Prior to the 2018 NFL season, the Cleveland Browns had won just four games in three years as mistakes on and off the gridiron quickly helped them become the laughing stocks, not just of the National Football League, but professional sport in the United States.
Things all changed last season though, as they had their best season since 2007, finishing the regular campaign with a 7-8-1 record, narrowly missing out on a wild-card spot in the play-offs. Their savior came in the form of Baker Mayfield. A quarterback who many will find cocky and arrogant. Whatever you think of the Oklahoma QB though, it is his performances on the pitch which matter and so far he has done a pretty good job.
There was a lot of pressure on the Browns to get their first overall pick right in the 2018 NFL Draft. Cleveland had wasted a lot of their high-end draft picks in the past, the most notable being their mistake with quarterback Johnny Manziel, known to many as Johnny Football. The Browns ignored the advice of many college football experts and instead decided to take a gamble on the Heisman Trophy winner and unfortunately for them, it all went wrong pretty quickly.
Mayfield will be hoping to build upon his second season in the NFL. In many ways, he is not going to have many of the luxuries rookies QBs have in their favor. Coaches have now seen him in the league and will have all the tapes they need to try and come up with a plan to stop him.
Odell Beckham Jr Adds The X Factor Into Cleveland
The biggest moment in the off-season this year was when the news broke that the Cleveland Browns had traded for Odell Beckham Jr from the New York Giants. Many people felt like it was an April Fool’s joke which had been scheduled in too early. It was no joke though, and it sent out a message to the rest of the league that the Browns mean business in 2019.
Mayfield now has one of the best wide receivers in the NFL to throw to this season. Beckham Jr is in a league of his own when it comes to playmaking ability. His one-handed catch as a rookie for the Giants is a fine example of that.
It is easy to see why many NFL punters are making the Browns as one of the leading NFL picks this year. Their roster is now packed on both sides of the ball. In offense, Mayfield and Beckham Jr are complemented by running back Kareem Hunt who joined from the Kansas City Chiefs, while the defense has lots of game-changers with Myles Garrett, Sheldon Richardson and Olivier Vernon.
For the first time many years, the Browns are expected to win their division as they are the favorites in the AFC North betting. What that does mean is, the pressure will be on their shoulders but if the Browns do get it right in 2019, it will be an incredible transformation from the joke franchise of the NFL to the one every other team is jealous of!