split up the playing time for each of the running backs as any of those running backs have a legitimate chance to be the starter. The Browns also should have an improved offensive line with the additions of offensive tackles Chris Hubbard and Austin Corbett this offseason. The only real uncertainty for Cleveland is at the quarterback position. Tyrod Taylor was acquired this offseason and he will likely be the starter early this season. However, rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield is waiting in the wings and it is very likely that he will start sooner rather than later this season. The quarterback position has high potential for the Browns and it should be much better than last season, although it will likely hold the team back from contention this season. Meanwhile, on defense the Browns are stacked with plenty of young talent. They are particularly stacked at the linebacker position with Jamie Collins, Christian Kirksey, and the offseason addition of Mychal Kendricks. Cleveland has some weakness at the defensive tackle position, but they still have a couple of really good young pass rushers with Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah. Those two defensive ends have really high potential and they should only improve in 2018. The Browns also have a couple of really talented players in the secondary. They added cornerback Denzel Ward in the 1st round of the draft and they also have talented 2nd-year safety Jabrill Peppers. Cleveland still has some uncertainty at many positions including at quarterback, but they still should be much more competitive than they were last season.

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Best pick for every NFL team in the draft

Arizona Cardinals – Christian Kirk – Wide Receiver – Texas A&M – Drafted: 2nd Round

The Cardinals selection of quarterback Josh Rosen gets all of the hype and that is understandable since he has the chance to be the face of the franchise for many years. However, the pick that excites me the most is wide receiver Christian Kirk who they picked in the 2nd round of the draft. The Cardinals have Larry Fitzgerald as their top receiver, but he is about to be 35 years old and he might not be in the NFL much longer. The Cardinals didn’t really have much behind him on the depth chart and they certainly didn’t have a reliable 2nd option at the receiver position. Christian Kirk is a terrific wide receiver who has the speed to be a vertical threat and he has the ability to make contested catches as well. This is the perfect situation for him to be able to learn from a great receiver like Fitzgerald and this pick gives the Cardinals their receiver of the future.

Atlanta Falcons – Isaiah Oliver – Cornerback – Colorado – Drafted: 2nd Round

Cornerback wasn’t a big need for the Falcons coming into the draft as they already have two really good cornerbacks with Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford. However, Oliver gives the team some solid depth at the cornerback position and it will allow them more flexibility at the position. Oliver has good size, speed, and arm length which will make him a good outside cornerback. However, this move is good for the Falcons as it allows them to probably move the smaller cornerback Alford to the slot where he probably fits best. Oliver is a 1st round talent and it is remarkable that the Falcons were able to select him this far back in the 2nd round.

Baltimore Ravens – Lamar Jackson – Quarterback – Louisville – Drafted: 1st Round

The Ravens offense has not been good recently and most of that is due to the lack of playmakers on offense as well as the inconsistent play from quarterback Joe Flacco. The selection of Lamar Jackson solves both of these issues for the Ravens. Jackson is a dynamic playmaker especially since he is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in college history. Jackson has some work to do passing the ball as he has some mechanical issues and accuracy concerns. However, Jackson has a good arm and the mechanical issues should be able to be solved at the NFL level. Jackson is a decent quarterback, but what makes him such a great player is his ability to make plays running the ball. He might not be the starter right away at quarterback, but he will at least put some pressure on Flacco to improve next season. Also, Jackson should instill much more explosiveness for the Ravens offense for many years to come.

Buffalo Bills – Tremaine Edmunds – Outside Linebacker – Virginia Tech – Drafted: 1st Round

I don’t particularly like that the Bills gave up draft picks to move up and get Edmunds, but it is kind of hard to blame them for doing so considering his talent. Edmunds is a top 10 talent that they got with the 16th overall pick, so they definitely got some good value with this pick. Edmunds is a really fast and explosive linebacker that consistently makes plays all over the field. The Bills had a big need for help at linebacker especially after the departure of Preston Brown in free agency. However, Edmunds will instill some more playmaking ability to the Bills defense and he is ready to make an impact right away.

