Cleveland Browns to be featured on 'Hard Knocks' this summer

The Cleveland Browns are hoping to open up a new era this season with a bevy of young, talented draft picks and multiple splashy veteran offseason acquisitions. And now their every act will be followed by a camera crew.

HBO’s “Hard Knocks” is headed to Cleveland, as first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Baker Mayfield will be the center of attention as the Cleveland Browns are featured on “Hard Knocks.” (AP)
Baker Mayfield will be the center of attention as the Cleveland Browns are featured on “Hard Knocks.” (AP)

The Browns confirmed their selection for the hit HBO show on Twitter.

What are the Browns’ biggest storylines on ‘Hard Knocks’?

It won’t be hard to get excited about this announcement. Even though the Browns are coming off an 0-16 season, are 1-31 over their past two seasons and haven’t won a playoff game since 1994, there are a ton of storylines to follow.

  • The team just drafted quarterback Baker Mayfield with the No. 1 overall pick. In a draft class full of potential future franchise quarterbacks, Cleveland selected a mobile, 6-foot-1 gunslinger, and he’s had some issues off the field as well. Mayfield is a big personality, supremely confident and a perfect fit for this type of show.

  • Mayfield isn’t the only rookie who will immediately be a key part of this rebuild. The Browns took cornerback Denzel Ward with the No. 4 pick and added running back Nick Chubb in the second round. Those are some of the biggest names out of the draft, but with six picks in the first four rounds, the Browns are expecting many early contributors.

  • The team also made several other flashy offseason acquisitions: Wide receiver Jarvis Landry will immediately step into the slot as one of the game’s best yards-after-catch players, and quarterback Tyrod Taylor will provide veteran leadership for Mayfield. Carlos Hyde, fresh off a 938-yard, eight-touchdown year with San Francisco, will look to take over at running back.

  • Joe Thomas, the future Hall-of-Fame left tackle and bedrock for the franchise for the past decade, retired earlier this offseason. There is a gaping hole at left tackle and in the locker room that someone will have to fill.

  • Head coach Hue Jackson is in for a key season. He’s 1-31 as Browns head coach, and the front office will need to see progress if he wants to retain his job. Two seasons ago, then-Rams head coach Jeff Fisher was relieved of his duties months after “Hard Knocks.” Joining Jackson is new offensive coordinator Todd Haley, imported from division rival Pittsburgh. How those two minds mesh will almost certainly be a key plot point.

  • The development of last year’s first-round rookies — defensive end Myles Garrett, safety Jabrill Peppers, tight end David Njoku — in their second offseason will feature heavily. Garrett, last year’s No. 1 overall pick, registered seven sacks in just 11 games.

  • Wide receiver Josh Gordon — who opened up to GQ in a fascinating and mind-boggling interview in November 2017 — is back for a full season. That alone is a terrific reason to watch. He’ll also be a key part in helping mentor fourth-round pick Antonio Callaway, a talented yet troubled University of Florida product who missed all of the 2017 season.

It contradicts GM John Dorsey’s earlier comments

Roughly two weeks ago, Browns general manager John Dorsey was on ESPN Cleveland 850 and said the following:

“I don’t believe we’re on ‘Hard Knocks.’ I don’t think there’s anything good that comes out of ‘Hard Knocks,’ but we’ll see.”

Dorsey, 57, is in his first year as the team’s GM and is overseeing a lengthy rebuilding process. For a team that has struggled so much on the field, it’s a reasonable stance to want to be distraction-free. But it seems that Dorsey will have to deal with HBO’s camera crew regardless.

Dorsey, Jackson endorsed ‘Hard Knocks’ when it became official

After voicing his negative opinion of the show, Dorsey backtracked when it became official that the Browns were selected. From Cleveland’s media release:

“Like many, I was reluctant about being the featured team on Hard Knocks but once we sat down and talked about it as an organization, I feel a lot better and understand why the time is right. Hue and I both feel like this team is in a good place and that we are in the process of building something that will lead to success. Being a part of Hard Knocks will give our fans the opportunity to see how passionate the people in our building are about winning and how excited we are about getting to work and preparing for the 2018 season.”

Jackson, heading into his third year as the team’s head, also added the following:

“I’ve been a part of Hard Knocks and when you experience it first hand, you come to appreciate the inside look it really gives fans. We are excited about what we are building within our organization and feel good about the progress we have made this offseason. Being able to bring our fans in so they can get to know our players and our organization in a different way will be a huge positive for us. I want people to see how much our players and coaches care, how hard they work and how badly they want to win for Cleveland. This will be a great opportunity for our team.”

What teams have been on ‘Hard Knocks’?

Here’s a list of teams that have been featured on the HBO series and their records the ensuing season:

2001 Ravens: 10-6, made playoffs
2002 Cowboys: 5-11, missed playoffs
2007 Chiefs: 4-12 missed playoffs
2008 Cowboys: 9-7, missed playoffs
2009 Bengals: 10-6, made playoffs
2010 Jets: 11-5, made playoffs
2012 Dolphins: 7-9, missed playoffs
2013 Bengals: 11-5, made playoffs
2014 Falcons: 6-10, missed playoffs
2015 Texans: 9-7, made playoffs
2016 Rams: 4-12, missed playoffs
2017 Buccaneers: 5-11, missed playoffs

When does ‘Hard Knocks’ with the Browns debut?

NFL Films’ 30-man crew will descend on Berea, Ohio for Browns training camp, recording over 2,000 hours of footage. The first episode will open on Aug. 7 at 10 p.m. ET, and new episodes will release every Tuesday after.

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