BEREA, Ohio -- When the latest regime of decision-makers for the Cleveland Browns began to arrive last December, one thing was evident: after going 1-31 and finishing off only the second 0-16 season in NFL history, there needed to be a culture change.
Over the first two days of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Browns selected multiple players with backgrounds as walk-ons who had to fight their way to the top of the depth chart, and they believe that kind of perseverance shown by everyone from quarterback Baker Mayfield to running back Nick Chubb will serve the team well.
“You hate to say it -- it is cliché -- but it is a cultural change, bringing in the right people with the right attitude, the right commitment,” said Alonzo Highsmith, the Browns’ vice president of player personnel.
Fellow vice president of player personnel Andrew Berry added, “Undoubtedly, it is an exciting time. We have added a number of both veterans and younger players that we think can add competition and add talent to a number of position groups and bolster the roster as a whole.”
As a walk-on at two different colleges, there was a time when Mayfield could have only dreamed of becoming the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft.
But that dream became a reality when the Cleveland Browns selected the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback from Oklahoma with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, last Thursday night.
During his three years at Oklahoma and one season with the Texas Tech Red Raiders, Mayfield completed 1,026 of his 1,497 attempts (68.5 percent) for 14,607 yards and 131 touchdowns against only 30 interceptions.
“Certainly, a number of the players we have taken do have a common theme of having been able to overcome adversity,” Berry said. “We do think that translates on the field, as well because football is a very tough sport.”
Over the last four-plus years, the Browns have gone 4-49, and the record has not been much better since the Haslams officially purchased the team in October of 2012.
In five seasons under Haslam’s majority ownership, the Browns have posted an NFL-worst 15-65 record. Factoring in the remaining games of the 2012 season after the sale was approved at an NFL Owners Meeting in Chicago, the Browns have gone 19-70.
The Browns have not won on a Sunday afternoon since December 13, 2015, and the 33 straight losses are an NFL record.
Additionally, this season, the Browns set the record for the worst 28-game stretch in NFL history, as they bested the previous mark of 2-26 set by the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the 1976-1977 seasons with a 1-27 showing that got four losses worse after Week 13.
Also, with Buffalo clinching a wildcard berth in the AFC, the Browns now have the longest-standing playoff drought in the NFL.
“It is about making the Cleveland Browns better,” Highsmith said. “It is about representing the city and bringing a proud franchise back to this city.
“It is going to take the right type of players, the (Jarvis) Landrys, the Corbetts, the Chubbs, the players that we have signed in free agency, Tyrod Taylor and all of these people. It is time to change. It is time to turn this thing around.”
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