All things considered, Browns should pick a wide receiver at No. 54

Amari Cooper, Cleveland Browns
Amari Cooper, Cleveland Browns / Richard Rodriguez/GettyImages

In less than two weeks, the NFL draft will be here and while the Cleveland Browns don't have a first-round pick for the third year in a row, it's still important they hit on their top picks. Their first selection is the 54th pick and due to the very complete roster in front of them, there are a lot of options regarding what position should be selected.

Looking across the board in terms of depth and how long the stars of the position group are under contract, the answer jumps off the page. A wide receiver needs to be picked with the 54th selection.

This answer may be surprising since the Browns traded for Jerry Juedy a month ago, but history says the team can't bank on one WR trade to improve their position. Elijah Moore was handed to Cleveland for a pick swap all for him to be statistically underwhelming last season. Now add in the uncertainty of former draft picks Cedric Tillman and David Bell, who combined for less than 400 yards last season, you have three of your top five guys at WR as a question mark.

When looking at the future, Cleveland's best pass catcher, Amari Cooper, isn't getting any younger. And while he statistically had the best two-year run in the history of the franchise, he has also battled injuries and his contract is void after this season.

It's scary to think about a future without Cooper as he is a bigger part of the passing game as some realize. Especially when he was so dominant despite having five different starting quarterbacks since arriving in Cleveland.

Digging deeper Cooper over the past two seasons statistically accounted for 22% of the Browns' catches, 31.2% of the team's receiving yards, 34% of the team's contested catches, and 32.5% of the team's passing touchdowns.

To put that in perspective let's look at two different receivers the past two seasons on their respective teams, Ja'Marr Chase and AJ Brown.

Chase accounted for 22% of catches, 25% of the receiving yards, 26% of contested catches, and 25% of the team's passing TD. Brown had a larger contribution percentage but still within Cooper's range with 27% of the team's catches, 35% of the teams receiving yards, 40.2% of the team's contested catches, and 37% of the teams receiving TDs. If the Eagles or Bengals knew they only had one guaranteed year left of Brown/Chase, they without a doubt would take a swing at receiver early in the draft.

Some will quickly point out that Cooper could very easily be back in 2025 as nothing is certain but he will be 30 come the season opener this year and the league has not been kind to this body. Yes, he's only missed six games in 10 seasons but that doesn't mean he's not gutting through injury.

His first season in Cleveland it was clear while being dominant, he wasn't 100%. He would pull up after plays and we would later learn Cooper had an inguinal groin sports hernia in December of 2022 requiring him to get offseason surgery.

Despite a successful procedure, we would still see this linger on the injury report for most of last season and once again you could see him in clear pain pulling up after the play. Now add in the concussion and heel bruise injury he sustained at the end of the season. Cooper is a true Iron Man for putting up the numbers he has despite his injuries, but eventually, they will catch up to him.

In conclusion, while there's not a true and clear hole in this roster, picking a wide receiver at 54 makes the most sense. The Browns' best receiver is aging and there's no concrete evidence that says the team can trust who they have in that room right now to carry the load.

Sure a breakout season from Jerry Juedy or Elijah Moore would quickly change the narrative but there's no guarantee it will happen. Luckily for Cleveland, there's plenty of top-end receiver talent that will be available at 54, so they won't just be picking from scraps.

The Browns are and have been all-in on QB Deshaun Watson, so they need to make sure that the receiver position is the most competitive on the team. So unless a stud falls from the first round, wide receiver should be their pick.

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