The storm is over and everyone has had a weekend to breakdown the insane Friday that the Cleveland Browns had.
No one saw it coming. Everyone was preparing for the weekend, looking forward to Selection Sunday and possibly celebrating a St. Patrick Day’s parade. But when the notifications started coming, everyone’s attention turned to one thing – the Cleveland Browns.
It isn’t a resurgence, yet. Cleveland is yet to play a game with their new big three. Right now, though, it’s hard to say they aren’t going to cause some trouble in 2018.
Tyrod Taylor is an undervalued star. The quarterback wins year after year with mediocre wideouts and terrible coaches. Why he continued to be disrespected in Buffalo no one could figure out.
Josh Gordon would be a top five wide receiver if he never dealt with trouble. Even if some still say his time off hurt him, it didn’t. He came back last season and proved he can beat any defensive back in the NFL with a rookie quarterback and no other threat for the defense to acknowledge.
Now, he has an actual quarterback and Jarvis Landry; a receiver who put up 112 receptions last season.
There goes double teams.
And it’s not over yet. Cleveland went from nothing to “something” in an hour. But with the first and fourth pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Browns can actually be a team next season.
It’s now almost guaranteed Saquon Barkley is going to be the first pick. He’s the best player in the draft, and to some, the best player the draft has seen in some time.
So, now they have a Pro Bowl quarterback, two Pro Bowl wide receivers and the best running back in the draft. And then comes the fourth pick.
It’ll probably be Quenton Nelson, the guard out of Notre Dame. He’s the best lineman in the draft and the second-best player in the draft. Indianapolis and New York aren’t going to take him. When he’s around at No. 4, Cleveland takes him and begins building their offensive line.
None of this makes them a contender. They aren’t going to make the playoffs this season unless some offensive additions take them from 0-16 to 10-6, which they won’t.
They’re on their way, though. Maybe not this season, but the Browns will one day make the playoffs again. Something the entire AFC North should be worried about.
This comes at the worst time because Pittsburgh is three years from finding a new quarterback. In three years, Cleveland is going to be good enough to be a divisional contender. Not at the level to compete with a complete Pittsburgh team, but good enough to challenge a quarterback-less Steelers team.
So, the future is a little scary for Pittsburgh, but nothing they can’t handle. With a great quarterback in the next two drafts, or a surprising free agent signing, they won’t miss a beat.
Right now, though, despite not effecting the Steelers, it does impact the rest of the AFC North. Baltimore and Cincinnati are declining by the year, and that’s a green light for Cleveland to jump into second place.
At 9-7, the Ravens are the standard for second place in the division. Maybe that jumps to 10-6, but chances are it stays somewhere near 8-8. Cleveland may not be 8-8 immediately, but there is certainly a chance they can pull off a .500 record.
Basically, Cleveland made the division harder for the two teams outside of Pittsburgh. The Steelers remain a Super Bowl contender and the best team in the AFC. But Baltimore and Cincy are in trouble.
It’s not good for anyone but the Browns. Cleveland isn’t winning a Super Bowl, but it shouldn’t surprise anyone when they make their division rivals look worse than they are.