How close are Browns to surpassing Steelers in AFC North?
The Cleveland Browns bolstered their roster once again in 2020. Is this the year they finally surpass the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North.
It’s the same old song and dance year after year. The Cleveland Browns, a team that has been near the bottom for decades, is once again drawing a lot of buzz from the national media. For the past several years, NFL experts have predicted they would surpass the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC rankings.
So could this be the year they finally do?
With their current financial situation, the Steelers didn’t have a lot of wiggle room to make splash moves this offseason. They were forced to let Javon Hargrave walk this offseason, and they practically rummaged through their piggy banks just to find enough spare cash to retain Bud Dupree on the franchise tag in 2020.
While they were able to land a handful of players like Eric Ebron, Chris Wormley, and Chase Claypool that should give their team a boost, they didn’t do nearly as much as some other teams this offseason. One of those being the Clevland Browns.
The Browns were able to keep their core roster intact from 2019, but their additions to the team were substantial. Cleveland added a handful of veterans like Karl Joseph, Kevin Johnson, Adrian Clayborn, and Andrew Billings this offseason. But those were far from their biggest additions.
The biggest weakness on Cleveland’s roster last year was their ability to keep Baker Mayfield protected. They may have solved the issue with two premier tackles – Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills. Conklin is a former All-Pro right tackle from the Titans, while Wills was one of the best tackle prospects I’ve graded since studying the draft back in 2014. He will be Baker’s blindside protector this year.
In addition to acquiring a pair of talented offensive tackles, Cleveland showcased a solid draft that included names like Grant Delpit, Jordan Elliott, Jacob Phillips, Harrison Bryant, Nick Harris, and Donovan Peoples-Jones.
But despite all of Cleveland’s 2020 additions, it’s far too early to say that they will surpass the Steelers in 2020.
In the NFL, nothing is more important than the quarterback position, and while Baker Mayfield took a step backward last year, Pittsburgh has Ben Roethlisberger returning to the field in 2020. Despite his old age and repaired elbow, there’s no question that Ben will be an improvement over the dismal quarterback play we witnessed in Pittsburgh last season. His presence on the field will be an immediate upgrade to an offense that ranked 30th in the league last season.
In addition, Stephon Tuitt’s return should more than makeup for the loss of Javon Hargrave this offseason, and with retaining Dupree, there’s no reason to suggest Pittsburgh’s defense won’t be very good again in 2020.
At some point, it’s going to happen – Cleveland will overtake Pittsburgh in the AFC North. But the Steelers are a very well-run organization with a returning franchise quarterback. I doubt it will happen this year.