New Browns QB Baker Mayfield Excited About Team Being on ‘Hard Knocks’

Baker Mayfield has already been the star of a nine-part pre-draft series called Behind Baker, and now he’s eager for HBO’s Hard Knocks to pull back the curtain again on what’s in Front of Baker during training camp, Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer reports.

“For me looking at it, and us as a team, I’d say it can be good if you handle it right,” he told Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan of Sirius XM NFL radio from the NFLPA Rookie Premiere in Los Angeles. “If you think about it as a way to get on camera and try to show off and do certain things and handle it the wrong way then that can be very negative, it can be a distraction. But if you use it as a sense of, ‘OK, I got to block out everything else and just focus on playing ball,’ then that can be a great thing for us.”

Mayfield believes that Hard Knocks can help prepare the Browns for the some of the adversity they’ll face during the season.

“Having people within our practices, within our training camp, right there trying to, not like they’re trying to distract us, but they’re there,” he said. “You could worry about it, you could think about it, but if you’re able to focus in, that can be a beneficial thing for us, talking about going into away stadiums and going into environments where you have to focus on doing your job, so I’m looking forward it.”

“I know my family is probably looking forward to it as well to be able to get to see practice and what’s going on since they won’t be able to see it there firsthand in person.”

Browns to Appear on HBO’s Hard Knocks in 2018

The Browns will appear on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” for the 2018 season, a source told Adam Schefter of ESPN.

It will be the first time the Browns, who finished 0-16 last year under coach Hue Jackson, will appear on the series, which is airing for the 13th time.

Cleveland hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2002 and has failed to eclipse five wins in 10 of the past 12 seasons.

The Browns boast the No. 1 overall pick in QB Baker Mayfield, who will be in training camp alongside newcomer Tyrod Taylor as the team looks to fix its longstanding quarterback quandary.

Can the Browns Go From Worst to First in 2018? Pro Football Weekly Discusses Their Chances

There’s been plenty of buzz around the Browns since the NFL Draft nearly two weeks ago, as many think that the turnaround for the team will (hopefully) be swift, and not the long drawn out process that it’s taken for the team to start winning.

Today Pro Football Weekly’s Eric Edholm put out an article ranking all eight last place teams from the 2017 season, and if there’s a chance they can make it all the way to first place in 2018.

While the Browns rank 7th of 8th to find a way to best the Steelers for the Divisional Title, there’s hope on the horizon, and Edholm writes that in his take on the Brown and Orange.

There’s genuine and perhaps even legitimate excitement following a major overhaul this offseason. An offense that was dead last in points scored and absolutely miserable in the red zone has added upgrades at QB (Tyrod Taylor, Baker Mayfield and Drew Stanton), running back (Carlos Hyde and Nick Chubb), receiver (Jarvis Landry and Antonio Callaway, if he can stay out of trouble), hired Todd Haley to call plays and at least given themselves options to replace Joe Thomas at left tackle.

Can they create turnovers on defense? Make vast improvements on special teams? Big questions for sure. And naturally, there’s some real doubt about how 1-31 Hue Jackson will coach knowing that he needs to really knock it out of the park in Year 3 to keep his gig.

Another big obstacle is the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team they’ve beaten once since 2012, who should be the division favorites again. The Browns would have to go from zero victories to, you have to figure, at least 10 to win the AFC North. Remember, the Ravens are still a competitive club, and they’ve also had Cleveland’s number in recent years (2-18 since 2007).

Browns First-Round Pick CB Denzel Ward Down with a Hip Flexor

Browns cornerback Denzel Ward went down during rookie minicamp Friday and sat out Saturday’s session with a hip flexor injury according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

The No.4-overall pick in last weekend’s draft out of Ohio State, Ward is being counted on as a starter from Day One at one of the outside corner sports with E.J. Gaines and Jamar Taylor competing for the spot opposite him in standard defensive sets. The injury is considered minor and should not impact Ward’s availability for OTAs or training camp.

LB Dominique Alexander and RB Darius Jackson Released by the Browns

The Browns released two players on Thursday, linebacker Dominique Alexander and running back Darius Jackson. Alexander failed his physical, Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer reports.

Alexander was an undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma in 2016 who found a role on special teams. A knee injury ended his 2017 season. The Browns drafted Genard Avery last Saturday, a linebacker out of Memphis who they believe will be a very good special teams player.

Jackson was claimed near the end of the 2016 season. He was originally a sixth-round pick of the Cowboys in 2016.

