Browns offensive standout No. 1: Austin Watkins, WR
One of the most pleasant surprises for the Browns during this preseason has been the emergence of wide receiver Austin Watkins. The Browns signed Watkins, who was most recently with the Birmingham Stallions in the USFL, back on July 22nd, and all he has done since he put on the orange helmet is route defenders up and make plays.
Watkins has flashed and made splash plays in both of his preseason performances, but Thursday night against the Eagles he put the entire NFL on notice. Watkins outgained the Eagles top four receivers combined by himself, racking up 139 receiving yards and a touchdown on seven receptions.
Cleveland clearly wanted to get him the rock early and often, and he rewarded them by making play after play.
One thing is clear. Watkins is an NFL caliber wide receiver, but the question is, will that be in Cleveland or with another team. NFL rosters always come down to a numbers game, and the Browns seem to have five locks to make the roster at wide receiver.
There are a few factors that could keep the Browns from putting Watkins on their initial 53-man roster. Do the Browns think Marquise Goodwin will return from his ongoing battle with blood clots? Do the Browns think Jakeem Grant is fully recovered from his ruptured Achilles tendon and could regain his status as an elite return man? Are the Browns still trying to make Anthony Schwartz a thing?
After what Watkins has put on tape over the last three weeks, it is impossible to think that he would clear waivers and wind up back on the Browns practice squad if they decide to cut him. If a bird in the hand is truly worth two in the bush, then Austin Watkins will be on the Browns sideline on September 10th.