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2017 NFL Team Preview: AFC North

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Cleveland Browns

Credit: Ron Schwane/USA TODAY Sports

Key Acquisitions: Kenny Britt, Kevin Zeitler, J.C. Tretter, Brock Osweiler

Rookies: Miles Garrett, Jabrill Peppers, DeShone Kizer, David Njoku

Key Losses: Terrelle Pryor

Record: 4-12

Cleveland’s offensive line just became one of the best in the entire league again. The Browns gave up 66 sacks in 2016, which led to RGIII, Josh McCown, and Cody Kessler all miss time due to injury. These quarterbacks aren’t the most sturdy players in the league, but a bad o-line is definitely not a help.

The Cleveland Browns have a lot of unknowns heading into the preseason. Entering training camp, Hue Jackson stated that Cody Kessler is the starter. Now for the start of the preseason, that might be true, but rookie DeShone Kizer can make a run at the job, as can former Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler. It is still yet to be seen if the “franchise” quarterback is on this Browns roster, but this QB battle will definitely be interesting to watch this preseason.

First overall pick Myles Garrett is running with the first team defense and is going to be the starting defensive end. Garrett had two official sacks in Cleveland’s Orange and Brown scrimmage, but reports said that Garrett actually had four total. If Garrett can come in and be an immediate threat off the edge, that would be a huge boost to a struggling Browns pass rush that only had 26 sacks last season. Cleveland’s defense was near the bottom of the league in 2016, but with safety Jabrill Peppers and defensive end Myles Garrett contributing, I expect the Browns defense to improve slightly from last season.

I talked up the offensive line but still have the Browns finishing last in the division. I expect Cleveland’s offense to be more effective as they establish a starting quarterback, and with the great offensive line, running backs Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson could each have great seasons. The Browns defense will improve slightly, but ranking up from 28th to 23rd isn’t much of a step up. So congratulations to the Cleveland Browns organization for not finishing last in the NFL, or did I speak too soon?

 

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