Editor's Note: Over the next two weeks, Nathan Zegura, Andrew Gribble and Anthony Poisal will be giving their takes and predictions on some of the hottest topics surrounding the Browns as they prepare for training camp.
We're talking about the big names — and there are a number of them — in our latest installment of "10 for '21."
Gribble: The stars are aligned for the best season yet from Myles Garrett, who enters Year 5 after compiling 12 sacks and earning All-Pro recognition in 2020. Garrett has emerged as one of the NFL's best pass rushers and took his game to another level by making a majority of his biggest plays in the biggest moments of close games. He single-handedly sealed a number of Cleveland's wins early in the season and maintained a steady dose of dominance throughout the year, which was short-circuited a bit by his battle with COVID-19. Now, Garrett is in the thick of his prime and back to full strength on a defensive line that underwent plenty of transformation during the offseason. On the opposite side of the line, he'll be complemented by Pro Bowler Jadeveon Clowney and Takkarist McKinley, among others. The secondary should be much improved, too, meaning he'll get an extra second or two to get after the quarterback. And we've all seen the offseason workout videos. Garrett's ready to roll.
Zegura: As I turn my attention to the offensive side of the ball, I have my eye on Browns TE David Njoku as a player to watch in 2021. The Chief has a unique combination of size, speed and athletic ability in the Browns tight end room and could be in line for a breakout season. Njoku is the one real seam stretcher and vertical threat that the team has at tight end and always has shown a knack for scoring touchdowns in the red zone. I thought Njoku was playing his best football down the stretch last year and even led the Browns tight ends in receiving yards in the playoff loss to Kansas City a year ago. The Chief really improved as a blocker in 2020. Having the continuity on offense will only help this rare athlete play faster and more confident in 2021. With Pro Bowler Austin Hooper also in the mix, there is a ceiling for Njoku from a statistical perspective, but I think he will be very explosive and efficient with his chances this year en route to becoming a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses who will truly have to pick their poison against the Browns' loaded offense.
Poisal: Baker Mayfield has all the pieces he needs to make 2021 his best year with the Browns. The importance of him and head coach Kevin Stefanski spending a second year together— the first time that's happened between a coach and Mayfield in his NFL career — can't be understated. The return of Odell Beckham Jr., another player who could be in line for his best season yet in Cleveland, should provide a massive jolt to the pass game, too. Mayfield, Joel Bitonio, Stefanski and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt all said the offense ascended at the halfway point last season because the group began to fully understand the intricacies of Stefanski's playbook, so how dangerous could the unit become after a full offseason of even more learning? Mayfield will benefit most if things click the way the Browns hope, and that likely means a big fourth year in Cleveland.