I noticed something a couple years ago: the Cleveland Browns don't draft bad players; in fact, they usually find pretty good players. I'm talking Pro Bowl-level.
I was looking at old Browns rosters (back to 2012) and there are a lot of notable names. Below are former Browns players that ended up playing for playoff teams not long after they left Cleveland. The year that team made the playoffs is also listed.
- T.J. Ward - DEN (2014,15)
- Alex Mack - ATL (2016,17)
- Ahtyba Rubin - SEA (2015,16)
- Jabaal Sheard - NE (2015,16)
- Joe Haden - PIT (2017)
- Taylor Gabriel - ATL (2016,17)
- Dion Lewis - NE (2015,16,17)
- Tashaun Gipson - JAX (2017)
- Frostee Rucker - ARZ (2014,15)
- Jordan Cameron - MIA (2016)
- Trevin Wade - NYG (2016)
- D'Qwell Jackson - IND (2014)
- Mitchell Schwartz - KC (2016,17)
- Benjamin Watson - NO (2013)
- Cameron Erving - KC (2017)
And this is just looking back to the 2012 roster. I didn't even include some guys because of them being primarily reserve players. Travis Benjamin isn't on here but he's currently on a Chargers team that are sleeper Super Bowl contenders this year. All the recent playoff years means that a lot of these guys were on the same Cleveland Browns roster. Why they didn't re-sign some of these guys is beyond me. Some of them were even Pro Bowlers before they left the team.
What that list tells me is that other coaches can see the talent in Browns players and utilize their potential. Cleveland can find talent but don't realize when they have it. If they've seen all their ex-players bloom in different locations then maybe they'll learn to trust themselves more often. I'm a firm believer that personnel continuity is one of the keys to a successful team. If half your roster is hitting free agency every year then you're starting from scratch each offseason. It probably doesn't sound like I'm making a case for myself so let's get back on track.
Things Going Right
Tyrod Taylor doesn't get enough credit. He's one of the smartest quarterbacks in the league, in my opinion. He seldom turns the ball over and runs efficiently. Some say he's a little too cautious but Sammy Watkins knows he can throw a deep ball. He also led the Buffalo Bills to the playoffs and you can't take that away from him.
The crazy thing is that he may not even be starting for the full season. Baker Mayfield was selected with the first overall pick in this year's draft so Tyrod may not have a lot of breathing room. Baker reminds me of Russell Wilson. He's on the smaller side but is mobile and knows how to make plays. He doesn't have the red flags that Johnny Manziel and Brandon Weeden had. DeShone Kizer's big flaws last year were turnovers and being too eager with deep balls which is what ultimately decided games. I don't think you have to worry about that with either Tyrod or Baker.