More so than any other team, the Browns‘ floor and ceilings are a tough calculation.
To some, the squad is top-heavy in spots, with glaring weaknesses and question marks at quarterback, wide receiver, and along the defensive line.
Those three spots are some of the most important positions in football.
But to others, the Browns are talented enough to realistically vy for a deep playoff run.
But one thing is undisputed: there are some real studs on this Browns team.
And three of them were honored in the NFL’s initial unveiling of its top 100 players.
Every season, NFL players vote on the top 100 players in the league.
And on Monday, the NFL released the results for Nos. 100-51.
And three Browns made the cut in the release: cornerback Denzel Ward (No. 87) and offensive linemen Wyatt Teller (No. 83), and Joel Bitonio (No. 55).
It’s hardly surprising to see Ward’s name on the list.
In four seasons, Ward has hauled in 10 interceptions, including a pick-six last season.
He’s also been good for 186 tackles over the last four seasons.
The two-time Pro-Bowler is a big reason why the Browns’ defensive secondary earned high praise from PFF over the summer and was named the league’s No. 3 unit heading into this season:
“This unit not only has proven studs in Ward and Johnson, but also three ascending top-50 draft picks who have all played two or fewer NFL seasons. What this unit could be is scary to think about, as we already saw quality play from Newsome, Williams and Delpit down the stretch in 2021.”
Expect another Pro-Bowl caliber season from Ward, as he supported by fellow studs in Grant Delpit and John Johnson III.
Line ‘Em Up
In addition to Ward, the Browns’ O-Line got some serious love by NFL players in their rankings.
But is there really any surprise that Bitonio and Teller’s name appear on this list?
Yesterday #Browns claimed former Washington State WR
In 26 games ‘18-‘19
-7 100yd games
-caught a pass in 25 straight games
Definitely worth to kick the tires on the former All-Pac 12 hon. mention pic.twitter.com/KaAkeJY2NL
— Mac🦬 (@tha_buffalo) August 17, 2022
Both have been staples along Cleveland’s offensive line, anchoring a unit that is a big reason why running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt have been so successful.
And like the team’s defensive secondary, the Browns’ O-Line received some serious love from PFF this summer:
“This line simply needs to stay healthy. Last season, tackles Jedrick Wills Jr. and Jack Conklin played only 763 and 361 snaps, respectively. No offensive line in the league can maintain high-level play with their tackles seeing such little action. The only question mark when fully healthy is Nick Harris, who has played only 211 snaps in his career while backing up current free agent J.C. Tretter.”
The Browns will need Bitonio and Teller to be every ounce as good as they’ve been.
That’s because Nick Harris, the team’s projected starter at center, went down with a suspected season-ending knee injury in Cleveland’s first preseason game against Jacksonville.
With Ward, Teller, and Bitonio off the table, who’s next?
Is it possible three more Browns could make the league’s top 50 list?
#Browns K Cade York has earned the 2022 Maurice Bassett Award, given to the most outstanding rookie at training camp, voted on by local media.
— Camryn Justice (@camijustice) August 16, 2022
It would seem that two are virtual locks: Myles Garrett and Nick Chubb.
Perhaps summer acquisition Amari Cooper joins them?
Or another member of Cleveland’s stout defensive secondary or offensive line make the cut.
Regardless, it’s thrilling to see Browns players honored by their peers.