Editor's Note: Over the next two weeks leading to training camp, Nathan Zegura, Jason Gibbs and Anthony Poisal will be giving their thoughts and predictions on some of the biggest questions surrounding the Browns as they prepare for training camp.
The No. 1 wide receiver role for the Browns has been known for a while — Amari Cooper, acquired via trade in March, is expected to carry what will likely be the largest workload among all receivers in 2022.
After him, the Browns have a few guys capable of breakout seasons. Donovan Peoples-Jones has made several memorable plays since he was drafted in 2020. Anthony Schwartz is a 2021 third-round pick entering his second season and will be expected to take a leap. David Bell, a 2022 third-round pick, looked crisp in the spring and could carve a sizable rookie role with a quality training camp.
Who does Zegura, Gibbs and Poisal think is in for the biggest year?
Nathan Zegura: The Browns should have their most prolific passing attack arguably since Brian Sipe won the MVP back in 1980, which is the only time the Browns have ever had a 4,000-yard passer. That means there should be plenty of production to go around in the passing game and no one is better positioned to reap the rewards than Peoples-Jones. Yes, Cooper is the No. 1 and I am expecting a monster year from the Chief at tight end as well as a significant contribution from rookie Bell, but I am a DPJ guy and believe he will have a career-year in 2022. In his first two seasons in the NFL, DPJ has been targeted just 78 times. He has turned those 78 opportunities into 48 catches for 901 yards (18.8 yards per catch) and five touchdowns. He has produced a ridiculously efficient 10-plus yards per target in both of his NFL seasons with a career average of 11.6 yards per target. In other words, if DPJ were to see 100 targets this season and just maintain his career averages, he would have 62 receptions for 1,160 yards and seven touchdowns. That would be a monster campaign and you have to think that DPJ could become even more efficient and productive with improved quarterback play. He is a favorite of WR Coach Chad O'Shea and works his butt off to improve every single year. Add it all up and that's why I think DPJ's third season in the NFL will absolutely be one to remember.
Jason Gibbs: Poisal asking the tough questions early on this countdown. I think it's between Peoples-Jones and Bell. I'm expecting big things from Schwartz and I'm excited to see Jakeem Grant and Michael Woods but Peoples-Jones and Bell are going to be important pieces for this offense. If I have to pick one I'm going with Bell just barely over DPJ. I think Bell could be special. Even though he says he dropped a pass in the off-season program on CBD we had him down for zero drops. You can see his confidence growing daily and his route running rivals that of Amari Cooper. I think Bell more than lives up to the hype and I think people that sleep on this position group overall are making a mistake.
Anthony Poisal: My pick is for DPJ. He was fantastic in a few games last year and seems poised to play his best football yet in 2022. Nathan ran through several promising stats that show why, but the progress Peoples-Jones has made since he was a sixth-round pick in 2020 has been nothing short of impressive. He figures to be one of the players who will benefit most from having a QB like Deshaun Watson throwing the football — whenever Watson will be able to do so — and should still be able to be a heavy contributor regardless of who the QB is. I'm optimistic in Bell and Schwartz as well and think both guys could build big years, but I think the development of DPJ's route-running, catch skills and straight-line speed will show on a consistent, weekly basis this year.