Cleveland Browns: Where the team must improve the most in 2018
By Shane Carter
Briean Boddy-Calhoun has been a great slot corner, and Jason McCourtey proved to be a capable starter and had a great season. However, with the decline in play by Jamar Taylor and the injury to rookie Howard Wilson, the Browns were forced to put practice squad level players on the field.
More from Dawg Pound Daily
- 2023 NFL Mock Draft: Browns make surprise move for left tackle
- Browns: David Bell was excellent against man coverage as a rookie
- Former Browns wideout Josh Gordon shines in XFL debut
- Cleveland Browns: 3 Running backs who can replace Kareem Hunt
- Cleveland Browns lose QB Coach Drew Petzing
In short, the team lacks a true No. 1 cornerback. There are several ways they can remedy the situation.
Free agency could not only answer the quarterback spot if the Browns sign Kirk Cousins, but the team could also sign one of the better cornerbacks in free agency to a large deal as well. Trumaine Johnson of the Los Angeles Rams and Malcolm Butler of the New England Patriots are this year’s top players in free agency at the position.
Related: Browns should make a play for Marcus Peters
Johnson appears content and could likely stay with the Rams. Butler, however, was scorned after only playing one play (on special teams) in the Super Bowl and will probably demand maximum money. The Patriots have a history of letting quality players go elsewhere, and the Browns could land Butler by offering him more money than anyone else.
It’s possible a trade could happen instead. A rumor has circulated that the Kansas City Chiefs could trade Pro Bowl cornerback, Marcus Peters. Ironically, the general manager who took a chance on Peters to begin with is now the general manager of the Browns. Coincidence?
Even if either of these players were to end up in Cleveland, the Browns should still grab a corner with one of their first six picks in the draft. Players like Colorado’s Isaiah Oliver, Auburn’s Carlton Davis or Louisville’s Jaire Alexander would be great picks in value for the Browns.
This year isn’t the best for the position. The best safety in free agency is Eric Reid of the San Francisco 49ers, but he plays strong safety. With Jabrill Peppers, who will be a competent player at the position, the free safety starting job needs an upgrade.
Once again, the quarterback position could affect who the player is. If the Browns sign Cousins in free agency, the first- and fourth-overall picks could become Penn State running back Saquon Barkley and Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, the draft’s top free safety prospect.
Even if the team has to use one of its picks on a quarterback, the Browns are positioned in the second round to still grab a quality player at the position like Stanford’s Justin Reid, Penn State’s Marcus Allen, Pittsburgh’s Jordan Whitehead or Texas A&M’s Armani Watts. Any of which could pair nicely with Peppers in the back of the secondary.
Quarterback, running back, wide receiver, cornerback and free safety. These are the five biggest glaring holes on the team.
Next: Browns should draft two quarterbacks
The team has the draft capital and the cap room to fill the holes and then some. The old Cleveland Browns might have ignored these holes for a different time.
Whether it was not being aggressive in free agency or making dumb moves in the draft, those Browns need to be a thing of the past. If the team wants to no longer be the laughing stock of the NFL, it’s time for things to change. The team has the tools, now they must use them.