Browns' receiving corps looks like Fantasy wasteland
What are the Browns doing? Assembling the worst wide receiver corps in the NFL.
Miles Austin (24 catches, no TDs in 11 games last year) was drawing zero interest around the NFL until Cleveland snapped him up. Hamstring problems have rendered him totally ineffective. Earl Bennett is a solid possession receiver but, like Austin, does not scare defenses at all.
Late last week they joined a sorry cast that includes Nate Burleson, who just broke his arm again and turns 33 in August; Travis Benjamin, still recovering from ACL surgery; and free-agent signee Andrew Hawkins.
The speedy Hawkins (5-7, 180 pounds) could do a lot of damage from the slot with Gordon lined up outside. Without Gordon, Hawkins and tight end Jordan Cameron will draw loads of defensive attention. Cameron will struggle to duplicate his 2013 numbers.
Cleveland released Greg Little on Friday. Although he's shown bad hands and has gotten into trouble off the field, Little at least has the physical tools to threaten defenses. And he was entering his contract year.
The Browns knew about Gordon's potential suspension -- which could last eight games or more -- and neglected to pick a receiver in a wideout-heavy draft.
"We're confident that we have a plan," coach Mike Pettine told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "The situation didn't call for panic. That's something that we weren't going to do. The league obviously prohibits me from speaking on that specifically but, just in general, I know that I agree with [GM] Ray [Farmer] 1,000 percent, we have to build this team so that no one player drives the ship. That we can be insulated losing players for extended periods of time potentially is part of the game.
"Successful franchises are the ones that have enough depth built and enough options to account for it – coaching-wise, scheme-wise to account for it – I think those are the ones that are successful."
Before Gordon's potential suspension broke, Nathan Zegura took him 11th overall in one of our offseason mock drafts. In our latest mock last week, Gordon lasted until Round 7. He's the only Browns' receiver worth taking in standard leagues, though Hawkins is worth a late-round pick in PPR formats.
Thanks to Cleveland's inexplicable plan at wideout, Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel will have a hard time finding anyone open.
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