When it comes to the NFL there are many storylines and players to follow. However, there is one team that can make or break itself this season. That team is the Cleveland Browns. The Browns are under a new coaching regime for the 8th time since 1999 and they also have a new front office structure. They also have several new players. In this article we take a look at 5 players to keep your eyes on during the 2016 season.
5. Joe Haden
Haden was once viewed as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. He could shut down whatever side of the field he was on. He would more often than not be locked up with the opponents #1 wideout. However, lately he has come under some scrutiny. He has suffered a rash of injuries the past few seasons and has not been himself. If Haden can overcome these injuries then he may be able to return to his old self and once again lead the Browns defense. This will be a player to keep your eyes on 2016.
4. Joe Thomas
Thomas is entering his 10th season as the Browns offensive tackle. He has anchored a less than stellar line for a majority of those previous 9 years. If the Browns expect to improve they need to get Joe Thomas some help. He cannot do it all alone. If he goes down for any length of time, the Browns would be is some serious hurt at the position. I would keep my eyes on Joe Thomas and his health for 2016.
3. Duke Johnson
Johnson and fellow RB Isiah Crowell are going to be in a heated battle for the number 1 spot on the roster. I would tend to put Duke Johnson slightly ahead as he has a little more power and can run between the tackles. But with no clear-cut #1, this could be a running back by committee situation. Keep your eyes on Duke Johnson to see if can take control of the starting running back spot.
2. Josh Gordon
When the NFL reinstated Josh Gordon, Browns fans went nuts. They immediately thought that they could return to the playoffs. Not so fast. Gordon, yes, is very athletic. He can make a QB better. We have to keep tabs on him though to make sure he does not regress. One slip up from this kid and his career is over. If he can come into the situation in week 5 and play like he was before his suspension he does make the Browns better. However, they are not playoff better. There are too many other holes. Keep your eyes on Gordon though. He could be just what the doctor ordered for the future.
1. Robert Griffin III
RG3 should be named the starting QB of the Cleveland Browns. I would be surprised if not. The questions here are; Can he stay healthy? and Can he return to his 2012 form? If he can do both of those the Browns, with a little more help, could return to playoff contention in the future. He is under good tutelage with Head Coach Hugh Jackson. If anyone can get this kids head straight it is Jackson. Keep you eyes on the QB. His performance could mean a lot for the future of this organization.
The Cleveland Browns are often viewed as the doormat of the NFL. They have never drafted very well and they seem to be a place where good QBs go for career death. If they can rid themselves of these monikers they may be able to turn around a once winning franchise (pre 1999). The 5 players listed here are surely a huge key to that success. If they can rally the youth the future could surely brighten up.