Gritty Joel Bitonio, the oldest Browns draft pick still on the team, finds himself surrounded by fellow Cleveland picks who must come through for 2020 to take off. We rank the top 11.
There is fun to be had in reviewing the long list of former Browns draft picks still in the league and playing elsewhere.
We did that in a 29-man accounting of such players.
Meanwhile, what the 2020 Browns are able to squeeze out of the 24 picks spread across seven drafts that are still on the roster is serious business.
Here is a pecking order of the 11 most important among those draftees.
1, QB Baker Mayfield (No. 1 overall, 2018, John Dorsey pick). The second half of his rookie season featured five wins over teams with losing records. This must be the year he beats winning teams in the first half.
2, DE Myles Garrett (No. 1 overall, 2017, Sashi Brown pick). The tease of Garrett playing up to his draft status must finally turn into a season-long truth.
3, RB Nick Chubb (No. 35 overall, 2018, Dorsey pick). It's obvious he's really good. Can he up his game behind a better line and more streamlined use of Kareem Hunt?
4, OT Jedrick Wills (No. 10 overall, 2020, Andrew Berry pick). Joe Thomas predicts a Pro Bowl as a rookie and All-Pro status soon. Such a left tackle would have come in handy last autumn.
5, CB Denzel Ward (No. 4 overall, 2018, Dorsey pick). The return of Berry, who was a sensational Ivy League cornerback and knows how to talk to young players, could be a hidden factor in getting Ward right.
6, OL Joel Bitonio (No. 35 overall, 2014, Ray Farmer pick). This is the best line since Bitonio's rookie year, when he teamed with Joe Thomas, Mitchell Schwartz, Alex Mack and John Greco on a team that looked like a contender before Mack broke a leg.
7, CB Greedy Williams (No. 46 overall, 2019, Dorsey pick). He played more than 80 percent of the defensive downs in more than half of last year's games. Growing pains must translate into 2020 production.
8, DL Larry Ogunjobi (No. 65 overall, 2017, Brown pick). Last year's D-line was beginning to figure itself out while Ogunjobi was playing all but a few snaps in wins over Buffalo and Pittsburgh. Then the Mason Rudolph thing happened.
9, DB Grant Delpit, No. 44 overall, Berry pick). Gregg Williams' weird plan in 2017 enabled rookie safety Jabrill Peppers to learn a few things while the team was going 0-16. The plan for Greedy Williams' former LSU teammate, Delpit, must be immediately functional.
10, TE David Njoku (No. 29 overall, 2017, Brown pick). With Austin Hooper and rookie Harrison Bryant cast in important roles for now and the future, picking up Njoku's fifth-year option seemed a bit odd. But then, Baltimore had "too many tight ends" in 2019 and went 14-2.
11, LB Sione Takitaki (No. 80 overall, 2019, Dorsey pick). The fact he was entrusted to only four snaps in each of two key games last December leaves little to go on. But he was the second man drafted behind Williams last year, and a thin linebacker corps really needs him to get going.
Eight men out (but considered for the list):
PK Austin Seibert (Round 5, 2019); DL Jordan Elliott (Round 3, 2020); LB Mack Wilson (Round 5, 2019; DL Chad Thomas (Round 3, 2018); TE Harrison Bryant (Round 4, 2020); LB Jacob Phillips (Round 3, 2020); DB Sheldrick Redwine (Round 4, 2019); WR/returner Donovan Peoples-Jones (Round 6, 2020).
Reach Steve at 330-580-8347 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @sdoerschukREP