Last season the Cleveland Browns finished 7-10, missed the playoffs and came in last in the AFC North, but this year will be different, at least according to offensive lineman Chris Hubbard. The free agent spoke about the Browns upcoming season and had high praise for his former team, saying they will be up there with the best of the AFC.
Hubbard, who was on the Browns from 2018 to 2022, said the changes and additions they have made this offseason will pay off during the 2023 season.
"For me, I'm not just saying this because I've been there, but just looking at everything and all the (drafting) that they have done this past year, they're adding so many weapons on that team," Hubbard said, via NFL Network. "I just feel like the Browns (have) what it takes, man, to be a top contender, when it comes to everything that they've done with Andrew Berry stacking on everybody and making sure that guys are in the right position to play, and Kevin Stefanski, and they've got coach (Jim) Schwartz over there now."
Hubbard, 32, played his first four seasons with the Steelers before joining the Browns for the last five. The 32-year-old is taking free-agent visits and hopes to extend his career. He started only one game in the last two seasons, but he saw plenty about what was happening in Cleveland.
To sum up the Browns, Hubbard said, "Man, it's a powerhouse. I really feel like it's a real powerhouse."
The Browns have not been a "powerhouse" in some time, winning one playoff game since 1995. If you are a Cleveland fan under 53, you can count how many Browns playoff wins you have seen on one hand.
If this is going to be the year the Browns are in the top AFC teams conversation, there is a lot of improvement that needs to be made on all three sides of the ball. To boost their chances, this offseason the Browns added defensive tackles Dalvin Tomlinson, Maurice Hurst, Trysten Hill and wide receivers Elijah Moore and Marquise Goodwin, along with safety Juan Thornhill and defensive end Ogbo Okoronkwo.
Five players they took in the 2023 NFL Draft -- defensive tackle Siaki Ika, defensive end Isaiah McGuire, quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, cornerback Cameron Mitchell and center Luke Wypler -- have signed with the team.
The Browns offense was on the lower end for completion percentage, passing yards and touchdowns last season and the jump to erasing that narrative and becoming a top-level team will not be easy in their division. The Cincinnati Bengals are in the Super Bowl conversation and the Baltimore Ravens officially have Lamar Jackson next season and added exciting players like Odell Beckham Jr. Playing those two teams twice a year presents a big challenge, and when you go outside of the division into the AFC, things do not get much easier.
The Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs remain as two of the best in the AFC and now that Aaron Rodgers is on the New York Jets, they could be a threat as well. Throw in some of the up-and-coming teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars and Los Angeles Chargers and the Browns' path to the playoffs is far from easy.