The Cleveland Browns have a solid group of wide receivers for 2020, but it will cause the organization to have some tough decisions to make.
When looking at the Cleveland Browns roster, it is clear they do not lack any weapons on the offensive side of the ball. Now with a reinforced offensive line, quarterback Baker Mayfield has the chance to lead a potentially explosive unit.
Mayfield will certainly have his options to throw to, whether it be the wide receivers or tight ends. Both groups boast solid depth and Cleveland’s front office added more players to both the wide receiver and tight ends room.
The tight end position has become an area of focus for the Browns since the hiring of head coach Kevin Stefanski. Despite the recent trends in football with offenses generally featuring three wide receivers on the field, Stefanski’s offense resembles an early 2000’s offense.
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Stefanski prefers to use multiple tight ends and generally runs his offense out of 12-personnel. In 2019, the Minnesota Vikings operated out of 12-personnel on 34 percent of their offensive snaps, according to Sharp Football Stats. The Vikings used 12-personnel the most in the NFL.
With the use of multiple tight ends, the Browns have built a deep group of tight ends, including Austin Hooper, David Njoku, Stephen Carlson, Pharaoh Brown, and Harrison Bryant. Because of Stefanski’s use of tight ends, the Browns may keep four tight ends on their 53-man roster this season.
If the Browns do decide to keep four tight ends on their 53-man roster, that will put the Browns in a tough position when it comes to making decisions with their wide receivers. The use of extra tight ends will cause the Browns to carry fewer wide receivers on the active roster.
As Stefanski heavily utilizes 12-personnel, he does not often put three or more wide receivers on the field. Stefanski’s offense in Minnesota only featured three or more receivers on the field on 25 percent of their offensive snaps, according to Sharp Football Stats.
In that case, it would make sense if the Browns only carried four wide receivers on their active roster, and at most five wide receivers. With the talent the Browns boast at wide receiver, it will force the Browns to make tough decisions at wide receiver.
In the last week, the Browns selected wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft, and then re-signed Rashard Higgins to a one-year deal. Those two receivers will be joining Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Damion Ratley, Taywan Taylor, KhaDarel Hodge, JoJo Natson, and others in the wide receiver room.
It seems pretty evident that Beckham, Landry, Higgins, and Peoples-Jones will make the roster, barring any unforeseen circumstances. If the Browns do carry five wide receivers, that would leave only one roster spot available for the rest of the receivers.
Depending on who the Browns feel fits their offense the best or if they would rather carry a superior special teams player, that will likely decide who wins the No. 5 wide receiver job. But no matter what, the Browns will have some tough decisions to make at wide receiver.