Need #1: Offensive Tackle

Notable Free Agents:

  • Greg Robinson (started 14 games at LT, quality of play was below-average, penalties were a big issue, arrest Feb. all but rules out a return) 

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Chris Hubbard (started 13 games at RT, quality of play was well-below average, will likely lose starting job in 2020) 
  • Kendall Lam (made 2 starts in 2019, but made 13 the year before in HOU, projects as a swing tackle in 2020) 

Need Level: Very High 

Need to Address:

  • The Browns desperately need to upgrade both left and right tackle. Poor OT play was arguably the number one reason behind the Brown's 2019 offensive woes. 

Updates:

  • Signed Jack Conklin (Pro Bowl-caliber RT in the prime of his career, he is a massive upgrade for the Browns) 
  • Drafted in 1st Round: Jedrick Wills (dominant RT for the Crimson Tide - shut down SEC edge rushers on a weekly basis, a very nimble athlete for someone his size, great foot and hand quickness, plays to the whistle and with a nasty streak, excels as both a run and pass blocker, blocks well downfield, tremendous blend of pure power and flexibility, only knock against him is slightly below average size/length for an OT - but that does not hold him back, expected to move to the left side in CLE) 

Need #2: Linebacker

Notable Free Agents: 

  • Joe Schobert (3-down LB, elite tackling production, functional in coverage, but at least partially to blame for Brown's horrendous run defense, you can't blame the front office if they don't meet his reported contract demands)

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Mack Wilson (2019 5th rounder, started 14 games - showed some promise but overall his rookie year was a mixed bag, he's got the talent to take a big step forward in 2020) 
  • Sione Takitaki (2019 3rd rounder, made 1 start as a rookie, mostly played special teams, was a rangy and versatile player at BYU, pressure will be on in 2020 after a low-production rookie year) 
  • Christian Kirksey (missed most of the 2019 season with an injury - was limited by injuries in 2018 as well, when healthy he racks up tackles and is a force vs the run, but coverage has often been a weak point) 

Need Level: High

Need to Address: 

  • The Browns will need to either resign or replace Schobert. They should also bring in competition for their young LBs (Wilson and Takitaki).

Updates:

  • Released Christian Kirksey 
  • Signed B.J. Goodson (reserve LB with a decent amount of starting experience) 
  • Drafted in 3rd Round: Jacob Phillips (key member of LSU's title-winning defense, strong production in 2019, tackles well, has nice size, and tested well at the Combine, but does not stand-out on tape, has questionable football instincts and underdeveloped coverage skills, he's got upside but will likely begin career as a special teamer) 

Need #3: Safety

Notable Free Agents:

  • Damarious Randall (versatile DB - can cover out of the slot, play centerfield and patrol the box, had an incongruent 2019 season - 0 INTs and was even benched at one point, but historically has been a playmaker) 
  • Eric Murray (only made 4 starts in 2019 - in large part due to injury, had a solid/unspectacular 2018 season, but has yet to establish himself as a must-start player, could be brought back to compete for starting safety spot / provide depth)
  • Juston Burris (showed some promise over 9 starts in 2019, did not necessarily stand-out - but was functional and showed improvement as the season wore on)

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Morgan Burnett (10-year veteran, started 8 games before landing on IR with a torn Achilles, he was a having solid season before the injury)
  • Sheldrick Redwine (2019 4th rounder, made 5 nondescript starts as a rookie, he was a solid college player and is a strong athlete - so a year 2 jump is a possibility) 

Need Level: High

Need to Address:

  • The Browns need to think about a long-term replacement for Burnett and bring on someone to compete with Redwine for the other starting job. 

Updates:

  • Released Morgan Burnett 
  • Signed Karl Joseph (former 1st round pick, was considered a bust from 2016 to 2017 - but revived his career with a strong 2018 season, he was playing even better in 2019 but landed on IR in November, he is prototypical box safety, $2.5 million on a one year deal is a great value for the Browns) 
  • Signed Andrew Sendejo (veteran backup and special teamer - not an ideal starter) 
  • Drafted in 2nd Round: Grant Delpit (had a phenomenal 2018 season - 9.5 TFLs, 5 sacks, 5 INTs, and 9 PBUs, was less productive in 2019 - but was still very effective and active, plays with ferocious energy in run support and has natural coverage instincts, will need to clean up some tackling issues, but he has legit game-changer potential, the Browns were able to get a bonafide 1st round prospect in the middle of the 2nd round - good for them) 
  • Season-ending Injury: Grant Delpit
  • Acquired via Trade: Ronnie Harrison (solid young player, good in run support, has some playmaking instincts, nice replacement for Delpit)

Need #4: Interior Offensive Line

Notable Free Agents:

  • None

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Joel Bitonio (top-class OG, has been the best OL on the team for a while now, made the Pro Bowl in 2018 and 2019, at 28 years old - he should be a mainstay for a while longer) 
  • J.C. Tretter (has started 48/48 games at center over the past 3 seasons, quality of play has mostly been above average) 
  • Wyatt Teller (made 9 starts at RG - did not play well, though the bleak RT situation made his job extra difficult) 
  • Drew Forbes (2019 6th rounder, impressed at RG in the preseason but an injury kept him away from regular-season action, he could factor into the starting conversation in 2020) 

Need Level: Moderate

Need to Address:

  • The Browns are set at LG (Biltonio) and C (Tretter) but need to upgrade the RG spot. 

