The Cleveland Browns defeated the New York Jets in the first preseason game of the 2023 NFL calendar. The Hall of Fame game wasn’t overly exciting and wins and losses mean very little during the preseason but it was nice to see a Browns victory.
The big story coming out of the game is the play of rookie QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson in leading Cleveland back for the win. An injury to Daylen Baldwin and a few fun highlights, before and during the game, are important as well.
For most teams, preseason is about the bottom of the roster and rookies. Getting a look at how their NFL draft class has turned college production into NFL-level play in a short amount of time is vital.
For the Browns, without a first or second-round selection in the 2023 draft, it is expected that this draft class is about the future. Like DTR, the future was now on Thursday night as the rookies each had some positives. A quick analysis:
- WR Cedric Tillman - Looking like the big, physical receiver he was projected to be coming out, Tillman got separation off the line and ran smooth routes. Two receptions for 35 yards on three targets is a fine start.
- DT Siaki Ika - On third and short, Ika did exactly what a large defensive lineman is supposed to do. The Baylor rookie stood up his blocker and then pushed him into the center next to him to create a pileup and stop the runner for no gain:
I don't think there was a single mock draft where the Browns weren't taking Siaki Ika. Easy to understand why considering their need for a nose tackle. He was a monster at Baylor doing this exact thing. pic.twitter.com/9s2S5icrGs— Ian Valentino (@NFLDraftStudy) August 4, 2023
Was that a dump truck or Ferrari move?
- OL Dawand Jones - Playing every snap (unless we missed him coming out for a play or two), Jones was obviously mammoth on a field of huge players. He rag-dolled defenders in the run game a few times and looked lighter on his feet than expected.
- DE Isaiah McGuire - No particular play jumped out with McGuire but he was around the ball often. A negative play for the rookie when he didn’t hold the edge on the Jets lone touchdown run of the game, getting sucked inside a little too much.
- QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson - He wasn’t perfect but DTR was a lot of fun to watch on Thursday night. Showed zip on the ball, quickness with his feet and a calm in the pocket leading to a 124 QB rating.
- CB Cameron Mitchell - A big pass breakup on 4th down for the fifth-round pick was a highlight for the defense.
- OL Luke Wypler - Listed as the team’s third-string center, Wypler showed good quickness in the myriad of screen and draw plays Cleveland ran Thursday night.
One game, preseason, etc, etc, but Luke Wypler looked every bit the steal most people thought he was in the sixth round in last night's game— Gordon McGuinness (@PFF_Gordon) August 4, 2023
Just one game against backups and backup to backups but a nice start for Browns rookies who, mostly, won’t be big contributors this season anyway.
What were your biggest takeaways on the Browns draft picks?