Can the Cleveland Browns rule the AFC in 2021?

John Johnson #43. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
John Johnson #43. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

Every Cleveland Browns fan felt like they were in a dream this past season, but the great part about it is they don’t need to wake up from it. This dream is nothing short of a reality, and is only getting better. The biggest dream of all, the Browns representing the AFC in the Super Bowl, may be closer than we all think.

Winning 11 games and beating the division rival, Pittsburgh Steelers, in the Divisional Round of the playoffs was simply not enough for Browns general manager Andrew Berry. He has made that more than clear this offseason. This was shown through key defensive free agent signings such as safety John Johnson III, cornerback Troy Hill, defensive end Takkarist McKinley, linebacker Anthony Walker, and defensive tackle Malik Jackson.

To put it lightly, the Browns defense was holding the rest of the team back last year, and Berry is not going to let that happen again. Cleveland’s secondary has the potential to instantly go from worst to first with the addition of free agents John Johnson III and Troy Hill. These players were two key parts to the No. 1 ranked secondary in the league last year with the Los Angeles Rams. This paired with the long-awaited return of cornerback Greedy Williams and the debut of safety Grant Delpit should put fear into opposing quarterbacks and offensive coordinators.

These free agent signings aren’t going to magically make the Browns the best team in the AFC, young veterans need to step up as well. Players like linebackers Mack Wilson and Sione Takitaki have shown flashes of potential, but lack the consistent impact. The addition of highly intelligent linebacker Anthony Walker should help to elevate the mental aspect of Wilson’s and Takitaki’s game. If they can turn those flashes of potential into consistent playmaking, the Browns defense can find themselves ranked with some of the best in the league.

Everything seems to be going in the Browns favor as of late. Multiple AFC powerhouses were hit with big-name losses. The Pittsburgh Steelers lost key players like Bud Dupree and Maurkice Pouncey. The Kanas City Chiefs lost multiple starting offensive lineman. The Baltimore Ravens lost pro bowl defensive end Matt Judon, and have yet to make any impactful free agency signings. Additionally, the Tennessee Titans lost wide receiver Corey Davis and cornerback Malcolm Butler.

You could make a strong case that the Cleveland Browns have never been set up for more success than right now. Quarterback Baker Mayfield has the talent at his disposal and a chip on his shoulder. The Offensive side of the ball is one of the most talented in the league.

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The defense has seen tremendous improvement within the roster. And Head Coach Kevin Stefanski’s “never satisfied” mindset is contagious. This team is hungry, and the only thing that can hold this team back is themselves.