ABOUT BAKER MAYFIELD
The NFL Draft is coming, and the Browns were talking quarterbacks.
But it’s such a different discussion. I thought about that when GM Andrew Berry was announcing the Browns have picked up Baker Mayfield’s contract option for 2022.
Not 2021, but 2022.
It was a given. Sign up for the $18.9 million. Under control for two more seasons. They also will try to sign him to an even longer extension at some point.
Timeout for a few names: Robert Griffin III, Josh McCown and Cody Kessler.
That was the Browns’ QB room in 2016.
A few more names: Johnny Manziel, Austin Davis and McCown.
That was the QB room in 2015.
Ah, the memories…
DeShone Kizer, Kevin Hogan and Kessler.
That was the QB room in 2017.
You can go back…decades…if you long to see names such as Brandon Weeden, Colt McCoy, Thad Lewis and Seneca Wallace in print. I’m stopping there.
That’s why it’s just a sense of relief to know at the very least, the Browns have a QB in Mayfield who can win games and lead them to the playoffs.
This is not to turn Mayfield into a superstar. But it is to give him credit for not only surviving four head coaches (and three different offenses) in three seasons – but also thriving under new head coach Kevin Stefanski.
And that’s another reason for Browns fans to exhale.
Your team has a coach/QB combination that turned in an 11-5 record.
It wasn’t all Mayfield. The Browns are loaded with talent on offense. But the coach/QB have to make it work.
A LITTLE CREDIT TO JOHN DORSEY
He’s gone now, but former GM John Dorsey deserves credit for picking Mayfield, Denzel Ward and Nick Chubb in that 2018 draft. Ward’s 2022 option also was picked up..
Because Chubb was a second-round pick in 2018, he doesn’t qualify for a 2022 option. He’s a free agent at the end of the 2021 season, and the Browns are trying to sign him to an extension.
You can correctly argue former GM Sashi Brown and current Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta made the moves (including losing) that led to those high picks.
But Dorsey had to make the right selections, just as some of his other deals led to Jarvis Landry, Kareem Hunt, Wyatt Teller and Odell Beckham Jr.
Berry also was part of the front office in 2016-18. He went to Philadelphia as assistant GM in 2019, then returned to Cleveland to replace Dorsey in 2020. That coincided with the rise of DePodesta’s influence, and the combining of Stefanski and Berry.
A good QB and a front office/coaching staff in “alignment.” Not sure I’d ever see that in Berea.
BERRY’S FIRST DRAFT
There is reason for faith in Berry as the 2021 draft approaches because he did exactly what was needed a year ago.
The Browns had to find a left tackle, not an easy position to fill with a rookie. Berry and his staff settled on Jedrick Wills Jr., a right tackle at Alabama. They said they had him their No. 1 tackle on their draft board.
They relied on legendary offensive line coach Bill Callahan, who believed Wills could make the switch from right tackle to the more demanding left side of the offensive line.
Wills did it, solidifying the line. Berry’s other big move was signing free-agent right tackle Jack Conklin.
The rest of the 2020 draft is under Wait & See…
1. Can second-rounder Grant Delpit come back from Achilles surgery and take over as a starting safety, as was planned?
2. Can third-rounders Jacob Phillips (linebacker) and Jordan Elliott (defensive tackle) take advantage of playing time that should be available to them in 2021?
3. Can fourth-rounder Harrison Bryant bloom as a pass-catching tight end? He showed promise in that area at times in 2020.
4. Can sixth-rounder Donovan Peoples-Jones develop into a deep-threat receiver? I like his chances. Fifth-rounder Nick Harris showed enough in 2020 to be considered a solid backup at center and guard in 2021.
When it comes to this draft, there is no immediate urgency for the Browns to find what Berry called, “a cure-all player.”
The secondary still is a worry, especially the depth at cornerback. The Browns can use more speed at linebacker and talent on the line.
But don’t be surprised if the Browns draft some players on offense, despite that side of the ball seemingly set for 2021.
“Your needs today are not the same as your needs tomorrow,” Berry said, quoting his mentor, former Colts GM Bill Polian. “I’ve definitely found that to be true throughout my football career.”
That’s not just predraft talk. It’s what Berry believes and why he picked Harris (center) and Bryant (tight end) a year ago even though the Browns had talent at those positions.
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