Jun 16, 2015; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (80) runs as Cleveland Browns defensive back Ibraheim Campbell (30) defends during minicamp at the Cleveland Browns practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
The Cleveland Browns had, if we’re being kind here, an unheralded group of wide receivers in 2014.
Much to the consternation of some fans and media members, who continue to beat the drum for a “big-name wide receiver,” the Browns took the field for 16 weeks with a group of receivers that were small in stature and just as short in name recognition.
The situation will be similar in 2015 (although the Browns did get bigger at the wide receiver position) as general manager Ray Farmer continued to build the team from the inside out, with a focus on building a dominant defense complimented by a ball-controlling offense.
The biggest difference between this year and 2014 is that the Browns know for certain that they will not have the services of Josh Gordon, who is serving an indefinite suspension for continued violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policies.
“There’s pressure on all of us, which is a good thing. We still have a lot to prove. That’s a good situation to be in. Once the season rolls around, we’ll have to keep this going.” – Andrew Hawkins
As talented as he can be, Gordon’s return to the field last season helped to disrupt what the Browns had going on offense through the season’s first 10 games, as former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and former quarterback Brian Hoyer tried to hard to incorporate Gordon back into the offense.
While it wasn’t all his fault, obviously, it is also not a coincidence that the Browns went just 1-5 once Gordon returned to the lineup.
Looking ahead to 2015, while the Browns are going to do everything in their power to, in head coach Mike Pettine’s word, “de-emphasize” the importance of the quarterback position, they still need to pass the ball from time to time, so we need to determine who will be on the receiving end of Josh McCown’s passes come the fall.
The Browns currently have 14 players listed as wide receivers on the roster (in alphabetical order): Travis Benjamin, Dwayne Bowe, Kevin Cone, Taylor Gabriel, Gordon, Brian Hartline, Andrew Hawkins, Darius Jennings, Josh Lenz, Vince Mayle, Marlon Moore, Terrelle Pryor, Rodney Smith and Shane Wynn.
We already know that Gordon won’t be playing this fall, so that leaves 13 players fighting for a roster spot. Last year the Browns kept five wide receivers, but looking at the list of players we wouldn’t be surprised if they up that number to six this year.
So who will it be?
Next: The Big 3