Cleveland Browns general manager John Dorsey walked into a perfect situation when he took over the role in December of 2017.
Dorsey made the most of the opportunity turning backup quarterback DeShone Kizer into starting safety Damirous Randall, acquiring wide receiver Jarvis Landry for a pair of third-day draft picks, and avoiding the temptation to go wild in free agency with the team’s abundant salary cap space, among other notable early transactions.
It was on draft weekend where Dorsey truly made his mark, picking up a trio of starters in quarterback Baker Mayfield, running back Nick Chubb and cornerback Denzel Ward, along with promising players in wide receiver Antonio Callaway and linebacker Genard Avery.
It is no surprise then that the Browns are the only team in the AFC North Division to earn an “A” from NFL.com’s Nick Shook in his grading of the best rookie classes from 2018:
Cleveland found plenty of high-level contributors in the early portion of this draft. In fact, had Corbett paired with Joel Bitonio to solve the left side of the line, this would have been a no-doubt home-run class -- but the jury is still out on the guard. Mayfield is a franchise quarterback. Ward is a blanket of a corner who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie and only has durability concerns standing in his way. Chubb ripped off his share of big gains. Callaway has plenty of potential as a speedy complement to Jarvis Landry, though he doesn’t have the size to function as a No. 1-type of receiver. Avery was very productive as a rookie, especially against the pass, trailing only Bradley Chubb in total pressures among rookie edge defenders, per Pro Football Focus.
Thanks in part to the work done by their rookie class, the Browns will not be picking at the top of the 2019 NFL Draft when it opens on April 25 in Nashville, but Dorsey will have ample opportunity to improve the team’s fortunes. Cleveland has 10 selections overall, with their own pick in each of the draft’s six rounds, along with a third-round and fifth-round selection from the New England Patriots, and a fifth-round and seventh-round selection from Jacksonville Jaguars.
Dorsey and the Browns set a pretty high bar at the 2018 NFL Draft with one of the league’s best rookie classes.
Now all he has to do is repeat it again come April.