The Cleveland Browns ended their offseason program on June 15. Here's a look at how they fared:
Offseason goals/grade: The Browns stabilized several positions in free agency and the draft. They bolstered the offensive line in free agency, added three players in the first round of the draft and quarterback DeShone Kizer in the second, and filled in needs here and there with some other smart additions. The biggest problem, which Hue Jackson admitted as minicamp wound down: The Browns did not land the franchise quarterback they need in the first round or via free agency. However, they gave themselves a chance when they took Kizer, and given the options this offseason that's as sound a risk as any they could take. These moves won't lead to double-digit wins in 2016, but they do lay a foundation for future success once the quarterback is found and in place. Even without the quarterback, this was a good offseason for a team that needed one. Grade: B+
Move I liked: The drafting of Kizer in Round 2 gave the Browns a quarterback with a great arm, size and talent. But by not taking him in Round 1, the Browns ratcheted back the expectations and pressure on the young passer. Kizer can learn and grow at his pace. His selection brought a new and better feel to the entire draft. And his ability led quarterbacks coach David Lee to say: "He has an extremely strong arm, and if we can get his fundamentals and his lower body good, you don't touch his release. He has one of the most beautiful releases and whip in his arm. He has to learn the offense. He has a lot in front of him. It is different. He is not playing [in college] anymore. It is a different schedule. He is going through a lot right now and his head is swimming, but boy when he gets it and he gets the lower body, he has a chance to be special.” Adding someone with that chance adds someone who can potentially help for years.
Move I didn't like: It's tough to see an easy or evident solution to the problem, but the Browns left themselves needy at the receiver position. Terrelle Pryor's departure for Washington was offset by the signing of Kenny Britt. But Corey Coleman's injury issues in the offseason are a concern, and his play has to improve from an uneven rookie season. Coleman is at the point where it's not unfair to wonder if he has the requisite skills and savvy to play in an NFL offense that requires far more of him than Baylor's did. The Browns have to hope that one of the young group that they drafted after Coleman can play. The most likely candidate: Ricardo Louis, who acted and spoke with increased confidence and commitment, and seems like a different player his second season. Now he has to do it on the field.
Biggest question still to be answered in training camp: Same as ever: Who's the starting quarterback? And Jackson admitted that when assessing the overall team; he said he saw growth from a year ago in a few areas, but lamented the constant need to ask the identity of the quarterback. The Browns will choose between Cody Kessler, Brock Osweiler or Kizer. Kessler is the safe choice given his year of experience with the team. Osweiler was a pleasant surprise in the offseason. Kizer looked very good at times, not so good at others -- but as the offseason progressed he did improve. The best scnenario for the Browns would be for Kizer to seize the job in preseason. They then could play him as a rookie and he could go through the rookie growing pains the way Carson Wentz did a year ago. But a lot has to happen for that scenario to come together. Jackson and Lee both said that Kizer is not ready to play in a game.
Salary-cap space: $59,800,147 (source: Overthecap.com)
2018 draft picks: 1. DE Myles Garrett 2. S Jabrill Peppers 3. TE David Njoku. 4. QB DeShone Kizer 5. DL Larry Ogunjobi 6. CB Howard Wilson 7. OT Roderick Johnson 8. DL Caleb Brantley 9. PK Zane Gonzelez 10. RB Matthew Dayes
Undrafted rookie free agents signed: LB B.J. Bello, LB Ladell Fleming, DB J.D. Harmon, DB Alvin Hill, DL Jamal Marcus, TE Taylor McNamara, DB Najee Murray, DB Kai Nacua, LB Kenneth Olugbode, DL Karter Schult, DB Channing Stribling.