The Cleveland Browns finished off their 2018 season with a 7-8-1 record. The season had its ups and downs, but overall it was a productive year that has raised hopes for the franchise going forward. Freddie Kitchens is now the head coach of the Browns and this offseason should have a lot different feel to it because of the success the team felt this season. But, before we get to the offseason, let’s go over what transpired this past season in our final report cards. We begin the final grading season with the quarterback position.
Overall Grade: B+
Baker Mayfield: B+
Tyrod Taylor: C-
Drew Stanton: INC
Top Grade: Baker Mayfield
The Browns have their franchise quarterback. Mayfield had a great rookie season that saw him break the rookie touchdown pass record and lead the Browns into a late-season long-shot playoff chase. Mayfield showed the talent that earned him the No. 1 pick billing. He showed great accuracy and arm talent to be an elite quarterback. As a leader, his energy on the field seemed to lead the team even as a rookie quarterback. Cleveland, we have our guy.
Biggest Strength: Starting Quarterback
The biggest strength at the quarterback position is starting quarterback Baker Mayfield. Since 1999, the Browns have been looking for a starting quarterback who they can lean on for years to come and for someone who can lead the franchise to a Super Bowl. Well, Mayfield is that man. He showed in a rookie season that he has the elite starting quarterback qualities and leadership qualities to be the face of the franchise. The Browns are set at the starting quarterback spot.
Biggest Need: Backup Quarterback
Tyrod Taylor is a good backup quarterback, but he will likely leave in free agency to try and find a situation where he can compete for a starting job. So, this leaves the backup quarterback spot open on the Browns roster. Drew Stanton is a better coach than a player, so I would not rest my backup plans on him. The Browns will likely look in free agency to find a veteran quarterback who can backup Mayfield and is someone who the Browns can trust on the field if they need him.
2019 NFL Draft Priority: Low
The Browns could take a flier on a late round quarterback to develop, but the need is not even close to a priority.
2019 Free Agency Priority: Low
The priority to find a quarterback in free agency is a bit higher in free agency due to the need to find a veteran backup quarterback. But, it is still not a top priority this offseason. Some of the top choices for the backup quarterback spot are Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Geno Smith.1
The Cleveland Browns finally have their answer at quarterback and for the first time in a long time, the Browns are not looking during the offseason for an answer at this position. Mayfield was really good in his rookie season, showing all the talent and qualities that many believed he had to be a top tier NFL quarterback. He made throws that many in the NFL cannot make and showed the leadership that you want in your quarterback. Mayfield’s presence on the team not only uplifted the roster, but also the fanbase and the city of Cleveland. The Browns’ expectations for next year and beyond are largely based on the talent of Mayfield and what he showed in Year 1. I believe the Browns have their starting quarterback who can take the team to a Super Bowl. The only real question mark at this position is who will be the backup quarterback. What a stark contrast to what we have usually been asking in past offseasons.