Perhaps the most surprising teams in the NFL last season, for better and worse, were the Browns and Ravens. 

The Ravens went 14-2 and were the league’s best regular season team. They were led by a second-year quarterback who took major steps forward from his rookie season and, aided by a talented cast of playmakers on the outside, seemed unstoppable at times.

The Browns, before the season, looked to be everything the Ravens ended up becoming. But Baker Mayfield regressed from his rookie season, Odell Beckahm Jr. disappointed in his first season as a Brown and head coach Freddie Kitchens was fired at the end of the season, his first in Cleveland. 

While it may seem the Browns will always be destined for disappointment, the arrow is in fact pointed up in Cleveland.

The Browns have the longest playoff drought in the NFL, 17 seasons, which dates back to 2002. The last playoff game they played was on Jan. 5, 2003, just two days before Lamar Jackson’s sixth birthday. 

But there’s no reason to believe the Browns' drought is a forgone conclusion to continue. In fact, with a good draft, they’ll be in prime position to contend for a playoff spot. 

The Browns hired Kevan Stefanski in the offseason to right the ship and signed tight end Austin Hooper and right tackle Jack Conklin in free agency to help solidify the offense. 

Hooper, a Pro Bowl player in 2018 and 2019, caught 75 passes for 787 yards and six touchdowns last season as a member of the Falcons. Conklin, a 25-year-old tackle, is one of the better young linemen in the NFL. 


Now, the Browns will have an offense with Jarvis Landry and Beckham at wide receiver, Hooper and David Njoku at tight end and Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt at running back. The only biggest need left to fill on the offense is left tackle. 

With the 10th, 41st, 74th, 97th, 115th, 187th and 244th picks in this week’s NFL Draft, the Browns have the draft capital to end up with their franchise left tackle, too. 

If all goes as expected, the Browns will certainly have a pick of the lot when it comes to drafting a tackle. Joe Burrow, Chase Young, Jeffrey Okudah, Justin Herbert, Tua Tagovailoa and Isiah Simmons are all widely expected to be picked in the top 10, meaning the Browns might have a choice between Jedrick Wills Jr., Tristan Wirfs, Mekhi Becton and Andrew Thomas — all tackles expected to be picked in the first round. 

With Myles Garrett due back from suspension and the secondary now healthy, the defense should be at least incrementally improved. 

While the Browns finished 6-10 last season and struggled on both sides of the ball, they’re still a talented group that could take the NFL by surprise in 2020. 

All of that, of course, starts with getting this week’s draft picks right.

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