There used to be a time where the Cleveland Browns only had one dude a casual NFL fan could name: LT Joe Thomas. It was nearly impossible to remember what journeyman QB they were trotting out that week and the rest of the roster had dudes who wanted nowhere near your fantasy team.
Well, things have changed.
When the Los Angeles Rams travel to Cleveland to face the Browns on Sunday Night Football, they will be dealing with a slew of rising superstars that could end up being the biggest challenge in this very young season.
Here are the five Browns to watch:
DE Myles Garrett
When DE Aaron Donald went 14th in the NFL Draft, there was a knock on his size, specifically his height. At 6’1’’, Donald had out-of-this-world skills in a shorter frame. Obviously, Donald has turned this into an advantage, using his leverage to become the best player in the league. However, when you look at the 6’4” Garrett, you can see why NFL teams would want him on their defensive line. Already this season, Garrett has 5 sacks and with a lineup that will be featuring backup OL Jamil Demby, Garrett could be adding more on Sunday night.
QB Baker Mayfield
The linebackers for the LA Rams will be tested with a mobile QB like Mayfield. Maybe if QB Cam Newton was at full strength for week 1 (which he obviously was not), we would know more about how the Rams plan on dealing with a QB such as him. The opposite of QB Jared Goff, Mayfield plays bold and takes chances. He also holds onto the ball longer than he should. This could be an opportunity for ILB Cory Littleton and S John Johnson III to step up again with some turnovers. And how will OLB Clay Matthews and OLB Dante Fowler Jr. fare against a player like Mayfield? I’m seriously on the edge of seat for this one.
P Jaime Gillan
We seriously don’t talk enough about punters. Before I see a picture of a punter, I always assume that they have a shaved head, but not the case with the long-haired UDFA. This is the type of content you crave, I get it. Anyways, Gillan was just awarded the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week. Look out for this rookie to change the field position in a nasty way; he pinned the New York Jets within the 20 yard line five times last week. Coach John Fassel’s special teams unit has had an uneven start, so this could be a good test to see what the deal is.
CB Greedy Williams
Williams has enjoyed a blazing start to his career, outplaying all rookies at his position and even stealing some of the defensive back praise that usually lands on CB Denzel Ward’s doorstep. This is a guy that the Browns straight up stole in the second-round of the NFL Draft. If Goff tries to stay away from Ward, then Williams has a chance to make some big plays.
#Browns Greedy Williams is off to a strong start in his rookie year. His Defensive and Coverage grades from last week (86.2 / 87.5) ranked him 3rd among 100 qualifying CBs.— PFF CLE Browns (@PFF_Browns) September 18, 2019
Through 2 wks, he leads all rookie CBs in Defensive, Coverage, Run Defense, and Tackling grades.
WR Odell Beckham Jr.
Beckham Jr.’s 89-yard touchdown run is pretty much all you need to know about what a problem this guy could be for the LA Rams’ defense. Hot take: he’s an elite pass catcher. However, this touchdown, as fantastic as it is, is his only touchdown in two games.
I’m adding an honorable mention of RB Nick Chubb, who is a high volume rusher that could be a big nuisance for the Rams’ vaunted run defense.
The point of this: the Browns are loaded up with weapons. They’re also very young and prone to mistakes. If the Rams are able to capitalize on this, it just may be the difference in the game.