Updates:

  • Drafted in 5th Round: Nick Harris (highly decorated and experienced center prospect, excellent short-area quickness, advanced technical skill, physically there are limitations - he lacks length and power - but plays with great effort and isn't the type to bet against, wouldn't be surprised to see him start in the NFL for a long time, a great value in round 5) 

Need #5: Wide Receiver

Notable Free Agents:

  • Rashard Higgins (coming off an odd season - missed games early with an injury - but was not given a role once healthy  - reportedly due to a falling out with previous HC Kitchens, finished the 2019 season with only 4 receptions, had shown playmaking ability in prior seasons) 

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Odell Beckham Jr. (one of the most talented WRs in football, played the 2019 season with core muscle injury - which resulted in underwhelming production, he's in the prime of his career at age 28 and should bounceback in a big way with a legitimate coaching staff now in place) 
  • Jarvis Landry (was fantastic in 2019 - recorded a career-high 1,174 receiving yards - despite playing through a hip injury, truly one of the top WR2s in football, signed through the 2022 season) 
  • Damion Ratley (2018 6th rounder, reserve WR, recorded a 12-200-1 line in 2019) 

Need Level: Moderate

Need to Address:

  • The Browns need to add depth behind Beckham Jr. and Landry. 

Updates:

  • Resigned Rashard Higgins 
  • Signed JoJo Natson (kick and punt returner, unlikely to see action as a WR) 
  • Drafted in 6th Round: Donovan Peoples-Jones (a top recruit coming out of high school - never lived up to lofty expectations at Michigan, ran a nice 40 but had separation issues on tape, college production was mediocre - never recorded more than 47 receptions in a season, could be a nice fit in the slot, excellent size/length, perhaps the Browns will get more out of him than Michigan was able to) 

Need #6: Defensive Tackle

Notable Free Agents:

  • None

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Larry Ogunjobi (2017 3rd rounder, solid - overlooked young player, 5.5 sacks in each of the last two seasons, has the athletic ability to continue to improve, 2020 is a contract year) 
  • Sheldon Richardson (underwhelmed relative to his big 3-year $37 million contract, though the loss of Garrett and Vernon put a bigger target on him, he was relatively disruptive vs. the pass - but did not make enough of an impact vs. the run) 

Need Level: Moderate

Need to Address:

  • The Browns allowed the 3rd most rushing yards in the NFL - they need to improve their run defense up-front. Note that Ogunjobi is a free agent after the 2020 season, and Richardson is after the 2021 season. 

Updates:

  • Signed Andrew Billings (billed as run-stuffer, offers little to no pass rush) 
  • Drafted in 3rd Round: Jordan Elliott (checks boxes in terms of size, length, and athletic ability, improved each year in college, statistical production was solid/unspectacular - but he faced a lot of double teams, advanced in terms of technical hand usage, nice value and upside in round 3) 
  • COVID-19 Opt-out: Andrew Billings (Elliot will now be counted on for a larger role)

Need #7: Tight End

Notable Free Agents:

  • Ricky Seals-Jones (4 of his 14 receptions went for TDs in 2019, has playmaking upside as a receiver) 

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • David Njoku (considered a breakout candidate going into the season - but a combination of injuries and friction with HC Kitchens - limited him to only 5 receptions across 4 games, he has the talent to be a star - but time is running out for him to put everything together) 
  • Demetrius Harris (despite Njoku's extended 2019 absence, Harris did not emerge as a reliable option in the receiving game, he reeled in only 14 passes)

Need Level: Moderate

Need to Address:

  • The Browns could look for a more reliable option than Njoku - who may or may not have worn out his welcome in Cleveland. At the very least they will need at least one TE for depth purposes. 

Updates:

  • Released Demetrius Harris
  • Signed Austin Hooper (coming off two seasons of Top 10 TE production in ATL, lacks the athletic ability of Njoku - but is much more reliable, he is a very solid TE1 and should make Mayfield's life easier - but the contract CLE gave him seems a bit like an overpay) 
  • Drafted in 4th Round: Harrison Bryant (considered by some to be the top TE in the entire draft class, won the Mackey Award in 2019 - given to the nation's Top TE, awesome production as a senior - 65, 1004, 7 in 12 starts, and was also productive in junior and sophomore seasons, did not have a great combine workout - but looks athletic on tape and separates well, he is advanced as a route-runner and can work all levels of the field, he is also a technically-sound blocker, no idea why he fell this late in the draft, nevertheless should be a massive steal for the Browns) 