Browns Exercise Fifth-Year Option on CB Damarious Randall

The Browns have exercised the fifth-year option for 2019 on cornerback Damarious Randall according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

Randall, the 30th-overall pick in the 2015 draft out of Arizona State by the Green Bay Packers, was traded to the Browns on March 9 in exchange for quarterback DeShone Kizer. Randall flashed starter skills in Green Bay and racked up 10 interceptions in three seasons but also clashed with the coaching staff, which seems to be the primary reason he was dealt.

He is reportedly transitioning back to free safety, which is the position he played in college. The Browns exercising the fifth-year option means they are covering their bases in case Randall becomes a core player they want to keep longterm. The option is guaranteed for injury only.

Browns Earn an ‘B-‘ for Their Draft According to ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.

The draft grades from ‘Draft Guru’ Mel Kiper Jr. are out, and one team that got a very good grade is that of the Browns, who according to Kiper got an ‘B-‘ for their collection of players over the two days.

Here’s what he had to say:

It’s all about Baker. I said it when the pick was made, and I still feel that way. Give new general manager John Dorsey credit: he stuck to his guns and took the guy he believes in. Last year he traded up for Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City — not at all a chalk pick at the time — and this year he went with Mayfield, who lacks classic “No. 1 QB prototype” traits but brings elite accuracy, significant experience, and former walk-on moxie that seems to galvanize teammates. I would have drafted Sam Darnold, and we’ll all watch these careers play out side-by-side. But after passing on so many QBs, the Browns got their guy.

Denzel Ward was the top cornerback in this class and hits an obvious need. I would have picked Bradley Chubb at No. 4 — the thought of him and Myles Garrett on the same line is pretty enticing. I like Austin Corbett (pick 33) as an immediate depth option on a line where the Joe Thomas void feels significant. No. 35 pick Nick Chubb’s arrival means the Browns now have one of the more interesting backfields in the NFL — he, Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson can provide a lot of looks and production. Chad Thomas (67) provides some rotational help, and if he pans out, the absence of Chubb won’t be as much of a conversation.

Antonio Callaway is that classic mixed bag. On one hand, this is a supreme talent with first-round pedigree. But the “yeah, but” is impossible to ignore. The off-field issues are significant, and there’s an outside chance he doesn’t stick at all. That said, him Jarvis Landry, Josh Gordon, David Njoku, and that group of running backs? That’s a lot of talent. And that’s just the question for Cleveland: does all that talent become something? And can Baker be the catalyst?

We’ll see.

Round/Pick Name Pos College
1/1 Baker Mayfield QB OKLAHOMA
1/4 Denzel Ward CB OHIO STATE
2/33 Austin Corbett G NEVADA
2/35 Nick Chubb RB GEORGIA
3/67 Chad Thomas DE MIAMI
4/105 Antonio Callaway WR FLORIDA
5/150 Genard Avery ILB MEMPHIS
6/175 Damion Ratley WR TEXAS A&M
6/188 Simeon Thomas CB LOUISIANA

Browns Select Ohio State CB Denzel Ward with Fourth Overall Pick

After taking Baker Mayfield with the first overall pick, the Browns went defense with their fourth overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, taking cornerback Denzel Ward from Ohio State.

Here’s a scouting report on Ward:

Ohio State has been a factory of NFL talent, and that has especially been the case under Urban Meyer. During the 2016 season, the Buckeyes had a standout NFL secondary with three first-round talents at cornerback and one at free safety Malik Hooker. Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley were the starting corners on the outside, with Denzel Ward serving as the nickel corner. That trio of first-rounders was excellent, and Ward totaled 23 tackles with nice passes broken up in 2016.

With Lattimore and Conley moving on to the NFL, Ward became Ohio State’s No. 1 cornerback and had an excellent junior season. Ward totaled 37 tackles with 15 passes broken up and two interceptions in 2017. In the 2017 season opener against Indiana, Ward notched an interception, four tackles and five passes broken up. He also was beaten for a touchdown and some other receptions by big Indiana receiver Simmie Cobbs Jr. Ward had problems with Cobbs’ size, but was good at preventing separation. After that game, Ward was very good and consistent throughout the season at locking down receivers and keeping them from getting open. He put on a clinic in the Big Ten Championship game with an excellent performance in what was his final collegiate game.

For the NFL, Ward is man-cover corner. He is very fast with quick feet, loose hips, and easy acceleration. With his skill set, Ward is superb at running the route with receivers to prevent separation. He is adept at playing off-man coverage and running with fast wideouts downfield. Ward is reliable to handle the speed receivers in one-on-one coverage without getting safety help over the top. He transitions well in routes and will sit on routes to challenge receivers. Ward also has good ball skills with impressive timing on his contact and the hands to be an interception threat.