Jun 16, 2015; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (80) funds and Cleveland Browns defensive back Johnson Bademosi (24) defends during minicamp at the Cleveland Browns practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
With the Cleveland Browns two most recent acquisitions of Shane Wynn and Terrelle Pryor, it looks like the coaching staff is inadvertently letting the world know how they feel about the current state of the wide receiver corp.
With Josh Gordon out for the season, it’s understandable that the coaching staff is bringing in whoever they can to try to replace some of the production lost in Gordon’s absence. However, with the addition of Pryor and Wynn, which one could argue are no risk moves and they would be right, it appears that the Browns coaching staff is grasping at straws to upgrade the wideouts before training camp.
The only thing Pryor will realistically bring to the table is knowledge of the Cincinnati playbook. While it certainly isn’t uncommon for a front office to bring in a player with knowledge of an opposing team’s plays, this has a feel that there is a bit more to it than that.
Dwayne Bowe has been acting in a mentor and leadership role for the Browns. While there is certainly an intrinsic value there, the Browns are going to need some real production out of the big-bodied receiver. Bowe’s under-production last season in Kansas City is well documented at this point, though an argument has been made that Bowe’s production was more the result of a game-managing quarterback than his ability to make big plays, or plays in the red zone. It’s a good thing the Browns aren’t planning on going the game-managing quarterback route … Oh wait.
Taylor Gabriel’s name has been all over the Browns news sites these days as he is planning to have his breakout year in 2015. The problem with that is Gabriel is (yet another) undersized receiver who is built for the slot more so than the outside. Andrew Hawkins has the slot position pretty well locked up as it stands today. Gabriel is a shifty receiver, however he finds himself jammed up at the line too easily. He’ll be battling Brian Hartline for playing time.
May 26, 2015; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Brian Hartline (83) during organized team activities at the Cleveland Browns training facility. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Speaking of Hartline, the Browns signed the veteran receiver in the off-season to a two-year, $6 million contract. Hartline is another good-sized receiver who, along with Bowe, has had multiple 1,000-yard seasons. Hartline is a possession guy who has good awareness and isn’t afraid to run block. These are important traits, but again he lacks big play abilities and with a 4.52 40 time, he won’t be blowing the lid off of any defenses.
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Travis Benjamin, Vince Mayle and Marlon Moore are all going to see very limited, if any, playing time at wideout this season, with the possible exception of Mayle – if he’s able to separate himself from the pack in training camp. Benjamin will be used primarily for kick returns, and Moore (if he even makes the roster, which right now he’s on the outside looking in) will be used as a punt return specialist.
The coaching staff is saying all the right things about their current wide receivers, but that is their job when it comes to the media before the season starts, to spin everything. The Browns continue to bring in wide receivers even after a fairly large haul in the off-season at the position. To me this is as sure a sign as there can be that the coaching staff is not happy with the current state of the position.
Either Bowe, Hartline, Gabriel, Hawkins, or a combination of them isn’t working out to the level the front office wants and expects. Don’t be surprised if the Browns wide receiver position looks a good deal different as we progress toward the start of the season that it was projected to before summer.
Do you think the Browns receivers are going to get the job done this season?