Carolina Panthers – Donte Jackson – Cornerback – LSU – Drafted: 2nd Round

The secondary has been a point of issue for the Panthers ever since Josh Norman left and it was a big need for the Panthers coming into the draft. However, Jackson is an impact player that should help Carolina right away. Jackson is one of the fastest players as he ran a 4.32 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. He doesn’t have the size to compare to some of the big receivers in the NFL like Mike Evans and Julio Jones, but he will compete and he has a knack for making big plays. This selection fills a big need for the Panthers especially when they have to face three pro-bowl caliber quarterbacks in their division.

Chicago Bears – Roquan Smith – Inside Linebacker – Georgia – Drafted: 1st Round

Roquan Smith is one of my favorite players in the entire draft mostly because he is a hard-hitter that has the athleticism to make plays all over the field. Smith is one of the best defensive players in the draft and he fills a need for the Bears at linebacker. The Bears badly needed some more athleticism and playmaking ability on defense, so this is the type of pick that will accomplish that. Smith can make an impact right away and he has the potential to be an all-pro linebacker in the NFL.

Cincinnati Bengals – Malik Jefferson – Outside Linebacker – Texas – Drafted: 3rd Round

This guy had an inconsistent career at Texas as he wasn’t particularly great during his first year. However, he really stepped up his play over the past 2 years and he looked like one of the best linebackers in the draft class as he had 79 tackles and 4 sacks last season. Jefferson is a good cover linebacker and he is a really useful player in space which is something that the Bengals had been lacking from their linebackers. He should make an impact right away with Vontaze Burfict suspended for the first 4 games of the season. However, he could compete for the starting job opposite of Burfict if he plays well while he fills in for Burfict. This pick provides much more athleticism for the Bengals defense and it should improve their linebacker group.

Cleveland Browns – Nick Chubb – Running Back – Georgia – Drafted: 2nd Round

The Cleveland Browns have their solution at the quarterback position, but another area of concern for the Browns was at the running back position. Cleveland did add Carlos Hyde in free agency, but he is a good pass-catcher which makes him a valuable 3rd down back. Cleveland needed to find an early-down back that could provide some power and they did so by drafting Nick Chubb in the 2nd round of the draft. Chubb is only a 1st or 2nd round back because he isn’t a very good pass catcher, yet he is the perfect complement to Hyde in the Browns running game. Chubb will provide more balance to the Browns offense and it will help take some of the pressure off of rookie QB Baker Mayfield.

Dallas Cowboys – Connor Williams – Offensive Tackle – Texas – Drafted: 2nd Round

The Cowboys have plenty of offensive line talent, but there are still a couple of positions where they need some help. Dallas especially needed to add some competition at right tackle or left guard and the good news is that Williams could be a good fit at either spot. Williams really was a top 10 talent not too long ago and it is good value for the Cowboys to be able to get him this late in the 2nd round. Williams will likely be the future starter at right tackle and he could even compete for the job right away.

Denver Broncos – Royce Freeman – Running Back – Oregon – Drafted: 3rd Round

Royce Freeman was as productive as any NFL running back in this draft class and he could be a steal for the Broncos in the 3rd round. Freeman has good size, but he also has very good speed. He helps to fill a big need for Denver after they released running back C.J. Anderson this offseason. However, Freeman can make a big impact for the Broncos right away as he will likely split carries with Devontae Booker. Freeman will provide more balance for Denver’s offense and he can help the Broncos win immediately.

Detroit Lions – Tyrell Crosby – Offensive Tackle – Oregon Drafted: 5th Round

It is kind of surprising that Crosby fell to the 5th round of the draft, but the Lions could still be getting good value if he lives up to his potential. Detroit needed some offensive line depth and he could be a really good backup offensive tackle in the NFL. He likely won’t make much of an impact right away, but he has the potential to be a starting right tackle at some point.

