Joe Thomas thinks the Browns have an opportunity to surprise people in 2018.
Cleveland's former left tackle and future Hall-of-Famer believes the team has the quarterback(s) and talent to bounce back following the franchise's first winless season.
"I always have high expectations, I'm a little bit of a homer," Thomas said on NFL Network's All Access, "but I definitely think the Browns have an opportunity to get into that playoff picture and play their first playoff game since I think 2004."
Led by first-year general manager John Dorsey, Cleveland overhauled its roster this past offseason, a process that included high-profile trades for starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor, three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Jarvis Landry and free safety Damarious Randall. In the NFL Draft, they selected a quarterback-of-the-future in Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield with the first-overall pick and Ohio State star cornerback Denzel Ward at No. 4.
Thomas, who retired in March following 11 seasons and 10 Pro Bowls with the team, thinks the future is bright for a Browns team that has won just four games over the past three seasons. It starts with, he said, having a proven quarterback like Taylor, who earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2015 and helped Bills snap a 17-year playoff drought last season.
"This league has more parity than any other pro sports league in the country. In football, all you are is one player away and a lot of times it's that quarterback," Thomas said. "As we saw what Tyrod Taylor did with Buffalo last year, he's a guy that can take an OK team to the playoffs. I actually think looking at the Browns roster right now, they have more talent than what the Bills did last year when Tyrod took them to the playoffs."
To be sure, the Browns will have to turn that potential into production come September. We'll get a better idea of where they stand when training camp opens Thursday afternoon.