Excitement and anticipation are overflowing in Northeast Ohio as the start of the 2019 NFL season creeps closer with each passing day.
A good portion of that optimism stems from the Browns' young core, which includes franchise quarterback Baker Mayfield and Pro Bowl defensive end Myles Garrett. It's no surprise, then, that the two landed on CBS Sports' Top 25 NFL players under 25 list, released Monday.
Where the two landed, though, is eye opening and an even greater boost to the Browns' bright future.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield first appeared on the list, coming in at No. 5. Here's what CBS Sports' Sean Wagner-McGough had to say about Mayfield's ranking after one season:
"Of course, the reason the Browns didn't take Chubb with the top pick is Baker Mayfield. It obviously ended up being the right decision.
Mayfield began the season behind Tyrod Taylor, but it didn't take him long to leave an impression. Filling in for an injured Taylor in Week 3, Mayfield led the Browns to a win (back when that thing was a foreign concept to the Browns) over the Jets. He would go on to lead the Browns to a 6-7 record as a starter (7-7 if you include his first appearance). In the process, he completed 63.8 percent of his passes, threw for 3,725 yards and 27 touchdowns, and posted a 93.7 passer rating. He set a rookie record with those 27 touchdown passes.
Mayfield sneaks his way into the top five not just because of what he did (help make the Browns good), but also because of his potential. He certainly looks like he has the chance to become one of the best quarterbacks in football and he's been placed in the exact kind of environment he needs to succeed. He's got the best running back group in football, Odell Beckham, and a play-caller who demonstrated last season that he understands how to get the most out of his young quarterback.
Mayfield is already good, but he has a chance to be great. This isn't a draft, but if it were a draft, he'd probably be the second pick."
Check out photos from the seventh day of OTA practices
We're just getting settled in the top five, though, as Garrett did his quarterback one better, landing at No. 3. Garrett, who at 23 years old is a year younger than the 24-year-old Mayfield, was the first of two straight No. 1 overall picks for Cleveland in the 2017 and 2018 drafts.
Here's what Wagner-McGough wrote about Garrett, a 2018 Pro Bowl selection:
"The biggest reason the Browns finally have the look of a playoff team? They hit on both of their No. 1 picks over the past two years. Before Baker, there was Myles Garrett, who has already blossomed into a dominant pass rusher. Through two seasons, Garrett has generated 20.5 sacks, 13.5 of which came last season. He's on the ascent. He can still get better."
A title-contending window is never wider than when a team has a young, effective quarterback on his first contract. The Browns have that and more in Garrett and a host of additional youthful playmakers, including Denzel Ward, Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr., Damarious Randall, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, among others. These rankings just support how well-positioned the Browns are for the future.