It might just be the "Week 1 is almost here" excitement, but I don't think that's all it is. I'm genuinely feeling like this is the best Cleveland Browns roster we've seen in a very long time.
We've maybe had more star power, or more splashy top-end acquisitions, but we've never had this much genuine depth. Andrew Berry nailed it this offseason, bringing in multiple free agents to address every need, and doing it without handing out any unwieldy contracts.
That has left the Browns with an incredibly deep roster, featuring a ton of young talent. But who stands out above the rest?
Here are the Browns' top 15 players ranked ahead of the 2023 season.
15 Best Browns Players Ranked for 2023
15. Martin Emerson
The Browns didn't pick until the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft last year because of a pair of trades (acquiring Deshaun Watson with the first-rounder and moving down from the second-rounder), but they nabbed a high-quality starter with the first pick anyway.
Martin Emerson may not have officially been credited as a starter from the jump, but he played a snap rate on defence north of 70% in each of his first three games, so the lack of “starter” title didn’t mean much.
He played a big role from the jump, and he played it well. Pro Football Focus gave him coverage grades and overall grades north of 70.0 in each of his first two games, and by season's end he had earned marks of 75.1 and 72.5, respectively. Those were good for the third-highest (coverage) and fifth-highest (overall) grades on the Browns defense.
Not bad for a rookie.
I'm not even playing the "rank him based on how good I project him to be" game here. The 22-year-old has probably made big strides since his rookie year, and that's going to earn him a much higher spot on the list. But already checking in at No. 15 just based on what he's shown us so far is nothing to scoff at for a third-round pick entering his second NFL season.
14. Shelby Harris
Shelby Harris goes in the opposite direction of Emerson a bit. As a 32-year-old who is learning a new defense, there's no guaranteeing that Harris will hit the ground running and be as good as we've seen in the past. But what we've seen in the past is certainly pretty promising.
A great interior pass-rush threat, Harris has 5.5 or more sacks in three of his last six seasons, and he set his career-high mark of 11 QB hits in two of the last three. But that wasn't even his biggest strength last year.
Where Harris really stood out in 2022 was in his run defense, ranking out as the Seahwks' best run defender in the box.
That versatility makes him very valuable in this defense. He can play alongside Dalvin Tomlinson on early downs and short-yardage situations, giving the Browns a pretty stout brick wall in the middle. But he can also continue to bring big value on passing downs.
With more edge rushing talent up front than ever, we could see Jim Schwartz get creative with moving some of those EDGEs around. And having someone with the size and strength that Harris possesses to collapse the pocket when he's being blocked 1-on-1 should really make those pass-rush lanes a lot easier to hit for the athletic rushers around him.
Harris is a plus talent, and a plus scheme fit to boot.