As the Browns prepare for training camp, we’re going to offer our opinion of the Top Five players on the team as the season begins.
1.Joe Thomas — Although Thomas was listed as the 25th best player by NFL Network, a couple slots behind Joe Haden, it is hard to list Haden ahead of Thomas when Thomas has been to the Pro Bowl in each of his first eight NFL seasons. It’s a good bet that Thomas is a first ballot Hall of Fame player. He has consistently been a great player for the Browns and until his play drops off or he is displaced, Thomas is No. 1.
2.Joe Haden — Haden was listed as the 23rd best player by NFL Network. After making the Pro Bowl the last two seasons, Haden is entering his prime and has been ascending his play each year. Haden is clearly a team leader and it could be argued that Haden is the team’s best player.
3.Alex Mack — Mack is a two-time Pro Bowl performer, who likely would have been selected for a third time last year if not for his season-ending broken leg. Mack’s value was evidenced by the impact of his loss after he was injured as the Browns running game and offense spiraled down. With Mack having the option to opt out of his contract after this year, it behooves the Browns to try and find a way to keep one of their best players in their prime on the team.
4.Tashaun Gipson — Gipson is coming off his first Pro Bowl season and is entering the prime of his career. Gipson has come a long way after being signed as an undrafted rookie free agent from Wyoming. The safety has 11 interceptions in the last 26 games he’s played. Gipson is playing on a one-year restricted free agent contact and the Browns need to find a way to sign him to a long-term extension.
5.Paul Kruger — Kruger had his best season last year with 11 sacks and showed he could be a three-down performer as he was solid against the run accumulating 53 tackles.
OL Joel Bitonio
P Andy Lee
WR Dwayne Bowe