BEREA, Ohio — With the Cleveland Browns optional training activities (OTAs) having started on Wednesday, fans are eager to see the transformation the team has made since last year’s dismal season. Let’s take a look at two of the major storylines headed into the first session of OTAs for the Browns.
Key Offseason Acquisitions
The 2018 NFL offseason was arguably the biggest in Cleveland Browns history and after the past two seasons of a combined 1-31 record, it needed to be.
After the previous GM, Sashi Brown, had amassed an incredible amount of draft picks and cap space, it was finally time to put all those resources to use. Unfortunately to Brown and his supporters, myself included, he would be let go before he could use all those assets.
That leads us to the first major move for the organization: the hiring of John Dorsey as the new general manager for the Cleveland Browns.
Dorsey is from the Ron Wolf scouting tree and is considered a “football guy” while Brown, who came over to the NFL from MLB, was much more into analytics and maximizing assets.
Dorsey started his personnel career in Green Bay with the Packers and then became the Kansas City Chiefs GM where he worked from 2013 to 2016. Dorsey is not afraid to take risks and tends to be very aggressive when making moves.
Because of his aggressiveness and Sashi Brown’s ability to maximize the Cleveland Browns’ assets, Cleveland was able to have the huge offseason that they had.
Starting at the most important position for the Browns, Dorsey was able to add a veteran quarterback who rarely turns the ball over in Tyrod Taylor for just a third-round pick. Some other notable trades and free agent signings include receiver Jarvis Landry, safety Randall Taylor, offensive tackle Chris Hubbard, running back Carlos Hyde, and cornerback T.J. Carrie.
As it does every year, the NFL draft had a major impact on the roster and the fan outlook for the team going into the next year.
With the first and fourth picks in the draft, it was essential for Cleveland to get those picks right. After making somewhat unexpected picks at both spots (Baker Mayfield first overall, Denzel Ward fourth overall), many fans were more uneasy than excited.
Dorsey made his mark when he selected a talented, yet troubled, wide receiver Antonio Callaway in the fourth round. Callaway is arguably the most talented receiver in the 2018 draft, but fell for character and off-the-field issues.
The main goal for John Dorsey and the new regime is to build a winner and that starts at the top. Dorsey is considered a blue collar, hard-working football guy and by looking at his key additions, it is clear he wants his team to embody that as well.
Safety Randall Taylor is known around the league as a true professional who has had to work for everything given to him and never complains. He just continues to prove doubters wrong.
Receiver Jarvis Landry, an under-sized receiver, has that same mindset. After hearing what he couldn’t do coming out of LSU, the only thing Landry has done is reel in more receptions than anyone in NFL history in their first four seasons.
The Browns’ top selection in the draft, quarterback Baker Mayfield, exudes hard work. Mayfield has had to work his butt off to earn every accolade he has accomplished. Out of high school, Mayfield was not offered a scholarship from any major school and decided to walk on at Texas Tech. By the start of his freshman season, he became the leader of the offense and the starting quarterback. He was then overlooked again and therefore decided to transfer to Oklahoma with no guarantee that he would start. Mayfield won over the locker room in just one summer and became the starting quarterback as a walk-on for the Sooners. Having a quarterback with the mentality of Mayfield could be just what the Browns have been missing since returning to Cleveland as an expansion franchise in 1999.
On paper, the 2018 NFL offseason was considered a major success for the Cleveland Browns organization. It is now time to see if that success on paper can finally lead to results on the field.
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