2017 could not have been much worse for the Cleveland Browns. An abysmal 0-16 season featured embarrassing losses, personnel decisions, and even an alleged “trade sabotage” fiasco involving then-general manager Sashi Brown at the mid-season deadline. The aftermath of the season saw Brown replaced by former Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey. Dorsey quickly took action, pulling off a flurry of trades to improve the roster. The Browns then shifted gears to add depth in free agency before the upcoming Draft. With such a vast overhaul in progress it is easy to forget some of the returning Browns players ready and able to help the team win. That being said, who are five returning Cleveland Browns set for big seasons in 2018?
Five Returning Cleveland Browns Set to Improve
Myles Garrett, Defensive End
The Browns 2017 first overall pick had a solid rookie season for the team. Garrett finished with seven sacks despite missing five games due to injury. The second year pro now has an opportunity to build on his initial success. One of few returning players essentially guaranteed a key role, Garrett will have plenty of opportunities to wreak havoc on opposing defenses assuming he stays healthy.
Larry Ogunjobi, Defensive Tackle
Like Garrett, Larry Ogunjobi was a 2017 selection for Cleveland. Unlike Garrett, Ogunjobi was a 3rd Round selection and is a relative unknown in the league. That could quickly change in 2018. The Charlotte product became Cleveland’s top interior defensive lineman after Dorsey shipped Danny Shelton to the Patriots. While carving out a roll alongside Shelton in 2017, Ogunjobi tallied 32 tackles and received an 82.0 grade (Above Average) from PFF.
Derrick Kindred, Safety
No aspect of Cleveland’s roster has seen more changes than the secondary this off-season. While Jabrill Peppers is the biggest name left, Derrick Kindred may be the best player. The addition of Damarious Randall will benefit Kindred most of all. With Randall likely making the switch to free safety, the Browns secondary will no longer have to ask other players to play out of position. Kindred and his aggressive style will likely benefit from having less responsibility on the back end. The former TCU standout had 57 tackles and six passes defensed in 14 games in 2017.
Duke Johnson, Running Back
The most proven player on the list, Johnson should benefit greatly from the arrivals of offensive coordinator Todd Haley and quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Haley brings experience utilizing running backs of all skill sets and skill levels (remember how well D’Angelo Williams played when LeVeon Bell was out?. Taylor is a mobile quarterback comfortable throwing short to intermediate passes. Both indicate the possibility of Johnson having a career year in 2018 despite not being known as a “bellcow” back.
Josh Gordon, Wide Receiver
Gordon is arguably the most talented player on the list, but is also the biggest question mark. The 27 year old battled back from numerous suspensions of his own doing to play in the final five games of 2017. The new additions to the coaching staff and offensive skill positions should greatly benefit Gordon, similar to Johnson. The 2013 NFL leader in receiving yards has a career YPC of 17.3.
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