Fresh off of their best season in 26 years, the Cleveland Browns have their sights set on even greater success in 2021. While they are inside one of the NFL's most competitive divisions, the Browns' roster is good enough to possibly bring home Cleveland's first division title since 1989.
The Browns have a two-headed monster at running back, a formidable passing attack and a talented front-five on the offensive line. They also have a young quarterback who is looking to build off of last year's success. Defensively, the Browns have added several major pieces to a unit that already included one of the league's premier pass rushers. The group is led by Kevin Stefanski, who won Coach of the Year in 2020 after leading the Browns to 12 wins, including a wild-card playoff victory over the Steelers.
With training camp around the corner, we decided to take a look at the Browns' projected depth chart and possible starting lineup for Week 1.
Rookies are denoted with (*)
Dementric Felton*/Tre Harbison*/John Kelly
JaMarcus Bradley/JoJo Natson/Ryan Switzer
Derrick Willies/Alexander Hollins
The Browns have put quarterback Baker Mayfield in position to build off of his successful 2020 campaign. Along with having one of the league's top rushing duos in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, Mayfield has a strong offensive line that includes veteran right tackle Jack Conklin and 2020 first-round pick Jedrick Wills. Mayfield also has his entire receiving corps in tact for the 2021 season after Cleveland was able to re-sign Rashard Higgins. Speaking of receivers, Odell Beckham Jr. returns to the fray after missing most of last season with an injury. The Browns also have one of the NFL's more formidable trio of tight ends in Austin Hooper, Harrison Bryant and David Njoku.
It obviously won't fall solely on his shoulders, but Mayfield does carry the expectation of a franchise and a fan base that is starving for a championship. As Troy Aikman once said, when a franchise takes you with the No. 1 overall pick, that franchise isn't drafting you to to win a division or two; they're drafting you to win a championship. That's the expectation for Mayfield and the Browns in 2021. Anything else is a disappointment.
|WLB||Jacob Phillips||Jeremiah Koramoah-Owusu||Elijah Lee|
AJ Green/Kiondre Thomas*
The Browns added significant pieces to their defense this offseason. In free agency, they signed safety Johnson and cornerback Troy Hill, two players who helped the Rams boast the league's top-ranked pass defense last season. The Browns further strengthened their defense with the signings of veterans Jadeveon Clowney, Takk McKinley and Malik Jackson. Cleveland's defense got even better after selecting cornerback Greg Newsome in the first round and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah in the second round. While it's premature to crown this unit the best in the North, it's safe to say that the Browns' defense will be vastly improved from the unit that finished 21st in the league in scoring in 2020.
|KR||D'Ernest Johnson||Donovan Peoples-Jones|
A Pro Bowler in 2014, Parkey made over 86% of his field goal attempts in 2020 but just 91.5% of his point-after attempts. McLaughlin, who spent parts of last season with the Jaguars and Jets, went 4-of-5 on field goal attempts and 5-of-6 on point-after attempts. D'Ernest Johnson, after averaging a solid 25.1 yards per kickoff return in 2020, should get plenty of special teams reps during training camp.