2018 – RB Nick Chubb (Round 2: 3, 35th overall)
This was actually really hard to pick. Firstly, you have Denzel Ward who had a really great rookie season. Sure, he took a step back in season two but he’s on a good trajectory. Then there’s starting quarterback Baker Mayfield. The only quarterback in Browns’ history since 1981 to throw 20 touchdowns in back to back seasons. Easily the most talented signal-caller since Brian Sipe.
Yet, the pick had to be running back Nick Chubb. Chubb, a Pro Bowler, has 2,490 yards in just two seasons. He has a career average of 5.1 yards a carry and will be the focal point of the offense in 2020. He’s not the best running back in the NFL, as he’s not very versatile, but you could argue he’s third behind the Giants’ Saquon Barkley and the Panthers’ Christian McCaffery (who are #2 and #1 respectively). Chubb’s utter dominance in 2019 made him the pick but Mayfield could easily supplant him if he has another strong year in 2020. While yes, he had a down year in 2019, he still had the third-best statistical season any Browns quarterback has had since 1999. So let’s avoid saying he had a “bad year”.
He really didn’t. DeShone Kizer had a bad year. That’s what bad play is. Mayfield was just rushed. If you know football you know there’s a difference. For Chubb, however, he looks to be poised for a huge season, with new linemen, a new tight end and a coach who loves his zone blocking, taking over. That should spell doom for defenses who think they can just bully the team again at the line of scrimmage.
Honorable Mention: QB Baker Mayfield
You can’t deny that Mayfield has been great for the Browns. Sure, he’s had some growing pains but he’s also shown a lot of fight and the ability to make plays that a lot of other quarterbacks who’ve put on the orange and brown just couldn’t make. He needs to be more consistent but with a strategy and a head coach who sticks to the game plan, he may just be able to blossom and become the Pro Bowler we all thought he could be.