This article is part of our Team Previews series.
STATE OF THE FRANCHISE
If it weren't for the old school seal brown and orange jersey colors, the casual fan might have a hard time recognizing the new-look Browns in 2014. In addition to personnel overhauls on both sides of the ball, owner Jimmy Haslem shook up the team's front office by firing GM Michael Lombardi and replacing him with Ray Farmer. On the heels of a 4-12 campaign, coach Rob Chudzinski was let go after just one season, replaced by former Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. To run the offense, the defensive-minded Pettine brought in Kyle Shanahan via Washington.
After accepting the promotion, Farmer didn't hesitate to dip into the free agent market to revamp the team's roster. He snagged Arian Foster's understudy, Ben Tate, from the Texans to lead the team's rushing attack, while adding Nate Burleson and Andrew Hawkins to bolster the receiving corps. Not to ignore the defensive side of the ball, linebacker Karlos Dansby was signed to replace tackling leader D'Qwell Jackson, and Donte Whitner was brought in to help cushion the loss of top safety T.J. Ward.
Then came May's draft, which ended up bringing more drama than any Kevin Costner cinematic representation could foretell. Farmer entered and left Day 1 with two first-round selections, although neither pick was made in its original slot. He traded down from the No. 4 pick to select cornerback Justin Gilbert eighth overall, while snagging an extra 2015 first-rounder in the process. Farmer then