Jaelen Strong matches what the Cleveland Browns need at wide receiver
The Cleveland Browns announced the signing of wide receiver Jaelen Strong on Wednesday. The move came out of nowhere, but it makes a lot of sense for Cleveland.
The Cleveland Browns made another interesting move on Wednesday when they announced the signing of wide receiver Jaelen Strong.
The Browns have already signed two players with name-value before the new league year and real free agency period begins on March 13. The Browns signing both players – Kareem Hunt and Strong – was generally a surprise to the Dawg Pound.
Hunt was a surprise because he is still being investigated by the NFL and the Browns already have a starter at running back. But the reason why Strong is seen as a surprise is because he has never lived up to his potential and missed all of last season dealing with a torn ACL.
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But when considering the 26-year-old wide receiver, the move makes a lot of sense for the Browns. The Browns have plenty of receivers that are better suited to play in the slot and to attack the middle portions of the field.
In Strong, the Browns are getting a receiver that has a bigger frame and ability to out muscle defensive backs. Using his frame, Strong is able to take advantage of jump ball opportunities. Despite his size, he was still able to run a 4.44 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, showing he has the speed and size to play on the outside.
However, Strong is four years removed from running that 40-time. He has also suffered multiple injuries – including a torn ACL – that could limit his athletic potential in 2019. But obviously the Browns are willing to see if Strong still has the athleticism he showed four years ago.
Cleveland showed last season that Freddie Kitchens’ offense helps get the best out of wide receivers that have not lived up to their potential. Just look at the success that Rashard Higgins and Breshad Perriman had last season.
Much like Perriman, Strong is trying to revitalize his career. He entered the NFL with plenty of athletic potential but has never been able to convert his athleticism into being a productive NFL wide receiver.
Despite being drafted in the 2015 NFL Draft, Strong has already had a whirlwind of a career. He has never played a full 16-game season in the NFL, reducing his opportunities to develop his game.
Entering the 2015 NFL Draft, Strong was seen as one of the top wide receiver draft prospects. However, he ended up being drafted in third round by the Houston Texans. His fall was believed to be contributed to an injury and also potential conduct issues while at Arizona State.
Despite his fall, Strong played a decent amount for the Texans during his rookie season. In 10 games, Strong caught 14 passes for 161 yards and three touchdowns. He put up similar numbers in 2016, but his season was cut short due to a serious ankle sprain.
The ankle sprain started the rough patch of Strong’s career. He was suspended the first game of the 2017 season for violating the NFL Substance Abuse Policy. He played one game for the Texans that season before being released.
He was signed by the Jaguars that season, but did not make the active roster until the end of the season. In that one game, he caught three passes for 38 yards and a touchdown. However he suffered a torn ACL in that appearance. He was cut by the Jaguars and missed the entire 2018 season due to the injury.
If Strong is able to return from his ACL injury and show that he possesses the same athleticism he had a few seasons ago, the Browns could potentially have a found a steal. The Browns have a highly respected wide receivers coach in Adam Henry. Unlike Strong’s previous coaches, Henry may be able to turn Strong’s potential into actual NFL ability.
Compared to the wide receivers currently on the Browns depth chart, Strong brings a potentially different skill-set. Although there have been questions about his route running in the intermediate part of the field, Strong’s frame and speed gives him the potential of being a good vertical threat on the outside of the formation.
Although Strong may already be considered a bust because of his lack of production in the NFL, it was a low-risk, potentially high-reward signing by the Browns. If the Browns can do the same with Strong as they did with Perriman last season, there are reasons for Browns fans to be excited about this signing.