Monday, April 29, 2019

Draft scraps

Lost in the afterglow of how the Browns drafted is what the rest of the AFC North did last weekend in the annual National Football League college lottery. The division got stronger.

The defending champion Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals all had strong showings, arguably better than the Browns, who nevertheless remain favored to win their first division title since the return in 1999.

The Ravens provided second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson with some new weapons; the Steelers made moves attempting to replace Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and Ryan Shazier; and the Bengals made significant improvement along the offensive line.

Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin beefed up a Ravens wide receivers corps that lacked serious speed last season, and Justice Hill joins free agent signee Mark Ingram Jr. to form a much stronger offensive backfield.

The Steelers jumped up to No. 10 to grab Michigan linebacker Devin Bush, who will be plugged into the hole created by the unfortunate injury to Shazier; MAC receiver Diontae Johnson was taken to replace Brown, another MAC receiver; and Benny Snell, a running back, has already ingratiated himself by requesting to wear Bell’s old No. 26.

The Steelers also snatched cornerback Justin Layne, a Clevelander (Benedictine High School) who should have been drafted by the Browns, three selections after Cleveland took Sione Takitaki in round three.

The Bengals, who can’t do any worse than last season’s basement finish, improved their offensive line with tackle Jonah Williams and center/guard Michael Jordan from Ohio State. Linebacker Germaine Pratt and tackle Renell Wren upgrade the defense.

It’s entirely possible the AFC North will be one of the strongest and most competitive divisions in the entire NFL this season after some wise drafting by the aforementioned trio of teams.
*       *       *
John Dorsey really meant it when during the pre-draft meeting he had with the media said, “You can’t have enough cornerbacks on your team to move this thing.” Seeing is believing.

The Browns currently list 11 cornerbacks and six safeties on the roster, numbers that are likely to increase when the general manager fills out the roster by the time training camp rolls around.
*       *       *
Third-round picks continue to confound Dorsey since arriving in Cleveland. The man who took Kareem Hunt in the third round while GM of the Kansas City Chiefs a few years ago drafted defensive end Chad Thomas and Takitaki in that round the last two Browns drafts.

Thomas hardly saw the field last season, but the Dorsey remains confident the pick will pay off. “I think Chad is a very talented football player,” he said. “Usually, guys in their second year make exponential strides and growth.

“I see him getting a lot of playing time this year. I can see him getting some rotational playing time and really developing into a really good football player.” Worth keeping an eye on, especially with the Olivier Vernon trade with New York.
*       *       *
Among the attributes that attracted the Browns to Takitaki were his motor, his explosive hitting, his speed and the fact he runs around a lot. Sounds undisciplined to me. The converted defensive end is just learning how to play linebacker.
*       *       *
From the department of “wish I hadn’t said that” (future edition) come these gems from new Browns cornerback Greedy Williams after the Browns drafted him in round two Friday night:

“I know one thing: The Browns are going to the Super Bowl this year.  That’s a fact.” And: “John Dorsey has done a great job of getting the right guys in the right positions. I feel like this team will be the Super Bowl champs this year.” Then: “This team will be the Super Bowl champs. We’re going through the whole league, We’re definitely making the Super Bowl.” And finally: Omigod. Me and Denzel (Ward), we are going to tear up the league.”

The last time we heard “tear up the league,” it was uttered by Johnny Manziel all those years ago and we all saw how that turned out.
*       *       *
Duke Johnson Jr. is not an ex-Brown yet, having survived draft weekend. The guess here is the Browns will hang on to him until Hunt comes off the suspended list for the final eight games of the season.
*       *       *
What attracted Dorsey to kicker Austin Seibert in the fifth round? It certainly couldn’t have been the four field goals (in nine attempts) between the 40 and 49 the last three years. Or his one-for-three in 50-yards plus attempts.

The young man is nails from 45 yards in. But this is the NFL, where field goals from 50-plus yards are expected. Seibert was a much better punter at Oklahoma.
*       *       *
Finally . . . Dorsey must be satisfied with his defensive front, passing on a defensive lineman in the draft. Ditto the wide receivers. . . . Ten trades were consummated in the draft’s second round. . . . With draft choices like Sheldrick Redwine and Sione Takitaki, wondering why the Browns didn’t draft Nebraska running back Devine Ozigbo or sign him as a free agent. . . . The Westgate Super Book in Las Vegas predicts the Browns won’t make the playoffs for the 17th season in a row. Tempted to take that bet.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Grading the Browns’ 2019 draft

 Time once again to take a deep dive into that annual exercise that frustrates the hell out of professional football fans throughout the nation. It is known commonly as the way-too-early grading of the National Football League college draft.

