Quarterback: Cody Kessler
Let’s take a step back and relax a little when talking about second-round pick DeShone Kizer. Even Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly has said he wished Kizer had come back for another college season and that he was not ready yet for the NFL.
However you feel about the selection, the general consensus is that Kizer is not ready. The good news is that Cleveland has a reliable starter in second-year quarterback Cody Kessler, who last season posted a 65.6 completion percentage and a 92.3 passer rating. This next season will belong to Kessler as the starter going in.
Running back: Isaiah Crowell
Isaiah Crowell had a quietly solid season in 2016, posting 952 yards and seven touchdowns plus 40 receptions for 319 yards. Some believed that the Browns would spend a premium pick on a running back with the likes of Dalvin Cook or Joe Mixon available. However, the only pick the Browns used on the position was Matthew Dayes from North Carolina State in the seventh round.
This is a huge vote of confidence for Crowell – now he just needs to sign his second-round tender offer.
Expect Duke Johnson to get his fair share of rushes and catches out of the backfield to mix it up, but Crowell’s starting job is 100 percent secure.
Tight end: David Njoku; Seth DeValve
One of the more celebrated picks in the first round was Cleveland trading their way back into the first round for a third pick and selecting Miami’s David Njoku, a serious receiving threat at the tight end position.
To complement him is second-year receiver turned tight end Seth DeValve who, like Njoku, gives the Browns another athlete at the tight end position, along with the opportunity to run a deadly two-tight-end system similar to what New England runs. Look out AFC!
With Terrelle Pryor leaving for Washington in free agency, Corey Coleman, last year’s first-round selection, needs to step up this season. Last year Coleman missed time with an injury, finishing with 33 receptions 413 yards and three touchdowns. He’s going into the season as the team’s No. 1 receiver and needs to play like it.
Luckily, he’ll have some help.
Kenny Britt came over from the Los Angeles Rams in free agency on a four-year, $32.5 million contract to fill the hole left by Pryor. In 2016, Britt became the first Rams receiver since Torry Holt in 2007 to post a 1,000-yard season, posting 68 catches, 1,002 yards and five touchdowns.
Hopefully Britt can continue his success and Corey Coleman can live up to where he was drafted.