Alex Hooper: Browns-Eagles Projects Further Than Week One, or 2016

Clichés are awful, but there is a reason things become cliché, and that is because there is at least a shred of truth to them.

This Cleveland Browns roster heading into the season is borderline unprecedented. With upwards of 20 first or second year players on the 53-man, the roster overhaul will have this team younger than any in the league. That is not the cliché.

Here is the truth, albeit something you hear every off-season: The first game of the season will tell you so much about this team.

But it goes beyond that, and it is because of a move another team made.

The Eagles dealing Sam Bradford to the Vikings for Minnesota’s first-rounder was a coup. But it will help shape the Browns future, not only in 2017 after they expend Philly’s first-rounder, as well as providing a clearer window of how much – or how little – the team can accomplish in 2016.

Bradford’s ticket to the NFC North presumably makes the Eagles’ chances to win that much worse, therefore bettering the Browns’ first – or second – pick in the first round.

Now, with a matchup between the Browns and Eagles in Week One, we will get a glimpse of just how good – or bad – both teams will be.

It seems completely conceivable at this point that the Browns could finish the season 0-16, but that doesn’t mean that Jimmy Haslam is wrong when he said, “We could win eight.” It is comical that a .500 season is the ceiling that the owner set, but that is kind of the point.

If the Browns come out and beat up the Eagles in Week One, it will probably say more about Doug Pederson’s team than it will Hue Jackson’s, and that is perfectly fine. If the Eagles are worse than the Browns, then you can almost bet on two Top-5 draft picks in 2017.

If the Eagles are able to handle the Browns, it will most likely be because of rookie quarterback Carson Wentz’s rapid development in the absence of Bradford. That could be bad for the fact that Sashi Brown and Co. handed Wentz to the Eagles, but also, it could be the prologue for a later first-rounder from Philly, in Philly.

That’s not the end of the world, but it feels like Draft Watch 2017 will be the story of the 2016 Cleveland Browns. That makes Week One perhaps the most integral piece of information in what the 2017 Browns will look like.

The Eagles have more depth at most positions, but it must be pointed out that the Browns are probably currently in better shape at quarterback.

Probably.

Robert Griffin III has thrown 986 more NFL passes than either of Philly’s contenders for the starting job, Wentz and seventh-year man Chase Daniel, combined.

So whether or not you are one of the fans who are planning on taking a Browns sabbatical through what is assumedly going to be a losing rebuild-season, you probably should at least see how Week One pans out.

More from Alex Hooper | 92.3 The Fan
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