Green Bay Packers – Equanimeous St. Brown – Wide Receiver – Notre Dame – Drafted: 6th Round

Equanimeous St. Brown not only has a terrific name, but he is a very good NFL prospect as well. He is a a very big receiver at 6’5″, but he has rare speed for someone of his size as he ran 4.48 during the 40-yard dash at the combine. Sure, he didn’t have very good production during his time at Notre Dame. However, he is a talented prospect and it will help that he has Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball. St. Brown has a good chance to carve a role out in the Packers offense and if he does then he has the potential to be a productive receiver for them.

Houston Texans – Justin Reid – Safety – Stanford – Drafted: 3rd Round

The Houston Texans didn’t even have a pick until round 3, but they certainly got good value out of their first selection. Justin Reid is one of the most talented safeties in the entire draft as he has terrific speed and athleticism. He should have gone early in the 2nd round, but instead he fell an entire round right into the Texans spot. Reid can be an impact player right away and he fills a big need for the Texans.

Indianapolis Colts – Deon Cain – Wide Receiver – Clemson – Drafted: 6th Round

The Colts made a few good picks, but I chose this pick because it is the best value pick that they made in the draft. Deon Cain is an explosive receiver as proven by his 4.43 showing in the 40-yard dash at the combine. Cain is one of the best vertical threats in the entire draft and he should be able to make an impact right away. The Colts needed some receiver help and this guy just adds another weapon for quarterback Andrew Luck in the passing game. Cain was supposed to be a 4th round pick and I’m not quite sure why he fell so far, but he is a talented receiver that shouldn’t have even made it to the 6th round.

Jacksonville Jaguars – Ronnie Harrison – Safety – Alabama – Drafted: 3rd Round

Ronnie Harrison was supposed to be an early 2nd round pick, but he instead fell all the way late into the 3rd round. Harrison won’t likely be a starter right away, but he adds some quality depth to the Jaguars secondary. Harrison has the potential to be a starter in the NFL at some point, but Jacksonville is stacked with talent in the secondary so it might not be for awhile. Either way, Jacksonville got tremendous value with this pick and it just strengthens what was an already good defense.

Kansas City Chiefs – Derrick Nnadi – Defensive Tackle – Florida State – Drafted: 3rd Round

Dontari Poe didn’t make too much of a difference at defensive tackle for the Chiefs last season and the team had to fill his spot after he left in free agency. Derrick Nnadi has a chance to fill that void right away as he is a terrific run defender. That is important since Kansas City has struggled against the run in recent years. Nnadi can make an impact right away as a rotational player or he can even be a starter early on. Nnadi is a really talented player and he fills a big need for Kansas City.

Los Angeles Chargers – Derwin James – Safety – Florida State – Drafted: 1st Round

The Los Angeles Chargers already had a very talented defense, but safety was one of the spots where they could really use an upgrade. Not only did they fill that void, but they did it by drafting a high impact player in the 1st round. Derwin James is a top 10 talent for sure and he somehow fell all the way to the Chargers with the 17th overall pick. The Chargers got tremendous value with this pick and they are getting a player that can make an impact right away.

Los Angeles Rams – Obo Okoronkwo – Outside Linebacker – Oklahoma – Drafted: 5th Round

The Rams already have a talented defense, but the linebacker position is where the Rams could improve at. That is exactly what they did in the 5th round of the draft by selecting Obo Okoronkwo in the 5th round. He is a 3rd round talent, but for some reason he fell into the 5th round probably because scouts view him as undersized. However, Okoronkwo was very productive in college and he will at least provide the Rams a very good backup linebacker. It is even possible that he could challenge for a starting role right away, so the Rams are likely getting a steal with this pick.

Miami Dolphins – Kalen Ballage – Running Back – Arizona State – Drafted: 4th Round

Miami already added some much needed running back depth in free agency by signing Farnk Gore. However, Gore is getting old and Kenyan Drake is still unproven as the number 1 running back for Miami. Kalen Ballage will give the Dolphins some more depth at running back. He didn’t have much production during college, but he has all of the physical traits of an NFL running back. He has good size, speed, and pass-catching ability which will allow him to have at least some role in the Dolphins offense early on. Ballage probably won’t be a starter for awhile, but he is a talented running back that will take some of the pressure off of Kenyan Drake.

