John Dorsey’s Cleveland Browns are beginning to take shape as he enters his second full season on the job, and one of his primary tools of building his roster to date has been through trades. He used that in a major way yesterday by acquiring New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., widely regarded as one of the top players at his position in the NFL.
He will pair with Jarvis Landry, whom they acquired via trade a year ago after the Miami Dolphins placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on him. Beckham commanded a prince’s ransom (not quite a king’s) in the form of first- and third-round picks and a two-year former first-round pick starter at safety in Jabrill Peppers, but the focus right now is building talent around second-year quarterback Baker Mayfield.
The pairing of Landry and Beckham is interesting because, as anybody who knows anything about them knows, they are very close friends going back to their time together at LSU. What’s more, the Browns’ wide receiver coach is Adam Henry, who was the wide receivers coach at LSU from 2012 to 2014, so he coached them for their final two collegiate seasons.
Both players have big personalities, but presumably will work well together in a complementary fashion. Landry seems to be the more grounded one of the two, who can perhaps help to reel in Beckham should things not go his way, but the truth is that he has been on better behavior than in the past, so perhaps he has matured.
The two should scheme well together, with Beckham’s ability to stretch the defense playing into Landry’s slot role, which he should be able to commit to full-time in 2019 following the moves the Browns have made. Both of them are among the best at their positions in forcing missed tackles as well.
As painful as it is to say, Cleveland has the makings of a very good and complete offense, with all of their starters already in place, including very successful 2018 rookie running back Nick Chubb and 2017 first-round pick David Njoku.
Of course all of this hinges on the continued progress of Mayfield as a quarterback and of Freddie Kitchens as the leader of not just an offense but an entire team. It was his playcalling that led the Browns to a 5-3 finish, and he will retain those duties, but now he is responsible for everything that goes on.
The Browns are suddenly a team with a lot of talent, and a lot of swagger, but also a lot of volatility. These are now players who are hungry and believe in themselves and each other. If things should go south, we could see some ugliness.