While fans are always hoping, and generally expecting, the Cleveland Browns to win games quickly, the Cleveland Browns Organization seems focused on the future. So while we will continue to analyze and evaluate the moves the Browns made in the NFL Draft, why not look forward some.
The key season for the Hue Jackson, Sashi Brown, Andrew Brown and Paul DePodesta led team will be the 2018 season. At that point, the 14 players the Browns selected this weekend will be starting their 3rd season in the league. While odds are highly against all 14 even making the roster in their first year, we can envision what the team's starting units might look like at that time.
QB - Robert Griffin III or 2017 1st Round Pick - While Hue keeps talking up Cody Kessler, in 3 years the starting QB for the Browns is most likely RG3 or whoever the Browns take high in the 1st Round next year. While Kessler might be the 2nd coming of Andy Dalton it will be hard for the Browns to pass on a QB high next year if RG3 struggles this year.
RB - Duke Johnson - Maybe the biggest surprise of this NFL Draft was the Browns not taking a running back. That leaves Duke as the primary ball carrier along with Isaiah Crowell at this point. With between 9 and 12 picks next season, the Browns likely add to the depth chart but for now Johnson is leading the way to start the '18 season.
WR - Corey Coleman, Rashard Higgins & Jordan Payton - Expecting Jackson to use 3 wide sets, or 2 tight ends, more than a fullback is just a guess. Obviously the Browns are expecting big things from Coleman while Higgins gives them a big, strong outside threat and Payton gives them a solid possession receiver option. Ricardo Louis could also join the coversation with his elite size/speed combination.
TE - Gary Barnidge - The hope is that the "Barn Owl" will still be around in a couple seasons. He had his breakout year last year but should still be good enough to start the 2018 season. Seth DeValve is a long term prospect who could be coming into his own in 2018 but the veteran still has a place starting.
OL - Joel Bitonio, Cameron Erving, Spencer Drango, Shon Coleman & Austin Pasztor - In 2018, and possibly a year sooner, Joe Thomas and John Greco are unlikely to be with the team. How the 5 man unit will look is a little up in the air. Based on what we know so far, the guess is that Coleman and Drango are the tackles with Bitonio and Pasztor at guard. Erving is planned at the center spot. Bitonio and Erving both could move around, including to tackle spots, but for now we can plan it this way.
DL - Xavier Cooper, Danny Shelton & Carl Nassib - In the base 3-4 defense, Cooper will be playing a lot of 3 technique, Shelton at the nose and Nassib at the 5 tech spot. If they all develop like we expect them to, saw flashes out of both rookies last season, this could be the strength of the defense.
OLB - Emmanuel Ogbah & Nate Orchard - The rookie Ogbah is a big, strong, fast guy who will join Orchard in learning the position after playing on the line in college. Both can get after the QB from a variety of spots on the field. Joe Schobert could join them on passing downs, giving the Browns an impressive NASCAR package.
ILB - Christian Kirksey & Philip Wright - DeMario Davis was signed for 2 seasons and will be closing on 30 when 2018 season starts. Kirksey continues to develop and "Scooby" is a thumper in the middle that could be a steal. He also could be off the team and Schobert or another could be starting. At this point, Kirksey's speed and coverage skills fits next to the bigger, run stopper in Wright.
CB - Joe Haden & Pierre Desir - At this point, Haden's future with the Browns might be up in the air. He struggled mightily last year and then had surgery well after his season ended. It wouldn't be shocking if he were replaced in a couple season. This year should be Desir's breakout season. K'Waun Williams has concussion issues and the rest of the young CBs still have a ton to prove.
S - Ibraheim Campbell & Derrick Kindred - Campbell showed pretty well last year while Kindred hasn't even seen the field yet. Both have range and the ability to come up and hit. Having mirors on each side of the defense gives Horton a ton of options moving forward.
While a lot of these players were just drafted, it is interesting to look forward and see that, if things pan out perfectly, the Browns now have a bunch of young players, that fit the new regime and could be starting in 2 years. The better news is that the Browns will have another 9 to 12 picks next year, including 4 in the first 2 rounds, and an extra 2nd Round pick the year after that to continue to build this roster.
If everything falls into place, this is your starting lineup Week 1 of the 2018 season plus a few more top level draft picks.
Get you excited at all?