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In the NBA, “The Big 3” is an oft-used term to describe when three very good to great players get together. Sometimes misused to just describe the top three players on a team, having a “Big 3” is key to success in the NBA.
In the NFL, the term “triplets” became popular with the original “Triplets” in Dallas. Troy Aikman at quarterback, Emmitt Smith at running back, and Michael Irvin at wide receiver were a trio of players at the skill position that defined their team.
Since then, “triplets” has stuck with that same recipe: a quarterback, running back, and wide receiver. While offensive line and tight end are highly valuable, some would say that the line is more important than any offensive position outside of quarterback, it is the triplet positions that get the most attention.
Like most media outlets, CBS Sports is spending the offseason ranking things in the NFL. Recently, they started going through their top triplet teams in the NFL and the Cleveland Browns group ranked surprisingly low at eleven:
QB: Baker Mayfield RB: Nick Chubb WR: Odell Beckham Jr.
The Browns suffer from the triplets format, because the strength of their team is their offensive line and running back duo. Chubb is terrific, but the Browns also have Kareem Hunt behind him, and that makes them different from other teams with Chubb-caliber running backs. Beckham was injured for much of last season and Mayfield actually played better once he was out, but let’s not kid ourselves here: he’s still the best pass-catcher on the team. That said, there are still major injury concerns with him, as well as consistency concerns with Mayfield. Still, this spot feels about right for Cleveland.
As noted, the Browns offensive line and Kareem Hunt is really where the strength of the team is. Beckham returning from surgery also allows for this low ranking.
What is interesting is looking at some of the teams right in front of the Browns. The Rams, with newly acquired Matthew Stafford, Cam Akers and Roberts Woods at 10. Baltimore with Lamar Jackson, J.K. Dobbins and (somewhat cheating because he is a tight end) Mark Andrews at 9.
With each of the teams ranked 4 through 7 you could easily argue the Browns trio above. The Bills have Zack Moss, the Chargers a 2nd-year quarterback and Austin Ekeler, the Vikings with Kirk Cousins, and the Seahawks with Chris Carson all give pause for why they are ranked above the Browns.
Should Baker Mayfield continue his growth in year two under Kevin Stefanski and Odell Beckham Jr. bounce back from injury, and a couple of down seasons, the Browns should rocket up the list. Nick Chubb has been the model of consistency and that is not expected to change.
A quick look at this list might put a little extra chip on the shoulders of Mayfield and Beckham going into 2021.