Minnesota Vikings – Mike Hughes – Cornerback – UCF – Drafted: 1st Round

The secondary was already a huge strength for the Vikings last season as Xavier Rhodes proved that he is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. However, the other cornerbacks on the roster were inconsistent. Trae Waynes has been good at times, but he is rather inconsistent and Terence Newman is highly likely to retire after this season. Mike Hughes is a terrific pick because he is a talented cornerback that has terrific speed to go with a good physical style of play. However, is a perfect fit for the Vikings since he won’t be asked to start right away, but he figures to be a starter for Minnesota for a long time.

New England Patriots – Sony Michel – Running Back – Georgia – Drafted: 1st Round

Sony Michel might be the most dynamic running back in this entire draft class as he has terrific speed and he is a tremendous pass-catcher as well. Michel is basically the definition of a 3-down running back, which is a very difficult type of player to find these days. The Patriots needed a running back after the departure of Dion Lewis and Michel figures to be an upgrade over what New England had last season. Michel fits the Patriots perfectly and he just adds another dynamic playmaker to help take the pressure off of Tom Brady.

New Orleans Saints – Natrell Jamerson – Safety – Wisconsin – Drafted: 5th Round

The late rounds are often where teams find players that can make an impact on special teams and that is exactly what the Saints found when they selected Natrell Jamerson in the 5th round. Jamerson probably won’t make much of an impact at safety, but he is an outstanding special teams player that gives New Orleans much more versatility. He is good on special teams coverage, yet he also is a dynamic kick returner. Jamerson provides some more depth at safety, but this is a good pick because the Saints can use him in a variety of ways.

New York Giants – Saquon Barkley – Running Back – Penn State – Drafted: 1st Round

Saquon Barkley is likely the best player in the NFL draft and he fills a huge need for the Giants as they have struggled tremendously to run the ball in recent years. It would be shocking if Barkley doesn’t come in and make a huge impact for the Giants right away as he has good size and tremendous breakaway speed. Barkley will not only improve the running game, but the most important thing is that he’ll take a lot of pressure off of Eli Manning. Barkley will help New York win right away and he adds another dynamic playmaker to the Giants offense.

New York Jets – Sam Darnold – Quarterback – USC – Drafted: 1st Round

The New York Jets already had 4 quarterbacks on their roster, but the problem is that none of them are the quarterback of the future. Sam Darnold is arguably the best quarterback in the draft and he is a terrific pocket passer. The only real concern about Darnold is that he turns the ball over too often, but if he can correct that then the Jets could be getting a pro-bowl quarterback.

Oakland Raiders – Maurice Hurst – Defensive Tackle – Michigan – Drafted: 5th Round

Hurst was one of the best defensive tackles in this draft and he is arguably a 1st round talent. However, he unfortunately he fell all the way to the 5th round because of a heart issue that was a major concern for teams. If Hurst’s health issue can be dealt with, then there is no question that the Raiders are getting terrific value with this pick. Hurst will be an upgrade at defensive tackle for Oakland and he can be a high impact player as long as he can stay healthy.

Philadelphia Eagles – Josh Sweat – Defensive End – Florida State – Drafted: 4th Round

The Eagles already had an extremely deep defensive line, which was one of the main reasons that they won the super bowl this past season. However, they are adding more depth to the position by selecting former Florida State defensive end Josh Sweat in the 4th round. It is a tremendous value pick for the Eagles since he is a 1st or 2nd round talent, but he fell so far because of injury concerns. Don’t expect Sweat to make much of an impact right away. However, he has the potential to be a starter for the Eagles at defensive end in a few years.

