John Dorsey’s roadmap to success may signal draft, free agency plans
By Thomas Moore
Cleveland Browns general manager John Dorsey has a clear idea of what a winning team looks like. Does that signal his plans for the draft and free agency?
Cleveland Browns general manager John Dorsey has the world at his fingertips this offseason.
Armed with a dozen draft picks and somewhere around $110 million in available cap space, Dorsey is reaping the benefits of a rebuilding plan set in motion two years ago, one that always intended to lay a foundation and then capitalize on the accumulated assets in 2018.
If Dorsey plays his cards right in the coming weeks, he can secure a productive free agency period and enjoy a franchise-altering draft that will set the Browns up for a long-overdue return to prominence in the NFL.
With free agency just a little more than a week away, it is a good time to take a look at Dorsey’s philosophy on what positions are vital to a winning organization.
Dorsey spoke last week at the annual NFL Scouting Combine and, according to clevelandbrowns.com, has five positions that he believes are directly linked to success: quarterback, pass rusher, cornerback, left tackle and wide receiver.
First off, we should note that running back is nowhere to be found on that list. So it may be a good idea to hold off on ordering that Saquon Barkley No. 1 jersey, Browns fans.
Quarterback, however, is at the top of the list, which should be good news for a franchise that has been searching for competent quarterback play since 1993.
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With the Browns reportedly out of the running for free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins, if there were ever in it in the first place, which is doubtful, that points to the team selecting a quarterback with the No. 1 overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft. Who that quarterback is remains to be seen, of course, but it should come down to Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, USC’s Sam Darnold or UCLA’s Josh Rosen.
Pass rusher and cornerback are on the list as well, which means that Dorsey may have a hard decision ahead of him if both Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick and North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb are both still on the board when the Browns select at No. 4. It is likely that one, if not both, will still be there and both players can make a major impact on the Browns defense.
The Browns may also take a hard look at Trumaine Johnson of the Los Angeles Rams and Malcolm Butler of the New England Patriots in free agency.
Even if he hadn’t mentioned left tackle, Dorsey would be on the lookout for one as the future of left tackle Joe Thomas remains in question. Even if Thomas returns for another season, the end of his career is coming sooner rather than later, so the Browns need to start working on his replacement now.
As for the wide receivers, while the Browns are banking on Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman to be available for a full 16 games, they are going to need some help. That could come from such players as Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk, Oklahoma State’s Marcell Ateman or Maryland’s D.J. Moore.
None of this is set in stone, of course, and just because Dorsey prefers certain positions does not mean the Browns are lock to select or sign players at those positions.
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But if Browns fans are trying to decipher what the team will do in the coming weeks, they could do worse than look at the roadmap the team’s general manager has laid out for them.