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Mel Kiper’s 2018 NFL Draft Re-grade: Browns improve to a solid A thanks to Baker Mayfield

Nick Chubb, Denzel Ward, and Antonio Callaway had something to do with it too.

NFL: Cleveland Browns-Press Conference Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Every year, Mel Kiper re-grades the drafts of all 32 teams from the previous season after getting to evaluate how much progress rookies have made. He provides the disclaimer that this is just a fun exercise, and that it takes more than one year to firmly label how well a team’s draft class did.

After the draft last year, Kiper gave the Browns a B- for their 2018 draft. Below is a table of the Browns’ 2018 picks:

Browns’ 2018 NFL Draft Picks

Round Pick Position Player School
Round Pick Position Player School
1 1 QB Baker Mayfield  Oklahoma
1 4 CB Denzel Ward Ohio State
2 33 OT Austin Corbett  Nevada
2 35 RB Nick Chubb  Georgia
3 67 DE Chad Thomas  Miami (FL)
4 105 WR Antonio Callaway  Florida
5 150 LB Genard Avery  Memphis
6 175 WR Damion Ratley  Texas A&M
6 188 CB Simeon Thomas  Louisiana

With a year to reflect on the draft class, Kiper had nothing but positive things to say about Cleveland:

Simply put, GM John Dorsey’s first draft in charge of the Browns was fantastic. Quarterback Baker Mayfield brought a different energy to Cleveland football from the time he was drafted No. 1, and he was fantastic on the field when he took over, breaking the rookie record for touchdown passes (27) while starting 13 games. Dorsey got his guy, and there’s no doubt the Browns are ascending.

Elsewhere, I questioned the pick of cornerback Denzel Ward over pass-rusher Bradley Chubb at No. 4, but Ward became the team’s top cornerback from Day 1 and he had a Pro Bowl season. Nick Chubb took over as the team’s starting running back and forced the team to trade away Carlos Hyde. Antonio Callaway looks like a steal in the fourth round, as the receiver with off-field issues going into the draft had 43 catches and five touchdowns as a rookie. He’s going to be a deep-ball threat for years to come. Linebacker Genard Avery is another likely 2019 starter. Undrafted left tackle Desmond Harrison began the season as the starter, though he was benched midseason. Harrison could be the swing tackle going forward. Austin Corbett didn’t play much as a rookie, but he’s expected to take over one of the starting guard spots in 2019.

Again, this is a tremendous class, and the Browns are for real. I love what they’ve done this offseason, too, and there will be several starters from this rookie class.

Because of all that, the grade improved to an A in his re-grade. The only other team to receive that re-grade for the 2018 NFL Draft was the Indianapolis Colts. Way to go again, Dorsey!