NFL

Cleveland Browns: Is the WR position still a major concern?

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By the looks of things, the wide receiver position should still be a concern of the 5-11 Cleveland Browns. Greg Little was taken in the second round of the recent draft to shore up the position, but he didn’t even play last year because of an NCAA suspension.

When looking at least year’s wide receivers and their stats it’s imperative they improve if the Browns hope to make the playoffs. Last year’s leading pass receiver was Chansi Stuckey with 346 yards from 40 catches, but no touchdowns. When it came to total yards, Mohamed Massaquoi gained 483 of them on 36 passes with just two touchdowns. These numbers are obviously not good enough and are a big reason why Cleveland was the 29th worst passing team in the NFL.

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Eric Mangini lost his head coaching job and Pat Shurmur, who runs the west coast offense, is in to replace him. This means we may see Cleveland utilize a short passing attack as the receivers will be relied on to gain more yards by making plays themselves. However, the Browns don’t have the wide receivers to fit the bill.

The club seems to be set at quarterback with Colt McCoy in charge, but now he needs some help on the outside to succeed in the west coast offense. He’s accurate enough at over 60 per cent as a rookie last year, but needs somebody reliable to catch the ball and gain some yards.

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One of the answers could be Carlton Mitchell, who sat on the bench most of last year in his rookie season. The 6-foot 2, 215 pounder has size the speed to stretch out the field and could feature more this season under Shurmur.

The talented Little out of North Carolina could also help as he’s 6 foot 3 and 230 lbs. He’s good at catching the ball in traffic and holding off tacklers. Little’s probably already got a position locked up and will be his to lose at this point because of the lack of depth at WR. Julio Jones could have been had in the draft, but the Browns traded away their pick and he was taken sixth overall by the Falcons. Little was taken in the second round, 57th overall. Little’s biggest problem might be getting back into game shape after sitting out last season.

Third-year wide receiver Brian Robiskie could also produce more with the west coast offense, but he’s really just an average player. If the Browns end up with a one-dimensional offense, their opponents will just focus on halting running back Peyton Hillis.

When you look at the wide receivers, Stuckey’s hands are decent enough, but he’s not that fast and isn’t the greatest on his feet. There’s a chance he might not return anyway. Massaquoi suffered a little from the sophomore jinx as he had a better rookie season the year before. He’s not bad as the team’s second or third wideout, but should improve with the new offense.

Robiskie ended the season with 29 receptions and three touchdowns and improved as the season wore on. He’s got good hands and can run precise routes. He’s not the fastest guy around, but can get in the open. Josh Cribbs had 23 receptions and a touchdown and is a decent punt and kick returner and shows up on the special teams once a while.

Talent-wise, the Browns wide receivers aren’t really that bad. What they need to do though is start producing or it’ll be another long season.