Cleveland Browns: Where the team must improve the most in 2018
By Shane Carter
There are three quarterbacks linked the most to the Browns: Kirk Cousins, a free agent from the Washington Redskins, Sam Darnold of USC and Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma. Some may be surprised by Josh Rosen’s name being absent. However, the former UCLA quarterback has made his feelings about being a Brown pretty clear.
The idea of Cousins has a lot of upside. Instead of depending on a rookie to hopefully develop, the Browns bring in a Pro Bowl quarterback with multiple seasons of 4,000-plus-yards.
Not only could Dorsey afford to sign Cousins after Jimmy Garoppolo reset the market for quarterbacks in San Francisco, but it would mean the team can spend their draft picks on other needs. (Penn State running back Saquon Barkley anyone?)
However, in the instance of taking either Darnold or Mayfield, both of whom expressed the desire to be the Cleveland savior, it means the Browns should probably still sign a veteran to help develop the rookie and not force him into action too soon. Think of someone like Josh McCown of the New York Jets or Sam Bradford of the Minnesota Vikings.
To simplify it: signing Cousins means the Browns should not draft a quarterback. Drafting a quarterback means the Browns should sign a veteran bridge quarterback.
It doesn’t look like Isaiah Crowell is the future of the Cleveland Browns backfield, and while Duke Johnson was arguably the Browns best offensive player last year, he might be better suited in his current role as a third-down back and slot player.
The easy, and very likely answer, is Penn State’s Saquon Barkely. He’s already getting plenty of love among draft experts with some even thinking he could go No. 1 overall. It may be unusual for a running back to go at the top of the draft, but if previous drafts have revealed anything, it’s that when Cleveland has two first-round picks, they’ll go best player available before they draft a quarterback.
If the team believes this is the only way to secure Barkley, and that he won’t last until the No. 4 overall selection, he might be worth it.
The rumors of Terrelle Pryor returning to Cleveland in free agency would make a theoretical starting wide receiver pair of Josh Gordon and Pryor, with Corey Coleman pulling a Nelson Agholor and reviving his career by switching to slot.
Even though that is a good set on paper, the team still needs depth and play makers at the receiver position because of the player questions.
Related: Browns would be daft to move on from Corey Coleman
Can Gordon stay clean? Can Coleman stay healthy? Can Pryor return to his breakout season form of 2016, or was he a one-season wonder?
Related: Browns should take a pass on Terrelle Pryor
The second or third round would be great place to look at the position. With the first-round picks likely to be a quarterback and Barkley or a defensive back, the Browns can use one of their three second-rounders on a receiver.
D.J. Moore, Christian Kirk and James Washington are all names that could land in the Browns laps if they decide to use a second-round pick on a playmaking receiver. Which they should.