The Cleveland Browns saw their share of major improvement over the course of the 2018 season and the wide receiving corps was no exception.
With the addition of now four-time Pro Bowler Jarvis Landry and the addition of a promising receiver in Antonio Callaway through the draft, the Browns were able to make a once-depleted position group have opposing defenses play them honest again.
Even though the stats at the end of the season may have been about what fans had expected at the start of the season, the expectations were elevated in training camp due to the presence of a returning Josh Gordon. Ultimately, the Gordon-Browns marriage would see its end after just one game in which Gordon would catch one pass for a 17-yard touchdown.
Once Baker Mayfield was inserted as the starter and Gordon was sent to seemingly greener pastures in New England, the receiving corps elevated its game along with the rest of the team. After the receiving group tallied 3,537 yards in 2017, ranking 10th in the AFC, the team was able to rebound with a new group and collect 4,261 yards, 29 touchdowns and 12.1 yards per catch, ranking sixth, fifth and fourth in the AFC, respectively.
Rashard Higgins and Breshad Perriman were two names that Browns fans should get used to. Both receivers were in relative obscurity just a season ago, but Higgins has proved to be a viable, go-to receiver for Mayfield (who saw some numbers dip during Higgins’ short injury absence), while Perriman collected 340 yards and nearly 22 yards per catch after being a mid-season pickup.
Landry and another rookie in Antonio Callaway will most likely be the starters going forward after combining for 124 catches for 1,562 yards and nine touchdowns.
Callaway started the season a little slow by averaging 33.3 yards and scoring only one touchdown over the team’s first six games. Once Hue Jackson and Todd Haley were fired, Callaway, along with the rest of the team, showed improvement by season’s end.
Not to mention, Landry nearly topped the 1,000-yard mark for the third time in four seasons but averaged 12.0 yards per catch for a player that was labeled a “possession receiver” coming into the season. Landry’s aforementioned Pro Bowl selection was his fourth consecutive after providing productivity, leadership and accountability to a team that had not been present in past seasons.
The 2019 season should be bright in many ways and the receiving corps will be near the forefront of this current revolution. After the successes and quick failures of past performers, this current group has the chance to at least be one of the most productive in recent Browns seasons.
If the front office can find a way to bring back both Higgins and Perriman, as both extensions are in rumored to be in the works, the Browns could have a four-man group that can pick up yardage at any time. It’s only a matter of time before touchdowns are being caught in the playoffs.