The Cleveland Browns have Super Bowl aspirations but where do they rank among teams heading into 2023?
Credit where credit is due, but the Cleveland Browns have done an admiral job turning over the roster at three key position groups this offseason. And all on a shoestring budget no less. The team reworked the safties, receivers, and defensive line all in one off-season. Are they going to be improved for 2023? Who knows, that’s why you play the games, but the fact they’ve done as much work as they have should be commended. At least for now.
But is this a Top 10 team at this point in the offseason? Sure, there’s still time for the Browns to make a few more moves, if they want, after all, they did just land Za’Darius Smith just three weeks ago. So it’s not like the team can’t still make moves even though we’re into June. Plus, with the release of DeAndre Hopkins, the Browns may even get a little bit more impressive if the team can somehow land the former multi-time Pro Bowl receiver.
But with all the moves they’ve made both in the draft, free agency pool, and trade market, is this a Top 10 roster in the league? Well, now according to the folks at ESPN.
The Cleveland Browns just miss the Top 10 on ESPN’s Best Rosters list
ESPN listed the Cleveland Browns at No. 11 on their list of the best rosters heading into the regular season. And while that may seem pretty good, after all, there are 32 teams in the league, ESPN’s review of the roster as is can be described as “biting”. The evaluation points out that while the squad is good, it used to be better, saying (via Browns Wire);
"A few years ago this group could have challenged for the No. 1 spot in these rankings. But after Watson played so poorly in his return to football in 2022, posting a Total QBR of 38.0, it’s fair to wonder whether he holds the rest of the players on this list back going into 2023. If he gets back to his Houston level of play, Cleveland would fly up the list."
And honestly, they’re not wrong. The Browns don’t know what Deshaun Watson is going to be in 2023, and how could they? How many NFL All-Pro quarterbacks spent nearly two full seasons on the sideline and then came back and were as good, if not better than they were? I can’t think of any, so there are clearly some obstacles that this team has to clear.
Then of course there’s the new talent on the roster. Andrew Berry isn’t exactly known for his big swings paying off, so there’s a chance that the team isn’t actually better despite the off-season changes. So while Berry deserves credit for making the moves needed to give the team a chance to succeed, we still don’t know if those moves will make the Browns any better, or if they’ll be the same, or heavens forbid, worse.