How in the world can all the so-called experts come to a definitive conclusion about the results of a draft when the players haven’t even suited up with their respective teams?

They can’t, of course. But that doesn’t mean they can’t venture opinions based on what they have seen from these players at the collegiate level. As long as they have the pulpit, what’s the problem?

Let’s be honest here. Fans themselves grade these drafts, too, and the only reason they dispute a particular expert’s grade is because they are not in agreement.

Why is it done every year? Because it’s fun to speculate and then look back in two or three years, when the drafts can be graded more accurately, and see how right or wrong they were.

Of course early grades should not be taken too seriously. It provides fans with good argument material, sustaining NFL talk until minicamps, training camps and then the regular season.

The draft grade gamut varies from year to year. The gamut this year for the Browns’ draft runs from a solid A to a C-, which proves once again that one man’s filet mignon is another man’s hamburger. It works that way every year.

The general consensus of the Browns’ draft last year was a shaky B. Turned out, at least after the first year, to be a strong A after General Manager John Dorsey a semi miraculously completely changed the culture of the franchise.

Five of his picks wound up either starting or playing a major role and a sixth has moved up and will start this season. Their contributions were vital in the club smashing numerous losing streaks and winding up a respectable (for them) 7-8-1.

The Rant, wiping egg off its face all season long and with apologies to Dorsey and the great job he did, gave it a C+. A C+!! Yikes!! Well, when you’re wrong, might as well go big.

And that, finally, brings us to this year’s Browns grade. The landscape this year was quite different. No first-round pick. No top-of-the-round selections. Clearly a tougher time than last year for Dorsey and his crew.

The Browns wound up with seven picks, five of them on the defensive side of the football. Of those seven, only two have a shot at becoming starters – second-round cornerback Greedy Williams and fifth-round inside linebacker Mack Wilson.

Williams, who carried a first-round grade from many draft experts, was a surprise name on the board midway through the second round. He is expected to get the starting nod opposite Denzel Ward in the secondary.

Wilson, who carried a second-round grade by some and should have been the third-round choice instead of Sione Takitaki, will be given the opportunity to take the middle linebacker job away from Joe Schobert.

Of the first five selections, Takitaki, fourth-round safety Sheldrick Redwine and round-five placekicker Austin Seibert were clearly reaches. It’s hard to believe they were the best players on the board at the time of their selection.

Takitaki and Redwine, who most likely be included in certain sub packages by defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, were projected to go lower in the lottery.

Seibert, on the other hand, is being brought in to challenge incumbent Greg Joseph, who had an uneven rookie season after replacing Zane Gonzalez. I graduated from the school that says you don’t draft a kicker or punter before round seven, and fifth was way, way, way too high for Seibert.

Rounding out the class are sixth-round tackle/guard Drew Forbes, the lone offensive player chosen, and cornerback Donnie Lewis Jr., both of whom probably will wind up on the practice squad should they fail to make the final 53.

The selections of Williams and Wilson (A- and B+, respectively) have saved this draft in terms of starters. The others fall well short of warranting a high grade and their contributions will be relatively minimal.

If, however, it was Dorsey’s intention to strengthen the special teams and beef up positional depth, mission accomplished. But rarely is drafting in the NFL designed specifically for special teams.

I’m having no problems getting excited about the upcoming season. None whatsoever.  But I can’t get excited about what Dorsey accomplished this past weekend.

Final draft grade for 2019: C+ (yep, another C+, but I have a much better chance of being correct with this one)

Saturday, April 27, 2019

It’s the defense, dummy

 If there was any doubt which side of the football John Dorsey would address in the 2019 National Football League college draft this weekend, it was answered loudly in the seven-man class.

Having taken care of the offensive side of the football last season to the point where the Browns became a scary team in the second half of the 2018 season, defense was the major target this year for the club’s general manager.

Five members of the newest class, including the first four selections, will play under the watchful eye of new defensive coordinator Steve Wilks and his staff.

Cornerbacks Greedy Williams, the club’s first pick of the lottery in the second round Thursday, and Donnie Lewis Jr., the final pick in the seventh round Saturday, join safety Sheldrick Redwine, a fourth-rounder, in the secondary.

