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2012 Position Review: Wide Receiver

Posted Jan 25, 2013

As ClevelandBrowns.com looks back at the 2012 season, we break down the year position-by-position, and today’s spotlight is on the wide receivers.

Overview:

The Cleveland Browns started and finished the 2012 season with one of the youngest corps of wide receivers in the NFL, but with that youth came speed and productivity as the year came to a close.

Josh Gordon was selected in the second round of the 2012 NFL Supplemental Draft after missing the 2011 season while fulfilling an NCAA rule that forces transfers to sit out one full season before resuming their careers. Gordon transferred from Baylor University to the University of Utah.

Gordon caught 50 passes for a team-best 805 yards and five touchdowns, including a 71-yard score in the team’s 34-24 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Oct. 14, 2012.

In addition to Gordon’s selection in the Supplemental Draft, the Browns added youth and speed through the April draft when they selected Travis Benjamin out of the University of Miami in the fourth round.

Benjamin, a 5-10, 175-pound, wide receiver, gained 298 yards and scored two touchdowns on 18 receptions this fall. His longest catch of the year was a 69-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter of a 38-21 loss to the Washington Redskins on Dec. 16.

When the Browns’ quarterbacks were not throwing to the rookies in Gordon and Benjamin, they were targeting second-year wide receiver Greg Little. Little led the team with 53 receptions, and finished second with 647 yards and four touchdowns.

Little has led the Browns in receiving in each of the last two seasons. In two years, the converted running back that missed 2010 due to an NCAA suspension has been on the receiving end of 112 passes and accounted for 1,356 yards and six touchdowns.

Outstanding Performer:

Once he adjusted to the speed and conditioning of the pro game, Gordon proved to be an impact player for the Browns.

His 50 catches tied with Indianapolis’ T.Y. Hilton for the fourth-most by a rookie in the NFL. Gordon finished third among rookies in receiving yards and tied for second in touchdowns. His 12 catches of at least 20 yards were second and his three receptions of at least 40 yards were tied for third.

Gordon’s first two touchdown catches came on the only passes he caught in a 41-27 loss to the New York Giants on Oct. 7, 2012. The game against the Giants was his first of three straight with at least one touchdown reception. Later in the year, Gordon caught six passes for 116 yards, including a 44-yard score, in a 20-17 win at Oakland on Dec. 2.

Key Number:

Sixteen.

With four receptions for 39 yards in the last game of the regular season, Gordon became the fourth rookie in team history to catch at least one pass in each of the team’s 16 games. He joined wide receivers Webster Slaughter (1986) and Kevin Johnson (1999), and running back Eric Metcalf (1989) as the only Browns rookies ever to accomplish the feat.

What To Watch For:

Gordon and Benjamin’s ability to stretch the field.

Gordon hauled in touchdowns of 71 and 62 yards from rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden, and Benjamin was on the receiving end of a 69-yard score against the Redskins in the Browns’ regular-season home finale.

Those three receptions were the second, fifth and third-longest touchdown passes ever by a Browns rookie quarterback.

Combined between Gordon and Benjamin, the receiver tandem scored 42 of the 120 points tallied by Browns rookies.