Optimism surrounds the Cleveland #Browns for the first time in nearly a decade as the team heads into 2019. While players like Baker Mayfield, Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward and Nick Chubb, among others, give Cleveland a strong nucleus, general manager John Dorsey still has to fill out his roster.
Dorsey attacked 2018's free agency, trade market and draft class swiftly, pulling off three separate trades to kick off the new league year. He subsequently drafted Mayfield and Ward in the top five of the 2018 NFL Draft and added Chubb in the second round. 2019 may be a bit more subtle, but the positions he must fill are critical for the team's continued progression.
A position that really crippled the Browns last season was linebacker. Injuries to starters Joe Schobert and Christian Kirksey plummeted the defense to near the bottom of the league against the run and a lackadaisical effort by Jamie Collins didn't help the situation. Collins will most likely be released, saving the Browns millions in salary cap space, but that leaves a major hole with nobody currently on the roster to fill it.
Kirksey may also be on the way out as a full-time starter, as his impact seems to be less and less each season. There are quality free agents and potential draft picks, along with the possibility of moving tweener Genard Avery to linebacker on a full-time basis. Dorsey will likely treat the position as a major priority.
Sticking with the front seven, defensive end and defensive tackle may both be addressed and this free agency/draft class is stacked at both positions. This may be the most top heavy defensive line draft in decades and there are multiple double-digit sack artists set to hit free agency as well. Free agents like Frank Clark, Dee Ford, Trey Flowers and Jadeveon Clowney would each make a strong addition across from Myles Garrett and college players like Ed Oliver, Rashan Gary and Jeffery Simmons fit as inside penetrators.
Offensively, wide receiver and right tackle are the only obvious needs. Unfortunately, there is a dearth of talent in the free agency pool for both positions. The draft is a different story, however, as this is a very deep class at wide receiver and the Browns have their pick between many different skill-sets. Offensive tackle is deep as well, but Chris Hubbard did improve over the second half of 2018 and Dorsey may decide to stick with him for another year.
With the Browns seemingly on the cusp of contending for a playoff spot, all eyes will be on John Dorsey as he heads into his second full season as the captain of the ship in Cleveland.
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