Inside linebacker Mack Wilson, arguably Dorsey’s best pick (the first of two round-five selections) of this draft, joins fellow backer Sione Takitaki (third round) in an effort to strengthen the club’s weakest area on that side of the ball.

Placekicker/punter Austin Seibert (the other fifth rounder) and offensive tackle Drew Forbes (sixth round) round out the class, which strains to register on the scale of well-known candidates.

Williams, one of the highest rated corners this year, skidded surprisingly halfway through the second round, falling into the Browns’ lap for reasons that have not been verified. His selection was a no-brainer for Dorsey.

Redwine, who is comfortable playing corner, either safety or in the slot, became an obvious choice for those reasons. That versatility should play well in the many and varied Wilks schemes.

Lewis, if he makes the club, most likely will collect his paycheck through special teams work due to a very crowded secondary field.

When Takitaki was selected in round three, my first reaction was who is this guy? My second was Mack Wilson was still on the board and had a third-round grade while at least one NFL scout projected Takitaki for free agency.

In the end, it turned out Dorsey got it fright, just backward. It took him two extra rounds to realize it. Wilson, who played well for coach Nick Saban at Alabama, for some reason was still around in round five and the GM didn’t hesitate.

Anyone who plays full-time for Saban is well prepared to make a successful transition to the next level. One draft guru compared Wilson to another Saban alumnus, inside linebacker C. J. Mosley, who tortured the Browns for five seasons with Baltimore before moving on to the New York Jets.

Don’t be shocked if Wilson, who once proclaimed himself, via Twitter, “THE best linebacker in the country,” beats out Joe Schobert for the starting role at middle linebacker. He is a stronger tackler and is not a stranger at dropping back into pass coverage.

Wilson, whose real first name is Lyndell, is an absolute steal, much like linebacker Genard Avery was in the fifth round of last year’s draft.

Takitaki, meanwhile, probably will play predominantly on special teams, where his aggressive nature will pay dividends. It’s that hell-bent nature that enabled assistant GM Eliot Wolf to successfully persuade Dorsey to take him way too early.

Forbes, who played left tackle at Southeast Missouri State, is projected as a guard in the NFL and a long shot, at best, to make the final cut since Dorsey loaded up the offensive line room with several veteran free agents during the offseason.

Drafting Seibert, who kicked many an extra point following a Baker Mayfield scoring pass or run at Oklahoma, is a Dorsey warning shot that incumbent kicker Greg Joseph shouldn’t get too comfortable.

Sunday: The final (for now) grade of this draft.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Mixed second day at the draft

John Dorsey covered himself with glory with his first college draft as Browns general manager last year. He hit what amounted to a grand slam.

That definitely will not be the case this year. Far from it, in fact.

Baker Mayfield, Denzel Ward, Nick Chubb, Genard Avery and Antonio Callaway became either starters or major contributors in 2018.

Based on his selections Friday night in rounds two and three of this year’s lottery, Dorsey will be fortunate to wind up with one starter and/or major contributor after sitting out round one Thursday night..

The selections of cornerback Greedy Williams in the second round and linebacker Sione Takitaki in round three did not exactly send Browns Nation into waves of ecstasy, especially the latter pick.

Williams has a major flaw that tempers the selection. Thought by many draft gurus to be one of the best cover corners in the draft, he has an allergy to tackling. The Browns can ill afford another poor tackler. That facet the defense plagued the team all last season.

“Cornerbacks are paid to cover,” Dorsey told the Cleveland media. Maybe so, but they are also paid to be strong in run support. In the National Football League, cornerbacks are expected to be available in run support. Without it, opposing teams will relentlessly attack the edges all season.

One gets the impression the 6-2, 185-pound Williams – “I like big corners,” Dorsey said – will be automatically plugged in to play opposite Ward, who had trouble tackling in his rookie season and suffered two concussions as a result.

“He is immensely talented,” Dorsey said of the newest member of the Cleveland secondary. “He’s got feet, he’s got hips, he’s got length, he can press, he can play off. Now you just want to see him mature moving forward.

To be successful moving forward, Williams will need to bulk up his lean frame and not only learn how to learn how to tackle, but be willing to do it. It is a mind-set. If he can do that, he could turn out to be as good as another former LSU corner – Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals.

Dorsey, who said he tried several times to move up in round two when he saw corners snapped up, hauled out the we-couldn’t-believe-he-was-there bromide when Williams was still available at 46.

