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Browns 2017 positional recaps: Josh Gordon's return gives young WRs room a boost

Posted Jan 22, 2018

Gordon had 18 catches for 335 yards and a TD in five games

​Breaking down the Browns' 2017 season, position by position. Today we’re looking at Cleveland’s wide receivers

By the numbers:

Ricardo Louis — 16 games; 9 starts; 27 catches, 357 yards

Josh Gordon — 5 games, 5 starts; 18 catches, 335 yards, 1 TD

Rashard Higgins — 15 games, 4 starts; 27 catches, 312 yards, 2 TDs

Corey Coleman — 9 games, 8 starts; 23 catches, 305 yards, 2 TDs

*Kenny Britt — 9 games, 4 starts; 18 catches, 233 yards, 2 TDs

Kasen Williams — 7 games, 2 starts; 9 catches, 84 yards

* Bryce Treggs — 6 games, 1 start; 5 catches, 79 yards

Sammie Coates — 12 games; 1 start; 6 catches, 70 yards

*no longer with team

How was 2017? A young and generally untested position group struggled to consistently produce throughout the season. Further evidence of that dynamic was how the Browns’ top-three pass catchers were running back Duke Johnson Jr. (74 catches, 693 yards, 3 TDs) and tight ends Seth DeValve (33 for 395, 1 TD) and David Njoku (32 for 386, 4 TDs).

Meanwhile, Cleveland’s receivers were led by second-year player Ricardo Louis, who caught 27 passes for 357 yards. Corey Coleman, the team’s first-round NFL Draft pick in 2016, missed significant time with a broken hand for the second straight season. He finished with 23 catches for 305 yards and two touchdowns. Kenny Britt, whom the Browns signed in free agency to be the room’s veteran presence, was cut in December after posting 18 catches for 233 yards and two touchdowns in nine games. Josh Gordon, who returned from a multi-year suspension, was a late bright spot (more on that in a second) and gave Cleveland its first offensive playmaker outside of Johnson.

Reasons to be optimistic? In five games, Gordon flashed the talent that made him one of the NFL’s most electrifying playmakers and its leading receiver in 2013. The former Pro Bowler, who hadn’t played since 2014 because of multiple violations of the league's substance abuse policy, finished with 18 catches for 335 yards and a touchdown. Gordon put together his best game (four catches, 115 yards) against the Steelers in the season finale. Given what he put on tape this past year, Gordon’s poised to have a big season in 2018. Other bright spots include Higgins, who caught a career high two touchdowns in Pittsburgh and Coleman, who still has yet to show what he can do in an injury-free season.

What might happen this offseason? The Browns will continue to develop the members of their 2016 draft class — Coleman, Louis and Higgins — while head coach Hue Jackson made clear the team views Gordon as a big part of its future. With ample cap space, Cleveland can also add talent via free agency. Notable players due to hit the market this spring include: Miami’s Jarvis Landry, Jacksonville’s Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee, Seattle’s Paul Richardson and former Browns standout Terrelle Pryor, who caught 77 balls for 1,007 yards in 2016.

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