NFL Cleveland Browns

5 Cleveland Browns Who Mean The Most To The Team’s Future

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5 Cleveland Browns Who Mean The Most To The Team’s Future

Cleveland Browns
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The Cleveland Browns were a perplexing team last season. At times it looked like they were about to break out and be a real contender in the AFC North, and then at other times they looked like the same old Browns who couldn’t do anything right.

In the end they finished with a typical 4-12 record last season, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. For the first time in a long time the Browns had someone truly break out and have an elite type of year. Wide receiver Josh Gordon was one of the most dynamic playmakers in the league the second half of the year, and he is a big part of what the Browns are hoping is a bright future.

While Gordon is the leader on the offense, the defense has plenty of good young talent as well. That defense, which finished 8th against the pass and 18th against the run, is shaping up to be one of the best units in the league going forward. They’ve invested heavily on that side of the ball, and it should start to pay dividends for them.

The biggest question mark in the future of the Browns is who will be under center. If they find an answer to that question in the draft this year, they have a solid young core to build around whoever they can get to play quarterback.

The Browns are hoping that the future in Cleveland is better than the past has been, and these are the five Browns who mean the most to those future plans.

Ben Sullivan is an NFL writer for Follow him on Twitter @bensullivan52, "Like" him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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5. Joe Thomas

Joe Thomas Cleveland Browns
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Joe Thomas has been the left tackle of the future for the Browns for a while now. He's one of the most solid and dependable lineman in the league, and when Cleveland finally does find a quarterback he'll be the key piece to keeping him upright and productive.

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4. Barkevious Mingo

Barkevious Mingo Cleveland Browns
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Barkevious Mingo, the No. 6 overall pick last year, had a solid rookie season for the Browns. With 42 tackles and five sacks in his rookie campaign, Mingo has shown the kind of potential that made him such a high pick. Cleveland needs him to take that next step and be a dominant pass rusher if they want to turn the corner and start winning games.

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3. Jabaal Sheard

Jabaal Sheard Cleveland Browns
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On the other side of the defense the Browns have another talented pass rusher, Jabaal Sheard. With 21 sacks in his first three years in the league, Cleveland is hoping that he can team up with Mingo and give them one of the most dangerous pass rushing combos in the league.

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2. Joe Haden

Joe Haden Cleveland Browns
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Already one of the best young corners in the league, Joe Haden is the cornerstone of the Browns' secondary. Quietly building a really good defense, the Browns are counting on Haden to be a shutdown corner for years to come.

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1. Josh Gordon

Josh Gordon Cleveland Browns
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The breakout player of the 2013 season, Gordon burst onto the scene and immediately put his name among the best receivers in the league. If he can stay out of trouble off the field and keep being productive on it, the Browns will be in good shape going forward. If they can find someone to throw him the ball that is.