He finally found a trade partner in Indianapolis, surrendering one his three fifth-round choices, to grab the corner from Louisiana State, whose real first name is Andraez.

“I thought he’d be one of the first five guys picked off the board (Friday),” Dorsey said and then congratulated himself. “This is a really good pick, a heck of a pick.”

There was a reason six corners were selected before Williams, five of them at the top of the second round. Dorsey spoke almost as though Williams was the top-ranked player regardless of position on his board when he struck and obviously not in accord with his fellow GMs.

The Takitaki pick, on the other hand, is a head scratcher. Unless I’m way off here, the linebacker from Brigham Young is not well known at all beyond Provo, Utah.

He had a problem with self-discipline at BYU before straightening out his life. He missed one season at school after pleading guilty to misdemeanor theft, according to a story in, and was thrown off the team (only to be reinstated by a team vote) in another.

The 6-1, 240-pounder appears to be a project. Projects are not usually selected in the third round. Hard to believe he sat atop the Browns’ draft board at the time of his selection.

He will probably wind up on special teams, taking advantage of his aggressive approach, and most likely will be a pet project for defensive coordinator Steve Wilks.

Dorsey can make up for his less-than stellar performance (thus far) with four more rounds and five more picks (barring any movement) Saturday with his strong track record of successfully mining the depths of the draft clearly working in his favor.

Considering Dorsey passed on several well-regarded safeties in the draft, it looks as though the Browns plan on going with recent free-agent pickup Morgan Burnett to replace Jabrill Peppers at strong safety.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Pass the No-Doz please

Now wasn’t that fun, Browns fans?

After a three-hour and 41-minute exercise in futility, also known as the first round of the National Football League college draft Thursday night in Nashville, the Browns emerged the same way they entered: twiddling their thumbs.

Surrendering their original first-round pick to the New York in order to lure Odell Beckham away from the New York Giants pretty much rendered the club’s front office silent throughout the evening.

The snoozefest had to upset at least a small portion of Browns Nation hopeful General Manager John Dorsey would somehow, some way trade back into the opening round.

Six deals were struck (all but one in the second half of the round) and yet Trader John either didn’t like what was left on the board or was not persuasive enough to pull something off.

Defense was the biggest winner of the evening, 18 players selected on that side of the ball with the defensive line accounting for 12 of those selections, one of the key areas Dorsey had targeted.

The secondary, another Dorsey target, produced only three selections. Which means there will be a wealth of talent from which to choose when the draft resumes Friday evening with rounds two and three.

Unless he decides to reevaluate what’s left and believes it would be worth trading up from pick 49 (the 17th of the second round), he’ll probably stay put and take the best defensive player on the board regardless of specific position.  

Talents like cornerbacks Bryon Murphy, Greedy Williams, Justin Layne and Amani Oruwariye and safeties Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Nasir Adderley, Deionte Thompson, Taylor Rapp and Juan Thornhill are still there. At least one or two will be there at 49.

A few good offensive linemen are still available (Dalton Risner, Greg Little, Cody Ford and Bobby Evans) if Dorsey chooses to stockpile an area that might require lots of help as early as next season.

The draft started out unpredictably with several surprising selections early on, the Oakland Raiders grabbing defensive end Clelin Ferrell with the fourth pick and the New York Giants taking quarterback Daniel Jones with the sixth ahead of Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, who went to Washington at 15.

As the draft tumbled past the midway point, Browns fans held their breath for Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons. The Dorsey favorite (at least that’s what he said) dropped to 19 before the Tennessee Titans ended that little dream.

All in all, it turned out to be nothing more than a No-Doz sort of evening for fans of this team, not at all used to ending it with what amounted to nothing more than a fruitless and frankly boring chunk of time they can never get back.

If there is any good news to celebrate, at least Dorsey didn’t spoil next year’s first round by including that selection in a deal Thursday night. That’s one good reason to look forward to the opening round in only 365 more days.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Strange draft territory

It’s been a very long time since the Browns entered the annual National Football League college draft without a first-round choice.

It sure looks as though that’s where they are headed as the NFL’s three-day extravaganza kicks off Thursday night in Nashville

The blockbuster deal with the New York Giants a few weeks ago cost them their first-rounder this year (No. 17), the club softening the blow of losing the first rounder by rationalizing the trade, suggesting wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is their first-rounder.

