The biggest position issue for the Cleveland Browns coming into the preseason is at wide receiver. The receiving corps features only two receivers from last season, Josh Gordon and Travis Benjamin, but Gordon is facing a possible year- long league suspension. The Browns then chose not to choose a wide receiver in the draft, but looked to free agency and undrafted rookies. Hopefully the Browns don’t lose Gordon for the entire season, or one of these new names will step up and produce.
- Miles Austin
Austin is the most recognizable name on this list. Austin has been an elite receiver before, but age and injuries have hampered the later part of his career. Austin has dealt with hamstring issues before and couldn’t participate until training camp because of it. The Browns see the potential in the former Pro Bowl receiver, but at 30 years old he would be a great number two or three receiver on an established team. He will probably have to step into the number one role until the Browns figure out Gordon’s situation or find someone else.
- Nate Burleson
Burleson is another longtime veteran looking to stay in the game. He was released from the Detroit Lions at the end of last season because of injuries and age. Burleson is 32 years old and would make for a great number three receiver. He probably is going to play more of a leadership role for younger players and step up and play the number three receiver behind a younger player.
- Travis Benjamin
The only remaining player from last years receiving corps that isn’t in trouble. Benjamin had a severe season ending ACL injury last year on a punt return. He has recovered from it but hopefully hasn’t lost his speed because of it. Benjamin hopefully will be able to play more of a role this year after playing behind guys like Davone Bess and Greg Little. Hopefully his experience and skills will give him an advantage over the younger receivers. With Justin Gilbert practicing at punt and kick returner, Benjamin looks at losing a position that was all his last season.
- Andrew Hawkins
Hawkins is another veteran that the Browns are lucky to have. Hawkins was brought over from Cincinnati and is a great addition as a slot receiver. Hawkins has the experience and his only downside to him are his injuries. Hawkins will make the team and could step up as a receiver and make some great plays.
- Anthony Armstrong
Armstrong is another older veteran looking to make the team. His chances are becoming smaller and smaller as other younger players step up. At 31 years old and only 4 years of experience, Armstrong looks to be looking at getting a last shot from the Browns after bouncing around the league.
- Charles Johnson
Charles Johnson has been a hopeful as an upcoming wide out. Johnson was signed off the Packers’ practice squad and was a loss to the organization. When he showed up in Cleveland last year though, they found he was playing with a torn ACL. Johnson sat out last year but has been ready for OTA’s and training camp this year. His size and speed make him a great candidate to step into a leading role on the team.
- Marlon Moore
Marlon Moore was signed by the Browns yesterday after waiving Kenny Shaw. Moore is not really a known name in the NFL after four seasons, and his numbers show that as well. He has a career total yardage of 306 yards and two touchdowns. The last touchdown was in 2012 with the Miami Dolphins. Moore will need to show that he has skills better than the rookies.
- Willie Snead
- Taylor Gabriel
- Jonathan Krause
- Chandler Jones
Snead, Gabriel, Krause and Jones are all undrafted rookies and will have to show they can be better than the veterans on the team. So far, not much has been heard about them in camp, but only time will tell. The team already waived one of the undrafted free agents, and I don’t expect any of them will make the final roster.
The Cleveland Browns will have to see who will step up and when. With a new head coach, offensive coordinator, and possibly a new quarterback, the Browns need to rely on these guys for now. Luckily they will still have Pro Bowl tight end Jordan Cameron, who has said he is ready to take the load of receptions this season if Gordon is suspended. Cameron was able to get hot with Brian Hoyer last year and looks to extend their relationship this year. Having Cameron will pay off, and hopefully it will be enough.