CLEVELAND, Ohio – Marc Ross worked at the New York Giants front office for 11 years. Prior to that, at age 27, he became the league’s youngest varsity scouting manager with the Philadelphia Eagles. He knows what it’s like to put together a list.
There’s no roster in the NFL that he likes better than the Cleveland Browns.
Ross joined me on Thursday’s edition of the Orange and Brown Talk podcast to discuss his ranking and the different parts of the list. I wrote before the Super Bowl in January that the Browns could be the third best team in the league, and that was before adding John Johnson III, Jadeveon Clowney, Troy Hill, Anthony Walker and Takk McKinley in free agency and to take Greg Newsome and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah into the project.
I think you will enjoy our 30 minute conversation. But here are, in short, my five reasons why I think ranking the Browns as the No.1 list in the league makes sense.
1. No gaping holes: There might not be any obvious linebacker and defensive tackle strengths, but there appears to be a reliable four-man (at least) rotation of veterans and young players in both places. I don’t think you would look either place and think a weakness there would ruin the season. Everywhere else, it is strong.
2. The offensive line: Five top guys all coming back from a year ago – I’m not sure if a league team can match that. What a building block.
3. Depth of skill station: The best two-runner combo in the league; two top-level receivers and four more that you can put on the field with some conviction; and three tight ends for a tight end loving offense. These are 11 guys from position of skill who give options to Kevin Stefanski and ensure that any absence of a player shouldn’t derail the season.
4. Good players still on the rise: Whether it’s veterans like Odell Beckham Jr. or Clowney; young veterans like Denzel Ward or Ronnie Harrison; or young players like Jedrick Wills, Grant Delpit, Greedy Williams and the current draft picks, there are talents where the team can anticipate a minimum level of good play. But there are at least a few players on this list who could also take a leap forward this season. What if OBJ is better than ever?
5. The quarterback is quite good: Baker Mayfield doesn’t have to be better than Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady for the Browns to be ranked ahead of Kansas City and Tampa Bay. But it must be within reach. It is.
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