We’re at the midway point of the season for the Cleveland Browns, and despite their 0-8 start, we still need to dig through the weeds and figure out which players have put forth respectable efforts.
For the first time that I can recollect, I am doing a “Top 20 Power Rankings” for Browns players. Note: this list is very different than the Top 20 most important players to the franchise. If that were the list, then S Jabrill Peppers would be included on it. But Peppers, for multiple reasons, is not on the list because my Top 20 only factors in actual performances during the first eight games of the season.
Top 20 Browns in 2017 (Performance-Based)
|1||Jason McCourty||The veteran cornerback has made the release of Joe Haden a footnote, as he's performed like one of the most shutdown corners in the NFL.|
|2||Joe Thomas||Despite his consecutive snaps streak ending, Thomas was well on his way to another All-Pro and Pro Bowl season.|
|3||Duke Johnson||The Browns' best offensive playmaker. Leads the team in receiving, forces missed tackles, and had 3 total touchdowns.|
|4||Danny Shelton||Has proved himself worthy of a former first-round pick with stout play against the run and adjusting fine to Gregg Williams' 4-3 defense.|
|5||Myles Garrett||Despite only being active for 3 games, he leads the team with 4 sacks and has clearly shown how much of an instant impact he makes as a pass rusher.|
|6||Shon Coleman||The most pleasant surprise of the season, Coleman has had a couple of perfect performances and looks like a long-term starter at right tackle.|
|7||Emmanuel Ogbah||Even though the pass rush is below average, Ogbah's taken off as a run stopper and is starting to make some other high-impact plays with tipped passes.|
|8||Briean Boddy-Calhoun||Teams rarely target Boddy-Calhoun as the nickel corner, and when they do, he seems to make a play on the football. Also the team's biggest hitter.|
|9||Larry Ogunjobi||The rookie's snaps have been limited, but he gets a very impressive push in run defense and looks like a home run pick.|
|10||Derrick Kindred||People have pointed out that one reason Jabrill Peppers isn't near the line of scrimmage is because Kindred excels at it, more so as a run stopper.|
|11||Jamie Meder||Darn-near written off heading into this season, Meder is just a good, stable player up front who has helped ensure depth amidst othe injuries.|
|12||Joel Bitonio||Entering his 4th season, I was hoping Bitonio would morph into a Pro Bowler. He's still above average in pass protection, but hasn't broken that barrier.|
|13||Kevin Zeitler||Coming over from Cincinnati, the veteran had some miscues early in the season that stalled drives. He's come around, but likewise isn't at Pro Bowl caliber.|
|14||Joe Schobert||The second most pleasant surprise of the season, playing nearly every snap on defense at MLB. Has had some ups and downs, but seems to be getting better.|
|15||Jamar Taylor||A bit of a rough start to the season, but remember that these corners often have no safety help and no pass rush to assist them. He's been stable enough.|
|16||Christian Kirksey||Overall, a disappointing first half of the season for Kirksey, particularly in coverage. I have to wonder if the switch to OLB has been a factor.|
|17||Isaiah Crowell||Statistically, it hasn't been good for Crowell, but I see the same player I've always seen. He must hate the fact that this is his contract year.|
|18||David Njoku||The rookie has shown his athleticism here and there, but isn't get the snaps to prove himself more. He's also had a few drops to lessen his stock.|
|19||Britton Colquitt||I can't remember one shank job from Colquitt, who is 6th in the NFL in net average and doesn't have a touchback this season.|
|20||James Burgess||Filled in admirably (if not better) for Jamie Collins while he was hurt. Otherwise, has made plays in a niche pass coverage role and on special teams.|
Just as big of a story could be the players who aren’t on the list. Some big names missing include QB DeShone Kizer, WR Kenny Britt, WR Corey Coleman, TE Seth DeValve, C J.C. Tretter, OLB Jamie Collins, and SS Jabrill Peppers. Of the group, the only one I really give a pass to is Coleman, who broke his hand in the second game.
The biggest overall problem is that no quarterback appears in the list. In fact, I don’t know how far I would’ve had to go until I reached a spot worthy for Kizer. It might be higher than you think because of the lack of talent at other positions, but he wasn’t “on the bubble” or anything like that.
The second biggest problem is there being no receivers on the list. When I considered who I could possibly include, Kasen Williams and Bryce Treggs were the two players I thought about, but that’s based on how I’m intrigued by their skill sets, not what they’ve actually been able to contribute on gameday. Hopefully by the final five games of the season, we can see a big boost in that department with the potential returns of Corey Coleman and Josh Gordon.
What do you think of my Top 20 list? Were there players I left out? Are there rankings you would have altered? Let us know in the comments down below!
Note: Honorable mention goes to LS Charley Hughlett, who always does an A+ job but just does not get much weighted recognition in something like this.