Written by @CST_DallasT
With the future of Josh Gordon now in question due to a second failed drug test, the Browns need to look at other options they can utilize to get the ball down the field. Gordon, the league leader in yards last season is still awaiting word if he will be suspended the entire season or just partially. Head coach Mike Pettine says ” The waiting is difficult.” And it is. Josh is without a doubt the biggest star Cleveland has on offense, when he is playing that is. After being suspended two games last year for a failed drug test, he still produced at terrific 1,600+ yard season. The Browns must prepare like he will not be there. So who will be catching the ball then? Lets take a look at the current Wide Receivers on Cleveland’s roster.
The Browns have a plethora of young WR’S on the roster currently. Although there are no star names, there are developing players with talent. One example is a big favorite of mine. Travis Benjamin. This guy can run, and I mean RUN. He stands just 5ft 10in and weighing 175lb. He was a 4th round pick for the Browns back in 2012 and so far he hasn’t been utilized very much. However I have kept a close eye on him and I’ve seen flashes. He can play football. I believe new Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shannahan will find ways to use him this year. In two years in the league he only has 403 yards to his name receiving. Expect that number to go up this season. Benjamin has a measly 23 receptions, but 8 have been for 20 or more yards. He has an average for 17.5 yards. He can break away from the corner or he can just catch the curl and run. Aside from catching he is very versatile. He has averages of 16,37, and 16 in rushing, kick return, and punt returns respectively. Another nice thing about Benjamin is his very cap friendly contract. he made just $480,00 last season. Expect his number to be called more often this year, and expect big, exciting plays from this guy.
Another receiver the Browns will look at this year is Andrew Hawkins. There have been multiple reports saying he is the standout of the OTA’S. He is another small receiver and was used in the slot in Cincinnati. However, reports are that the Browns want him on the field more than just in three wideout sets. They might have found a gem in Hawkins. He slid a little last season, but he is still young. In 2012 he had 51 catches for 533 yards and 4 TD’s. Not great numbers but it shows he can be productive. I believe he will have his best success working out of the slot. Hoyer says that he reminds him of Welker back from his Patriot days. If he can do half what Welker did, we would be in great shape. The Browns need receivers, and if they can get a 500+ yard year out of Hawkins, it will be a relief to the QB and fans. Shannahan again will love to work with a receiver like Hawkins. He has a 4 year, $13.6 million contract with Cleveland and I’m sure they will use him to get their monies worth this season.
Two vets Cleveland brought in are Nate Burleson and Miles Austin. Burleson is a wideout from Detroit. He has been an alright player throughout his 12 year career. Last year he caught for 461 yards. If the Browns could get 450+ yards out of Burleson they would be satisfied. Burleson doesn’t really interest me very much, however I am very excited for Miles Austin. Austin, out of Dallas, is always a player I wanted to be on the Brownies. He’s a bit bigger than the others at 6’2″, and is a champ at running routes. He was always one of the hidden gems in Dallas’ offense. He has had back to back 1,000 yard seasons, so he is no scrub. He can break routes perfectly and get open. Cleveland could look to him to take over while Gordon is on his hiatus. And I think he could carry the workload. I’m excited to see how he is going to fit into this offense. In Dallas he had a similar approach with a great tight end getting the ball in Witten, and this year will be the same in Jordan Cameron.
Although not a wide receiver technically there is no secret Cleveland is going to try and pass the ball to Cameron a lot. And we should. He is a beast. He is making plays at the tight end position that reminds me a lot of the tape of Kellen Winslow SR. The footwork and the hands are great. He will be the security blanket. While Cleveland may experiment with their receiving core a little, we know what this guy can do.
With Gordon we will have a dynamic passing attack. Without, it will be harder, but I believe with a Quaterback like Hoyer, the ball will be able to be thrown effectively and efficiently. My star that’s not named Cameron, will be Austin. I think he will be productive this season. My dark horse is Benjamin. I really like what he can do and I think schematically he is a mismatch to most corners. I think Week 1 vs Pittsburgh, put him on the far right and throw a deep bomb to him and make a point. Hawkins will be a big part of this offense and I will keep a close eye on him.
Ideally Gordon will be there to catch the balls. If not I think Cleveland did a good, not great job, at assembling a group that can work. There are reports Cleveland could still trade for a big wide receiver before the season and that wouldn’t be a bad idea. However,this years offense will like to see a heavy dose of running with new duo Tate and West, so hopefully there will not be too much strain to pass. We will have to wait and see how exactly this offense will be run, but one thing is for sure, we are all ready for some football.
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