Pittsburgh Steelers – Mason Rudolph – Quarterback – Oklahoma State – Drafted: 3rd Round

This pick might not be liked by current starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but the Steelers needed to find the long-term solution at quarterback for when Roethlisberger retires. Roethlisberger is 36 years old and he has seriously considered retirement in recent years, but the issue is that the Steelers didn’t have a plan if he were to suddenly retire. Mason Rudolph is one of the best quarterbacks in this draft and it is kind of surprising that he fell so far since he is clearly a 2nd round talent. Rudolph won’t make an impact right away since Roethlisberger is clearly going to be the starter. However, Rudolph now has a chance to develop at the NFL level and possibly become the starting quarterback for Pittsburgh in a few years. We’ll see if Rudolph can become the future starter at quarterback for the Steelers, but he at least gives the team a solid backup at the position.

San Francisco 49ers – Mike McGlinchey – Offensive Tackle – Notre Dame – Drafted: 1st Round

Mike McGlinchey wasn’t really a value pick for the 49ers, but it was a very good pick for the team nonetheless. The 49ers have their franchise quarterback with Jimmy Garoppolo, but it was important for them to be able to surround him with quality talent on offense. McGlinchey is a big addition for the 49ers as he can make an impact right away as the starting right tackle. However, McGlinchey also adds tons of value long-term for San Francisco as he is expected to take over the starting left tackle role once Joe Staley retires. McGlinchey is arguably the best offensive tackle in this draft and he is a player that will help the 49ers immediately and for many years to come.

Seattle Seahawks – Shaquem Griffin – Outside Linebacker – UCF – Drafted: 5th Round

This is definitely my favorite pick of the entire NFL draft, mostly because Griffin is such an inspirational story. Griffin has been doubted his entire life, but all he has done is prove everyone wrong. Many people think that he will be limited in the NFL, but he proved during college that he can be a dynamic playmaker. He might be undersized which is likely why he fell to the 5th round. However, he can make an impact on special teams right away and he likely can make an impact at outside linebacker if given the opportunity. This is the perfect situation for Shaquem Griffin to be in since he gets to play with his brother and he once again will be out to prove that he is a solid football player.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Ronald Jones – Running Back – USC – Drafted: 2nd Round

Running back was arguably the biggest need for the Buccaneers this offseason as it really held the offense back last season. Doug Martin was absolutely terrible as the starter for the Bucs last season and he was ultimately released by the team. Tampa Bay does have Peyton Barber who has become a productive running back in the NFL. However, it was clear that Tampa Bay needed a new starter and that is why they selected Ronald Jones in the 2nd round. Jones had a terrific college career at USC and he has tremendous speed to be able to make big plays. Jones might not be the starter right away, but he is the type of player that can give a major boost to Tampa Bay’s running game and take a lot of pressure off quarterback Jameis Winston.

Tennessee Titans – Luke Falk – Quarterback – Washington State – Drafted: 6th Round

Marcus Mariota is clearly the starter at quarterback for the Titans and he likely will be for a long time. However, the Titans haven’t really had a good backup quarterback in several years. Luke Falk should solve that issue as he has the potential to be a very good backup quarterback. Falk put up extremely impressive numbers at Washington State and what particularly stands out is that he only threw 39 interceptions compared to 119 career touchdowns. Falk is an NFL-ready quarterback and he provides much needed depth at the quarterback position right away for Tennessee. It is shocking that Falk fell this far in the draft as he is clearly a 3rd round talent. However, if he is given the opportunity then he could potentially develop into an NFL starting quarterback one day.

Washington Redskins – Derrius Guice – Running Back – LSU – Drafted: 2nd Round

The Redskins already had plenty of depth at the running back position, but the issue is that they didn’t have an established starter at the position. Derrius Guice fixes that issue as he is clearly projected to be the starter very soon for the Redskins. Guice has tremendous power, but he also has very good speed for his size as well. Guice could’ve been a 1st round talent, but he fell all the way late into the 2nd round because of character issues. If he can get his attitude in check, then there is no doubt that the Redskins are getting a very talented early-down running back.

