Let’s face it, the Browns need someone to step up at the receiver position. We know it, the Browns know it and the receivers know it. The Browns drafted four receivers in 2016 and Corey Coleman was the only one who had any real production. Even that was far less than one would expect from a first-round draft pick. The team needs a reliable third receiver behind veteran Kenny Britt and Coleman.
Ricardo Louis was selected in the fourth round of that 2016 draft; the second of the four receivers selected by Cleveland. A big target out of Auburn, Louis had modest stats in his collegiate career (98/1338/8). The Browns likely saw Louis as a SPARQ pick a formula developed by Nike which measures player athleticism by outputting a single composite score) and it’s understandable when you look at the data. Louis stands in at 6’2” and 215 pounds. He ran a 4.43 40-yard dash and ripped off 18 reps at 225 pounds on the bench. If you were to build a receiver on Madden, he would probably wind up looking a lot like Ricardo Louis.
Possessing great physical tools is generally not enough to guarantee success in the sports world. Louis was targeted in only half of the Browns' games in 2016. He hauled in 18 of his 36 targets for 205 yards but did not find the end zone. Many guys would be happy with that and work on their own to do better the next season but not Louis. He strives to be finished product as a receiver.
Ricardo reached out to Brandon Marshall for help. Marshall is a polished receiver and one who could very well be on his way to Canton when he concludes his career. It took some time but Marshall agreed to work out with Louis before training camp this season.
"I think it says a lot about his character, I think it says a lot about his upbringing, it shows that he is on the right way. It starts with surrounding yourself with great people, to help you build a blueprint, and then executing on whatever you guys put in place." – Brandon Marshall
Louis has shown determination and a great work ethic. Yes, he only has one reception headed into the Browns fourth preseason game, but it was quite a display of his ability. Louis caught a quick slant, shoved one would-be tackler down and then lowered his head to plow over another Saint for the first down. It was only a 10 yard gain, but it was a glimpse of the ability of Ricardo Louis.
What will the Browns get out of Ricardo Louis in 2017? No one can truly say, but he is primed to see much more playing time. He has all the tools and has shown the desire to get better and to be a key component of this team. He would provide another big target with speed to go along with Kenny Britt.
Louis, along with other Browns receivers, will have a chance to use his speed since DeShone Kizer is Hue Jackson’s choice as the starter. The deep ball Kizer throws should help in yardage totals. Ricardo Louis has an excellent chance to have a productive season as he matures into a legitimate NFL receiver. Expect close to 40 catches and a yardage total of close to 500.
The Cleveland Browns need someone to step up at the receiver position. Ricardo Louis is the most likely of the corps to take that third spot and he has the skills to prosper there. Here’s hoping that he uses this opportunity to show the world what he can do.
Follow the author: @CSTRodB