Need #8: Cornerback

Notable Free Agents:

  • None

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Denzel Ward (2018 1st rounder, was a Pro Bowler as a rookie, he missed a few games in 2019 with a hamstring injury - but still had a strong year, he's one of the better young CBs in football) 
  • Greedy Williams (2019 2nd rounder, started 12 games as a rookie but mostly struggled - 0 INTs, undisciplined in coverage, and too many missed tackles, but if he can step up in 2020 - he does have the talent to blossom into a strong starting option)
  • Terrence Mitchell (backup with valuable starting experience, has made 11 starts over 2 seasons in CLE)
  • T.J. Carrie (ineffective over 6 starts in 2019, has not lived up to the contract he signed in 2017, there's buzz that he may cut in the offseason) 
  • Donnie Lewis Jr. (2019 7th rounder, spent his rookie year on the practice squad, had great balls skills at Tulane, could make a jump in year 2) 

Need Level: Mild

Need:

  • The Browns could look to add some competition and depth at CB. 

Updates:

  • Released T.J. Carrie 
  • Signed Kevin Johnson (former 1st round pick, was a disappointment in HOU - but was an effective slot CB in BUF last year, will replace Carrie in the slot) 
  • Signed M.J. Stewart (2018 2nd rounder, never found footing in Tampa but still has some theoretical upside)

Need #9: Defensive End / Edge

Notable Free Agents:

  • Bryan Cox Jr. (rotational DL, has not made much of an impact in CLE) 

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Myles Garrett (one of the NFL's best defensive players, elite all-around DE, he's got the talent to be remembered for much more than the ugly brawl situation) 
  • Olivier Vernon (was having a nice year before a knee injury effectively ended his season in November, the team struggled to stop the run when he wasn't in the lineup, the Browns will want to reduce his cap number in 2020 - either via a pay cut, trade or outright release) 
  • Chad Thomas (2018 3rd rounder, flashed major pass-rush upside when pressed into the starting lineup following Garrett's suspension, has breakout potential in 2020 - and could start if the team moves on from Vernon) 

Need Level: Mild

Need to Address:

  • If the Browns move on from Vernon they will need to bring in someone to compete with Thomas for the starting job. Depth is also needed. 

Updates: 

  • Signed Adrian Clayborn (solid rotational DE, 51 career starts, he's 31 years old but can still provide a run defense and pass rush boost, recorded 4 sacks in ATL last year - despite making only 1 start) 
  • Signed Curtis Weaver (rookie fifth rounder, was waived by the Dolphins after injuring his foot, had a very productive college career as Boise State and offers legit pass rush upside, he may not be healthy enough to play in 2020 but this is a nice long-term move by CLE)

Need #10: Running Back

Notable Free Agents:

  • Kareem Hunt (RFA, one of the more talented young RBs in the NFL, was an effective and dangerous playmaker following his return from 10-game suspension in 2019, Chubb-Hunt is arguably the best RB duo in football) 
  • Dontrell Hilliard (RB3, only had 13 carries in 2019)

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Nick Chubb (NFL's 2nd leading rusher with 1,494 yards on 298 carries - good for an excellent 5.0 ypc, also added 36 receptions for 278 yards, finished the season with 8 TDs, will enter his 3rd pro season as one of the league's best RBs) 

Need Level: Mild

Need to Address:

  • The Browns will need to add an RB2 if Kareem Hunt isn't retained. 

Updates:

  • Resigned Kareem Hunt
  • Resigned Dontrell Hilliard 

Need #11: Quarterback

Notable Free Agents:

  • Drew Stanton (signed in 2018 but has never made an appearance for the Browns, historically has been an average backup QB)

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Baker Mayfield (looked like a future star as a rookie - but took a step back in 2019 - a horrible coaching staff, and poor O-Line play deserve some of the blame - but Mayfield should shoulder most of it - his accuracy and decision making were way off - and his entire season can be described from top to bottom as sloppy, that said - he does have All-Pro intangibles and will enter the 2020 season with an improved coaching staff and an elite supporting cast - a massive bounceback is likely) 
  • Garrett Gilbert (was the unofficial AAF MVP in 2019, will compete for a backup job in 2020) 

Need Level: Mild

Need to Address:

  • The Browns need to bring in competition for the backup job. 

Updates:

  • Signed Case Keenum (low-level starter, high-level backup, worked well with Stefanski in Minnesota, should be a positive veteran presence for Mayfield) 

Need #12: Special Teams

Notable Free Agents:

  • None

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Austin Seibert (2019 5th rounder, converted a solid 25 of 29 FGs but missed 5 XPs, he will be the kicker in 2020 - but XPs need improvement) 
  • Jamie Gillan (2019 UDFA, had a fantastic rookie season, should be punting in CLE for a very long time) 

Need Level: Low

Need to Address:

  • The Browns are in a strong position at both kicker and punter.