The Cleveland Browns have a lot to prove and earn in 2023. From GM Andrew Berry to HC Kevin Stefanski and all throughout the expensive, seemingly loaded roster, the Browns are a team on the brink. The brink of something special or the brink of calamity.
Even the idea of a “loaded” roster is based on contracts and some individual history and not team success. Deshaun Watson is the prime example of a player who played great, with the Houston Texans, but had very little team success. Watson joins Berry and Stefanski in having a lot to prove this season.
Cleveland’s roster does have a few players that are for sure top-level talents. While many will argue just how good each is, the Browns have three players among ESPN’s Top 100 starting at #13:
13. Myles Garrett
EDGE | Browns
2022 rank: 9
Signature stat: In 2022, Garrett’s 16 sacks were tied with Haason Reddick for second most in the NFL — trailing only Nick Bosa (18.5). Garrett also had 16 sacks in 2021, making him the second player in the past 30 years to have 16-plus sacks in back-to-back seasons (J.J. Watt, 2014-15).
Garrett dropping four spots says a lot about expectations and a little more about a few players on the list who jumped up ahead of him. The 16-sack stat is interesting.
26. Nick Chubb
RB | Browns
2022 rank: 47
Signature stat: Chubb has rushed for 1,000 yards in each of the past four seasons, tied with Jim Brown for the longest streak in Browns history. Chubb’s career 5.2 yards per rush average is the second best in NFL history after Jamaal Charles’ 5.4 (minimum of 1,000 rushes).
A 21 spot jump for Chubb as the Cleveland running back slowly gets more and more recognition. The article quotes Watson in saying how important Chubb will be the team in 2023.
79. Joel Bitonio
G | Browns
2022 rank: NR
What they are saying: ”Joel’s somebody that’s constantly — in games, in practice — doing it exactly the way you want it done. He’s a teach-tape player. He’s done it at a high level for a very long time. I don’t know that there’s many guards that have the combination of power, movement skills, the ability to pass protect. A very complete player and a great person off the field as well. A huge part of what we do. A huge leader for this football team.” — Browns coach Kevin Stefanski
Hard to tell how big of a jump Bitonio made but again nice to see the Browns player getting more proper recognition this year. On the offensive line, a player either needs to be physically dominant and impressive or show so much consistency of play that they finally get attention.
Bitonio is the latter.
Unlike other lists of this ilk, ESPN doesn’t have any version of honorable mention.
What do you think of where the three Browns are ranked? Surprised players like Amari Cooper and Za’Darius Smith are not listed? Join the comment section below to discuss: