Cleveland Browns: 5 long-term steps to AFC North contention
Though this season may be the worst in team history, it is unique in that the Browns have a clear direction. Many fans are now starting to truly believe that rookie quarterback Cody Kessler can lead a team to contention, if that team has solid pieces all around.
Therefore, if Cleveland is going to stop starting over, and they’re going to go with Kessler and Jackson long-term, they must build around their shell of young players through the draft. More specifically, they ought to follow the model of the Dallas Cowboys, a team who selected offensive linemen in the first round of the draft in 2011, 2013, and 2014.
Clearly, the Browns must improve on the offensive line, and can do this through upcoming NFL drafts. In the Cowboys’ situation, everything fell into place after they established their line, similar to what could happen in Cleveland. With an offensive-minded head coach, this area is most important if the Browns want to give their position players a chance to develop.
With a lot of draft picks coming, Cleveland must also emphasize the need to solidify their defense. More draft picks like Emmanuel Ogbah and Carl Nassib would be welcomed over the next two years. Selections such as these would make the Browns’ defense more of a force to be reckoned with, alleviating some of the pressure from Jackson, Kessler, and the offense.
Building through the draft is easier said than done as Browns fans can attest to, but it is completely necessary. Cleveland can’t afford to make big splashes in free agency, especially when they don’t have much of a team to make any one addition worthwhile. This is why building through the draft under stable ownership and an established coaching staff and quarterback is the next step to winning the AFC North in 2019.