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Cleveland Browns' 2023 outlook: Deshaun Watson, Jim Schwartz and a much-improved WR room

2R5365M Cleveland Browns wide receiver Elijah Moore (8) reaches for a pass in front of cornerback Martin Emerson Jr. , right, during an NFL football practice, Wednesday, May 31, 2023, in Berea, Ohio. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

• A lot went wrong in 2022: Deshaun Watson played far below his career baseline, and the defensive line — outside of Myles Garrett — was a weakness.

• What to make of Deshaun Watson: He ranked well in PFF's stable metrics in his time with the Texans, meaning he has a good chance to return to form in 2023.

• New receivers: Cedric Tillman and Elijah Moore provide extra juice to a unit in need of someone to step up behind Amari Cooper.

Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes

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Years of franchise turmoil led the Cleveland Browns to tear their roster down to the studs in 2016 and, in doing so, accumulate a boatload of assets.

A 1-31 record ensued over the next two seasons, bringing the team's 10-year average to 4.6 wins per year, but things finally began to trend in a more positive direction after the team made Baker Mayfield the No. 1 overall pick in 2018. Cleveland has won 39 regular-season games in the following five years, plus secured a postseason victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, to average 7.8 wins per season.

Call the tear-down and rebuild successful, but the Browns and their fanbase are expecting more. Drafting No. 1 overall in back-to-back seasons should result in a franchise-changing quarterback and another game-changing player. Half of that was accomplished, as Myles Garrett has turned into the best edge defender in the game. His four straight seasons of 90.0-plus grades, including the highest pass-rush grade from an edge defender in the PFF era in 2022 (93.5) are evidence.

Mayfield is a different story. He led the team to its first playoff victory in more than two decades in his third season, grading as the eighth-best quarterback in the NFL (85.1) and accounting for the ninth-most wins above replacement at the position. But that would be the end of the feel-good story. The 2021 season was a disaster that saw the quarterback injure his non-throwing shoulder and never look the same, leading to a blockbuster trade with the Houston Texans for Deshaun Watson — as well as Mayfield's departure.


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