The Cleveland Browns have one of the most talented rosters in the entire league on paper. However, every team needs a certain group of x-factors who can alter a game’s outcome without being a primary member of the scouting report. With that being said, here are the top Cleveland Browns x-factors heading into the 2021 regular season.
While it is difficult to consider Hunt an x-factor due to his immense talent and ability, his role with the Browns lands him in this discussion. The former Chief has revitalized his career with his hometown team after getting into trouble with the law. Hunt’s ability as a pass catcher will only create a bigger role for himself as his Browns tenure continues, as Cleveland legitimately has the most talented pair of running backs in the NFL. While Browns fans certainly love Nick Chubb and rightfully so, Hunt’s contributions should not go unnoticed as the combination of the two makes for sleepless nights for opposing coaches and coordinators.
Another player who is hard to consider an x-factor, the former number one overall draft selection will be able to play freely opposite Myles Garrett on the defensive line. Clowney has been objectified to double teams from opposing offensive lines for a majority of his NFL career. That will not be the case in Cleveland as opposing offenses will have to gameplan for him and all pro Myles Garrett. Joe Woods will be able to bring some exotic looking pressures this season as Cleveland will have two supreme athletes off the edge.
Higgins has proved his worth at nearly every turn since he was drafted by the Cleveland Browns. Ever since Baker Mayfield took over the quarterback position, Higgins’ game has only elevated, making contested catches in pivotal moments. With the return of Odell Beckham Jr, Higgins returns to his reserve role, but has shown to be ready whenever his number is called. There should be no reason to believe Higgins will not keep this up if his role is to increase to do injuries again in 2021.
Cleveland’s second round draft selection brings an extremely intriguing skill set to a linebacker room that lacked speed and playmaking ability in 2020. There is an argument to be made that the rookie is the biggest X factor on the entire defense, as his ability to cover opposing running backs and tight ends in space is not something Cleveland did well last season. The days of Mark Andrews running free for the Ravens versus the Browns should be over, as Owusu-Koramoah has the innate ability to change direction and accelerate with ease.
The youngest member of the Cleveland offensive line was a mixed bag during his first ever season at left tackle. At times Wills looked to be the bookend at the position that Cleveland has been searching for since Joe Thomas, despite never playing the position before. Wills should only improve under the tutelage of Bill Callahan, as his teammates on the offensive line did a fantastic job helping Wills adjust in 2020. The sky is certainly the limit for the former Alabama right tackle in Cleveland’s zone blocking system.