There is pretty much never a time where you draft a quarterback with the first pick in the draft and don’t center all of your plans around him and maximize his chances of succeeding. I don’t think I have to make the sales pitch for what the position is quite easily the most important in the game today, and why if you don’t have a good starter, it’s almost impossible to win a Super Bowl.
With the Cleveland Browns having seemingly filled out an overall pretty strong starting lineup, even strengthening a couple of the holes that existed from last season’s roster that had offseason pundits talking up their Super Bowl chances, they are hoping to avoid another disappointment like 2019, when they took a step back from the year before, going from 7-9-1 to 6-10.
So much of that depends on how Baker Mayfield plays. The 2018 first-overall pick took a step backward last season, and threw nearly as many interceptions as touchdowns. The offensive line had its clear weaknesses, but they were strong at the skill positions.
Now the Browns have reinforced the line with two new tackles, added to the tight end and wide receiver positions, and, frankly, got rid of the bumbling Freddie Kitchens, replacing him with the more even-keeled Kevin Stefanski at head coach.
“I can assure you there’s nobody who’s more focused and determined to put last year behind him and take a step forward than him”, new team general manager Andrew Berry said of a hungry Baker Mayfield entering his third season.
“We’re excited about the environment that we’ve created around that position and around that room in general”, he went on, “and we really do expect him to have a fantastic year. I know Kevin and the staff have done a really nice job with the virtual offseason so far, implementing the new system and we think that he’ll be able to thrive in it this season”.
No doubt, the offensive line was an issue, as mentioned. They traded Pro Bowl guard Kevin Zeitler in 2019, but though they haven’t exactly filled that hole, they did sign Pro Bowl tackle Jack Conklin to replaced Chris Hubbard at right tackle, and first-round pick Jordan Wills is going to slide right into a vacant left tackle spot.
After years and years of passing up quarterback prospects, the Browns finally took the bat off their shoulder to get the Oklahoma kid two years ago. It looked to be the smart move during his rookie season, but history has a memory spanning longer than 12 months. As goes without saying, his legacy will be defined by what comes next.