Cleveland Browns go Baker (Mayfield) or bust

Quarterback Baker Mayfield, who won the 2017 Heisman Trophy, was selected as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman for News4usonline

A Heisman Trophy winner. A shutdown defensive back. A punishing runner who can kick on the speed jets anytime he needs to. The Cleveland Browns are hoping that they got this NFL Draft thing right this time. If not, head coach Hue Jackson will be shown the door, probably quicker than later.

Jackson and the Browns are now officially on the clock. Last year, Cleveland fans wen through their “Aint” stage as they suffered through a winless (0-16) record. Jackson, going through a myriad of quarterbacks, finally rested the success of the team on the shoulders of rookie DeShone Kizer, who played like he should have stayed in college for another year to work on his mechanics.

Jackson and the Browns have bought two years of excuses why they have not been able to produce victories. Just a year prior to last season’s debacle, the Browns claimed just one win.

Now that they’ve added Myles Garrett, the heralded defensive pick they selected in last year’s NFL Draft first round, now that they’ve picked up their second Heisman Trophy winner in the last four years (Johnny Manziel), and now that they’ve brought in a pair of running back studs in Carlos Hyde and Nick Chubb, the excuse bandwagon to winning football games have left the building.

Georgia running back Nick Chubb (27) runs for a 50-yard touchdown run against Oklahoma during the Bulldogs; 54-48 win in the Rose Bowl Game. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman for News4usonline

That’s gone bye-bye. Like they did when they picked Manziel, the Browns wanted to make a big splash in this year’s draft. The Browns want everyone in the room know they’re smarter than everyone else. Picking Baker Mayfield, the former Oklahoma Sooners quarterback as the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft is indeed a big splash.

After going through the likes of Kevin Hogan, Cody Kessler, Robert Griffin III, and Kizer operating under center the past two years, it seemed like the Browns were bent on getting another size-challenged, super confident signal-caller whose brashness would be swallowed up with enthusiasm by the fan base.

The Browns are hoping like heck that Mayfield answer the challenge to make their day and become the face of their franchise for years to come. Well, they had better be right. Failure or systemic incompetence is no longer an option on the table for Jackson and the Browns. At this point, there’s no real wiggle room at the bottom where they can go. The only place the Browns can go is up.

Getting six wins in the 2018 NFL season would be a milestone. But if you look at what the Browns have done the last two seasons in stacking their chips with draft picks and acquiring free agents (Carlos Hyde, quarterback Tyrod Taylor), along with bringing back star wide receiver John Gordon, on paper, Cleveland should be able to find some success in the AFC North Division.

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) tries to get out of harm’s way against Georgia during the 2018 Rose Bowl Game. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman for News4usonline

But the AFC North is not the Big 12 Conference, where Mayfield was running around the pocket, flinging the football and generating headlines with unkind gestures. The AFC North, with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals roaming the division, is referenced as the blue, busted and bruise division. Cockiness doesn’t mean squat if you’re lying on your back.

Which is probably why the Browns have added enough firepower on both sides of the ball to back up Mayfield. Let’s start with Chubb, the former Georgia Bulldogs running back. The Browns have two mean dudes in the backfield in Hyde and Chubb. By being a young buck (rookie), Chubb has enough juice in his legs and wiggle in his steps to help whoever the Browns have at quarterback this season.

In watching Georgia rip apart Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff (CFP) semi-final game played at the Rose Bowl, there was one play in particular that embodies the power and dynamic power that Chubb gives Cleveland’s offensive backfield. On his 50-yard touchdown run against Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl Game, Chubb was met by at least six defenders.

Bouncing off of tackles, Chubb tossed those defenders to the ground and outran everyone else to paydirt. The Browns will have success with this draft pick. In picking up Ohio State defensive back Denzel Ward, the Browns look really solid in getting this playmaker. With Joe Hayden now playing for AFC North enemy Pittsburgh, the Browns was definitely on the hook for a top-notch cornerback.

The Browns secured that need right away, nabbing Ward with the No. 4 overall pick in the draft. The Browns got a player who can lay down some lumber and still become a top-flight press defensive back. Yes, the Cleveland Browns did have other picks in this year’s draft, but the future and immediate success of the team could come down to these three players.

Dennis J. Freeman
About Dennis J. Freeman 1227 Articles
Dennis is a longtime sports, news and entertainment photojournalist. Dennis has covered and written on subjects such as civil rights, politics, and social justice. His work has appeared in various publications across the country. As editor and publisher of News4usonline, he currently covers the NFL (Rams, Chargers), NBA (Clippers, Lakers), Major League Baseball (Dodgers) and NCAA sports (USC, UCLA, Long Beach State). Dennis is a proud alum of Howard University.