3 Winners in Free Agency

3. Los Angeles Rams

The Rams were already were a playoff team last season and they have an extremely bright future ahead of them. The Rams appear to be an even better team than they were last season as they have made several huge moves this offseason. They lost starting cornerback Trumaine Johnson in free agency, but they managed to replace him quite well with the additions of Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters. Los Angeles should have an even better secondary than they had last season and it has the potential to be dominant. Also, the Rams improved an already good defensive line by signing pro-bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Pairing him with Aaron Donald at defensive tackle will most likely create the best defensive tackle duo in the NFL. The Rams already had a good defense, but with these additions it has the potential to be outstanding. Meanwhile, the Rams also added a major weapon on offense by acquiring speedy wide receiver Brandin Cooks from the Patriots. The Rams did lose Sammy Watkins in free agency, although Cooks is almost certainly an upgrade at wide receiver. Los Angeles already had a good team on both sides of the ball, but now they are legitimate super bowl contenders in 2018.

2. San Francisco 49ers

The NFC West is certainly in transition right now as the Cardinals and Seahawks are entering rebuilds. Meanwhile, San Francisco is a team on the rise in the NFC West and it is possible that they could make the playoffs this season. San Francisco signed franchise QB Jimmy Garoppolo to a huge contract extension this offseason. However, the 49ers made their roster stronger especially with the addition of all-pro cornerback Richard Sherman. He is undoubtedly one of the best cornerbacks in the game and he will improve a 49ers secondary that was one of the worst in the NFL last season. Also, the 49ers improved their offensive line by signing center Weston Richburg in free agency. The 49ers even found a new starter at running back as they signed Jerick McKinnon to replace Carlos Hyde who left in free agency. We’ll see if these moves make a big difference, but the 49ers are certainly trending in the right direction. San Francisco still has some work to do in order to complete their roster, yet these moves could make them a playoff team this year.

1. Cleveland Browns

Give credit to the Browns for finally beginning to trend in the right direction, but they are finally proving that they will be ready to be a contender in a couple of years. The major move that the Browns made was acquiring quarterback Tyrod Taylor from the Bills. Taylor is a decent starting quarterback and he is a much better option than what Cleveland had at the position last season. Taylor probably isn’t the long-term answer for Cleveland, but he is a good temporary solution in order to make the team much more competitive right away. Also, the Browns added some much needed weapons on offense at the skill positions specifically by acquiring elite wide receiver Jarvis Landry. If Josh Gordon can stay productive and Landry stays healthy then the Browns could have a terrific wide receiver duo. Also, the Browns found an upgrade at running back by signing Carlos Hyde as he can be a productive player even as a pass catcher as long as he stays healthy. Cleveland did lose franchise left tackle Joe Thomas this offseason, but they did add Chris Hubbard to take his place so the void shouldn’t be felt too much. Cleveland didn’t do too much to improve their defense, but they did add Damarious Randall who could be a starting cornerback for them right away. The Browns aren’t going to be a playoff team next season, but at least this is a team that won’t be the joke of the league anymore. Also, the Browns still have plenty of draft picks this year and in the future, so it is very possible that they could make a quick turnaround very soon.

Browns sign Hubbard to a 5-year/$37.5 million deal

The Cleveland Browns once again are making big moves to try and make their team more competitive as they signed former Steelers offensive tackle Chris Hubbard to a 5-year/$37.5 million deal. Hubbard has been a backup for most of his career, but he has some starting experience as he made 14 starts for Pittsburgh the past 2 seasons. He can play the guard position if he needs to, but he will likely be an upgrade at the right tackle position for Cleveland. Hubbard played really well last season for Pittsburgh as he started 10 games for the injured Marcus Gilbert at right tackle. However, Hubbard played very well which is why he is receiving such a lucrative contract in free agency. We’ll see how well Hubbard plays now that he is a full-time starter for the first time in his career, but if he plays like he did last season then he will be worth the price.

Grade: B-

chris hubbard

Browns sign Chris Smith to a 3-year deal

The Cleveland Browns added to their defensive line depth early in free agency as they signed former Bengals defensive end Chris Smith to a 3-year/$14 million contract. Smith was finally able to be a key rotational player for Cincinnati last season and he performed well with 26 tackles and 3 sacks. There is no chance that he will compete for a starting defensive end job with the Browns this year as they have Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah at those spots. However, Smith is a good addition as a backup defensive end as he has proven that he can be a good pass rusher if given the opportunity. The Browns are quickly becoming a more competitive team and this addition will help move the team in the right direction. Smith likely won’t make a big impact for Cleveland, but he at least provides much better depth than what the Browns had at defensive end.

