Cleveland Browns: Which new receiver makes the greatest impact?

Apr 28, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Corey Coleman (Baylor) is selected by the Cleveland Browns as the number fifteen overall pick in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at Auditorium Theatre. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 28, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Corey Coleman (Baylor) is selected by the Cleveland Browns as the number fifteen overall pick in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at Auditorium Theatre. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

Can the Cleveland Browns find a deep threat who will transform the offense in 2016?

The Cleveland Browns have an abundance of wide receivers entering training camp, with a diversity of styles. Whether this bodes well for the team has yet to be determined, but the intent is clear. The Browns have not had an even remotely successful group of receivers on the roster in years, and the front office is determined to reverse this trend.

Sure, the Browns have gotten steady contributions from last season’s breakout tight end, Gary Barnidge, and Josh Gordon was once arguably the best receiver in football. However, Gordon’s recent history doesn’t even involve a football field, and while Barnidge is reliable, he is not the big-play threat the Browns so desperately crave.

Now, under new offensive minded head coach Hue Jackson, the Browns can no longer survive a season without a vertical threat. Every NFL team now seems to have one, and every team maximizes their big-play receiver’s ability. The Browns are fortunate to have signed one of the better quarterbacks when it comes to throwing the deep ball, Robert Griffin III, and having talent at the receiver position to take advantage of this is a necessity.

The Browns were not hesitant to emphasize their need for offensive weapons during the draft, drafting four wide receivers and a tight end. The objective here is to hopefully find a rookie receiver who can become a productive long-term solution at the position.

Under coach Jackson, the Browns’ attempts to strengthen this group of receivers shows the distinct dedication of the organization to improve in an area that they know they must upgrade in to increase their win total from a year ago.

It appears that the Browns are changing their strategy a bit after making many additions to a struggling receiver group through free agency the past two seasons. Miles Austin, Brian Hartline, Andrew Hawkins, Davone Bess and Dwayne Bowe are often considered failed offseason signings made by the Browns. These were all attempts to find a spark on offense that could carry this team in receiving. Unfortunately, each of these proven receivers did not exactly pan out as intended for the organization.

The hope is that through the draft, the fortune of this receiver group will change. The Browns know that not all four of the receivers they drafted will turn into superstars. In fact, they probably won’t all make the 53-man roster. This is precisely the reasoning for the draft strategy, as the Browns know that they will most likely find at least one “diamond in the rough” out of the five pass catchers they carefully selected.

The Browns wasted no time beginning to draft big play threats who can make an immediate impact, selecting Corey Coleman No.15 overall. Coleman has participated in mandatory minicamp and has impressed with his natural football instincts. There is no doubt Coleman has a bright future in the NFL, and it may have been that simple for the Browns to find this elusive big play receiver.

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Even so, the Browns didn’t settle for just a single pass catcher, drafting more in the fourth and fifth rounds. The Browns are hoping to develop these playmakers, or at the very least, take a serious look at them in training camp. Seth DeValve out of Princeton and Jordan Payton out of UCLA are each more reliable, sure-handed large targets. They may not thrill fans with big play excitement, but much like Barnidge, they will ensure the Browns that they do have someone to draw up a play for when they absolutely need a short gain.

On the contrary, Ricardo Louis out of Auburn and Rashard Higgins out of Colorado State provide a much different type of receiver. The deep, vertical threats in today’s NFL are plentiful, and the Browns aim to acquire two of these before the season begins. Louis and Higgins will likely compete for a spot, as long as they can impress in training camp.

To have a receiver alongside Coleman who can run routes effectively and burn defenses with blazing speed would be a major bonus for a Browns offense that must excel in the passing game. Louis and Higgins each have the capability to provide the Browns with this speed, even though they each may be significant underdogs to make any impact at the NFL level.

When examining each receiver, it is evident they all bring potential to the table. Each will provide the Browns with a different style of play which the coaching staff will have to maximize. If the Browns’ new receivers can mesh well together and make the most of what they bring to the offense, the Browns’ will be more of a juggernaut offensively due to an improved passing game.

Given the recent history of Browns receivers, it wouldn’t be a major shock if the Browns were to keep more receivers than usual on the roster, in order to increase the chances that one surprises. Plus, a new quarterback who can throw the deep ball accurately when healthy will reward the organization even more if they do finally find a receiver who can make big plays at the NFL level.

Next: Bad contracts weighing down the defense?

If this is the case, the challenge of putting an end to a streak of eight consecutive losing seasons may not be so insurmountable.