Fans will have to wait until pick #49 in the middle of the second round to welcome the newest member of the club unless General Manager John Dorsey somehow finagles his way back into the first round, which is not out of the realm of possibility given the GM’s fondness for trading.

It will severely test the stamina of Browns Nation to wait tediously through the entire first round, knowing they don’t have a pick, waiting anxiously to see if Dorsey successfully wields his magic wand.

Fans undoubtedly will see several possibilities to jump back in as the lottery unfolds and wonder why Dorsey is not pulling a trigger. The second-guessing is likely to run rampant throughout the night.

If Dorsey is unable to convince a rival general manager to do business, the thrill of celebrating the arrival of the newest Brown will have to wait until the second round Friday night.

If that’s the case, it will be the lowest the Browns have made their initial selection since 2008, when they swapped pick No. 22 and two others in subsequent rounds and wound up picking 104th.

That fourth-round selection was the very forgettable Beau Bell, a linebacker who lasted one season, managed to get into five games and made three tackles. That comprised his entire NFL career.

It has been two decades since the NFL graciously allowed Cleveland to become a member in good standing once again after an undeserved and unwarranted three-year absence.

In that span, the Browns have drafted in the top 10 on 15 occasions and owned a top 15 spot before a trade another two times, a legacy as to just how awful this franchise has been.

Dorsey turned that around about as quickly (13 months) as any NFL general manager in recent memory. His roster magic solidified previous problem areas,, making his job that much easier this season.

With few exceptions, he will target specific areas of need, looking to strengthen the situations at linebacker and the offensive line, as well as the bench and bottom half of the roster.

As the prevarication clouds hover over 76 Lou Groza Blvd in the next 48 hours, all kinds of untruths will be unearthed and dissected. And of course, they are not to be believed.

For what it’s worth, the guess here is the Browns will stay put at 49, running back Duke Johnson Jr. will be dealt for a low-round draft choice and Dorsey will consider mortgaging the future by dangling next year’s No. 1 pick in order to move up, but finally resist.

As he should.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Prime Time Brownies

Question: Are the Browns ready for prime time?

Answers: We’ll find out soon enough, and they had better be.

That’s because the National Football League national television spotlight will shine blazingly on them at least four times this season. And if they pass a severe test early in the campaign, that number conceivably could grow.

The gents and computers who carved out the 2019 season schedule have glommed onto the suddenly very attractive Cleveland Browns and featured them on television nationally three of the first five weeks.

The Browns, who enter this season with hopes of success higher than at any time since the mid-1990s, haven’t played a Monday night game since 2015 or a Sunday night game since way back in 2008. They frankly were not worthy.

The franchise that made the basement of its division a virtual permanent home until last season, the franchise professional football fans have made the butt of jokes for the last two decades has become an overnight sensation.

The reward for the heretofore sad sacks of the NFL? A 16-game schedule unlike any other since the big return in 1999, one that deals a series of severe blows to the circadian rhythms of the players.

Most fans busied themselves with the enjoyment of predicting how the Browns will do when the schedule was unveiled a few days ago. They looked for potential dangerous stretches, soft spots, trap games. You know, the usual.

Overlooked was how this unusual schedule would affect established routines for players and coaches throughout the season.

Most, if not all, players get their bodies ready physically, emotionally and mentally to play games at 1 o’clock local time on most Sundays with perhaps an occasional Thursday night, Sunday night or Monday night game.

Not the Browns this season. Not by a long shot. Their schedule is littered with time inconsistencies the entire season.

Half their games start at 1 local time on a Sunday, but the only time they play consecutive Sunday games at that time is the final two games of the season and even that might get flexed into a later game depending on the importance of the games.

Back-to-back nationally beamed games in weeks two and three, plus a third just two weeks later on the road has to make it difficult on not just the players, but the coaching staff from a preparatory standpoint.

Two of those national games are Monday night affairs on the road (New York and San Francisco after a road game the prior week). It’s hard enough to prepare for games when there is rhythm to a season and the bodies are ready to play those 1 p.m. games, let alone the unevenness of the season.

The Browns get a break for the fourth national TV game, a Thursday-night date at home with Pittsburgh in mid-October. It’s also the middle game of a three-game home stand in the second half of the season.

How the Browns finish this season will depend largely on how well they do in the first eight games, easily the tougher half of the season. They face only one team that made the playoffs (Baltimore) in the second half, five of which are at home.

The harshest stretch by far in the schedule, a four road-game minefield (at Baltimore, San Francisco, New England and Denver) in six weeks (including a bye in week seven), most likely will be a determining factor where the club resides coming down the stretch.

