When a team wins only one out of 16 possible games, do not expect much respect from the national media when it comes to selecting the Top 100 players in the NFL. On average, each NFL team should have three such players, but the Browns should feel fortunate to have two named, according to CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco. Both left tackle Joe Thomas (No. 12) and linebacker Jamie Collins (No. 87) were among his list.
No. 12 – LT Joe Thomas – He remains a rock at left tackle for the Browns, one of the best in the league and a potential Hall player down the road. He’s much better in pass protection than as a run blocker.
No. 87 – LB Jamie Collins – He had a tendency to get out of position in New England, so the Patriots traded him and his great athletic talents to the Browns last year. In Cleveland, he again showed that he could be a top-tier run-and-chase linebacker.
Since the moment he was drafted by the Browns with the third-overall pick in 2007, Thomas has been a member of the Browns. Through both ups and downs (with the majority of days going in the wrong direction), he has continued to be a positive influence. He has yet to register a snap during the NFL playoffs, but hasn’t missed one in the regular season. Whether it’s saying that he wants to remain in Cleveland his entire career (especially after they hired head coach Hue Jackson) or wanting to continually be part of the rebuilding process, Thomas is a true veteran. Although his Twitter account might even be better than the product on the field. Surprisingly, Prisco ranked the 32-year-old 25th last year, so Thomas jumped up 13 spots following the 2016 season. Keep in mind, Pro Football Focus just named him at No. 27 heading into the upcoming season. The future Hall of Fame player continues to be a blessing for the Browns.
When the Browns acquired Collins from the Patriots, he immediately became one of the best players on his new team’s defense. New England gave him away, but he gave the Browns some hope. Considered one of the best in the league, the 27-year-old will help lead defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ defense to bigger and better things going forward. In his abbreviated 2016 season in Cleveland, he totaled 69 tackles and one forced fumble in eight games.
The Browns still need to upgrade their barren roster, but at least they have both Thomas and Collins to build around going forward. Add in the rookies and the young talent they are developing, and there is reason for some optimism about creating a competitive foundation in 2017.