Grade: B

chris smith

Browns trade Shelton to the Patriots

The Cleveland Browns are giving up on defensive tackle Danny Shelton already as they traded him and a 2018 5th round pick to the Patriots in exchange for a 2019 3rd round pick.

 

Browns analysis/grade:

Danny Shelton resembles yet another failed 1st round pick that was made by previous Browns front office executives. He was a decent starting defensive tackle and he was a good run-stopper for Cleveland. However, he had a down year in 2017 and he barely provided any pass rush help to Cleveland as he only had 1.5 sacks during his 3 years with the team. Shelton wasn’t really a good fit for Cleveland and give new GM John Dorsey credit by just admitting that the team made a mistake by drafting him and acquiring at least a respectable draft pick in return. This trade could make the Browns better long-term, but it remains to be seen if this trade is worth it for Cleveland.

Grade: C+

 

Patriots analysis/grade:

This trade makes sense for the Patriots as they are acquiring a young defensive tackle with tons of potential and it helps fill a need for the team as well. Shelton is a good run-stopping defensive tackle and he has proven that he can be a decent starter. He hasn’t quite lived up to his potential since he was a 1st round pick just a few years ago. However, if there is a team that can develop him and help him to succed then it would definitely be the Patriots. New England already has a good defensive tackle with Malcolm Brown, but they had a big need for a 2nd starter at defensive tackle especially with the departures of Alan Branch and Ricky Jean Francois. The Patriots are taking a risk by giving up a 3rd round pick in this deal, although it remains to be seen if the team got better value by acquiring Shelton.

Grade: B-

danny shelton

Browns acquire Landry from the Dolphins

The Cleveland Browns made a major move on Friday as they acquired pro-bowl wide receiver Jarvis Landry from the Miami Dolphins in exchange for a 2018 4th round pick and a 2019 7th round pick.

 

Browns analysis/grade:

This trade shows that the Browns are at least attempting to end their really long rebuilding process. Jarvis Landry is an elite wide receiver who led the NFL in receptions last season, so he will add a much needed threat to the Browns offense. Cleveland didn’t have a reliable quarterback last season and that was a major issue for the team last season. However, the Browns also had a major issue at the wide receiver position as well since Kenny Britt was a major bust in free agency and he was released late last season. Also, former 1st round pick Corey Coleman has struggled with injuries early in his career and he hasn’t been productive when he has been healthy. Landry is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL and he will give the team the reliable number 1 receiver that they were missing last season. Also, if Josh Gordon can stay out of trouble and live up to his potential then Cleveland could possibly have been one of the best wide receiver duos in the NFL. The Browns are now better in the short-term and in the long-term as well if they can sign Landry to a long-term contract. Also, Cleveland only gave up a 4th round pick and a 7th round pick which will likely only have a minimal impact on their future. This is a terrific trade for Cleveland it is a major step in the right direction to making this franchise competitive once again.

Grade: A

 

Dolphins analysis/grade:

The Miami Dolphins at least made sure that they didn’t lose Jarvis Landry for nothing in free agency. However, they still didn’t get much in return for the guy who was by far their best player on offense. The Dolphins only get a 4th round pick in this year’s draft and a 7th round pick that probably won’t amount to anything in next year’s draft. Miami now will be hoping that DeVante Parker can be the number 1 guy in the passing game, although he hasn’t lived up to his potential so far in his career. Either way, Landry’s departure will create a major void at the wide receiver position for Miami and it is one that they must fill this offseason either in free agency or the draft. It will be very difficult for the Dolphins to fill the void after they traded away Landry and the return that they got won’t likely have much of an impact in the short-term or long-term. At least Miami didn’t lose Landry in free agency for nothing, but it still isn’t worth getting rid of their star player in return for low-level draft picks.

Grade: C-

jarvis landry