Browns stock up, Stock down following playoff loss

David Njoku had a breakout year in 2023, setting career highs in catches, receiving yards, and touchdowns. Discover why he is a key receiving weapon for the Browns.

Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns / Michael Owens/GettyImages
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Stock up: WR Amari Cooper

Since being traded for a fifth-round pick, Amari Cooper has been everything Cleveland thought he would be. He’s the first Browns player to record back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons, topped his season best for receiving yards, and set the franchise record for most receiving yards in a game.

What most don’t know is that despite only missing two games the past two years, Cooper has been dealing with injury after injury. Watching the tape you can see him clearly in pain with the way he runs, but that never hindered his production. Many gasped on the third drive of the game as Cooper fell awkwardly after the 14-yard catch.

After the play, he did head to the sidelines but finished the game catching four out of five targets for 59 yards. He also had the most snaps by any Browns receiver/tight end and was tied for the most first downs of the group. If this season taught us anything about the Browns receiving targets, it was that after Cooper and Njoku, there was a giant drop in production and consistency. The Browns will need another fantastic year from Cooper in 2024 because he is their true WR1. 

Stock down- Safety Juan Thornhill 

When Juan Thornhill was acquired in free agency back in March, Cleveland thought they found the free safety they had been searching for. He was a starter on the Kansas City Chiefs fresh off a Super Bowl win and it was thought he could provide playoff experience and leadership to this team.

In his first year wearing the orange and brown though, Thornhill has been underwhelming. He missed six games this season and even when he returned, his production was at the bottom of all the starters in the Browns secondary in almost every category. He had the highest passer rating when targeted, the least amount of defensive stops, the least amount of pass breakups, and the least amount of turnovers caused.

This is even more alarming considering players like Grant Delpit and Denzel Ward missed a similar amount of games. Thornhill’s underwhelming play continued into the playoff game as he had missed two tackles, one of them resulting in a big touchdown for the Texans.

Thornhill wasn’t the only defensive player to have a bad game, but he was brought into this team for his playoff experience. He was looked at as a leader in that locker room and when his expertise was needed the most, he underperformed. He is currently under contract for the next two seasons so he does have time to redeem himself.  

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