Cleveland Browns wide receiver Corey Coleman had a bit of a disappointing rookie season, but the Browns are looking for him to bounce back in 2017.
The buzz this week around the Cleveland Browns has been focused on suspended wide receiver Josh Gordon, who is in the process of making his annual application for reinstatement to the NFL.
For our purposes today, let’s assume that Gordon clears all the league hurdles, makes it through training camp and the preseason without any slip ups, and actually takes the field for the Browns in a regular season game for the first time in 2014.
How will the offense line up?
That was the basis of a speculative Tweet on Thursday from the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport:
It is an interesting question, especially as Coleman spent the majority of his rookie year working as a wide receiver on the outside. Taking a look back at some of the pre-draft talk about Coleman, it was a bit of a mixed bag when it came to his ability as a slot receiver.
"Coleman’s issues with drops near the middle of the field could be a concern if teams see him next as a slot receiver due to his lack of size."
It’s a valid point, but dropping the ball would seem to be an issue no matter where a wide receiver lines up, yes?
Stephen White at SB Nation also raised a good question about another key aspect of playing in the slot:
"However, Coleman is going to have to give you something as a blocker on the next level, especially if you plan on playing him in the slot at all. I can’t see a way that it’s not a question mark right now."
It is all speculation at this point, of course, and based on the very unstable proposition that Gordon is not only reinstated but also remains on the Browns roster.
But no matter what happens with Gordon, the Browns are going to need Coleman to build off his rookie season and consistently give the type of production that led the Browns to make him a first-round pick last year, which head coach Hue Jackson highlighted this week at the owners meetings.
"“He’s worked extremely hard thus far this offseason, and he wants to come in and prove that last year was just what it was, his first year in the league and then he needed to understand what this league was all about, and I think he found out very quickly there’s more to it than what he knew and he’s looking forward it. I think he’s going to take the next jump this year.”"
Coleman may not have had the greatest of rookie years, but much of that was due to missing six games with a broken hand and having to play with the likes of Robert Griffin III at quarterback. But if you project his numbers over a full 16 game season, he would have finished with 53 receptions for 661 yards and five touchdowns – not bad considering the state of the Browns offense.
The opportunity to through a second offseason and a return to health should have fans feeling optimistic that Coleman will make the jump that the team is looking for in 2017.