If the Browns emerge with no worse than a 5-3 or 4-4 record, they’ve got a great shot at winning the AFC North. (That feels so strange typing.)

Winning on the road the last several seasons was merely a dream. Last season, though, the Browns were much more competitive, winning twice and having a third unfairly snatched by a terrible call late in the Oakland loss.

The Browns catch another break in the second half of the season, playing five of their remaining eight games against AFC North opponents after running back Kareem Hunt returns to the lineup after serving an eight-game suspension.

Not to be overlooked is the season opener at home against Tennessee, a game that involves one of the last vestiges of disappointments and embarrassments this franchise has endured the last 20 seasons. There is something about season- and home-opening games that seems to elude the Browns’ grasp at emerging victorious.

During that span they are 1-18-1 (1-14-1- at home) in season-opening games, the tie a 21-21 overtime affair last season at home against Pittsburgh, which snapped a 13-game losing skid in season lid lifters. The winless streak stands at 14.

The only victory in that span was a 20-3 beat down of Baltimore in 2004, a season the club finished 4-12. Fourteen of those season-opening 18 losses have been at home.

The last time the Browns and Titans teams met was week seven of the infamous winless season in 2017, the Titans winning, 12-9, in overtime in Cleveland in a touchdown-less game.

A reason to be excited about this season’s opening game? That Browns team was far inferior to this season’s edition.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Worst to first

 It wasn’t long ago – just a couple of years, in fact – that the Browns had arguably the worst set of wide receivers in the National Football League.

They owned that title prior to that for a few long, arduous, mind-numbing seasons as quarterback after quarterback tried to accomplish the impossible: Win football games.

Season after agonizing season for five years, the Browns’ front office failed miserably at fixing the problem. And then along came John Dorsey in the latter stages of the 2017 season.

That, you’ll recall, was the season the Browns reached the nadir of their once-proud history by underwhelming all 16 opponents, a feat accomplished only once before in the annals of the NFL.

In that span, the Browns fielded the likes of Corey Coleman, Ricardo Louis, Jordan Payton, Brian Hartline, Darius Jennings, Marlon Moore, Kasen Williams and Sammie Coates.

In 2016 alone, the Browns (Sashi Brown) selected four receivers in the college draft – Coleman, Louis, Payton and Rashard Higgins – in an effort to strengthen the position, probably figuring quantity should produce some quality.

He figured incorrectly. Only Higgins has survived the last three seasons and his contributions have been relatively minimal.

Those forlorn days of below average to just plain bad wide receivers wearing Seal Brown and Orange are long gone, now. The worm has definitely turned and outsiders have noticed.

Conor Orr of Sports Illustrated has certainly noticed. We’re in just the infant stages of the 2019 season, but that didn’t stop him from ranking the NFL’s best wide receivers corps entering the college draft in a couple of weeks.

After Dorsey somewhat successfully addressed the wide receivers room, the label of “awful” disappeared quickly, helping Baker Mayfield set a league record for touchdown passes by a rookie with 27. The wideouts had 14 of them.

Orr, who delights in listing his pre-draft position rankings, tackled the wide receivers this week on line and, in stunning fashion, ranks your Cleveland Browns as his No. 1 team. This is not a typo.

From abject misery, as recently as two seasons ago, to the pinnacle (at least in the preseason) of the mountain is quite a leap.

With the likes of Jarvis Landry, the recently acquired Odell Beckham Jr., Antonio Callaway and Higgins, Orr justifies his ranking by labeling Landry and Beckham “two of the best talents in the league right now.”

And, he wrote, they will be “playing with a budding star at quarterback (Mayfield), a sought-after offensive coordinator (Todd Monken) and their college position coach (Adam Henry).”

Undoubtedly realizing what he has done – ranking the Browns No. 1 in anything these days is brave in and of itself despite the vast improvement – Orr understands that “I’m going to get killed for this.”

But he at the same time realizes that when he lines up all the wide receivers of the other 31 teams, none can, at least on paper, match what the Browns are capable of doing, especially after what they accomplished in the last of half of the 2018 season.

The astonishing climb from worst to first for this position subtly suggests Dorsey is more than likely to concentrate on other positions on the roster come draft time. This one for the time being is set.

All of which, of course, ramps up the pressure to justify the ranking. That’s a story line that will be closely watched throughout the coming season.