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Off-Season Position Analysis

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Browns 2020 position preview: Analyzing the wide receivers

The virtual work is complete and training camp will be here sooner than we know it.

From now until then, we're going to devote some time to the different position groups that dot the Browns' roster. There's been plenty of change since the Browns last took the field, and we're examining all of it with an eye toward the 2020 season.

We're continuing with a position that has star power at the top and plenty of opportunity behind it.

The Wide Receivers

Check out photos of the wide receivers the Browns will be bringing into training camp

What we know: Even in a year full of disappointments, Beckham and Landry each cleared 1,000 yards and combined for 10 touchdowns. Landry landed in his fifth Pro Bowl and Beckham was named an alternate. They fought through injuries that have both been addressed with offseason surgeries and enter a second season together with a new set of offensive coaches looking to get even more from them. Beckham already has been deemed 100 percent recovered from his core muscle surgery while Landry has made good progress from his hip surgery. Higgins is back with the team after a disappointing 2019 season both he and the Browns believe will be an aberration. Ratley, Hodge and Taylor were all a part of the 53-man roster throughout the 2019 season but only contributed sparingly as pass-catchers while serving valuable roles on special teams. Peoples-Jones, a former five-star recruit, was added in the sixth round and brings high upside as both a red zone threat and return man. Natson, who had been with the Rams, was added in free agency to provide competition in the return game.

What we don't know: Though Beckham is considered to be 100 percent healthy, Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski made it clear the team would have a plan in place to work him in at a pace that would not subject him to further risk. The same goes for Landry, whose status for the start of training camp is unclear. That'll mean more repetitions for the other receivers, especially in the early part of camp. What it will also mean is Baker Mayfield and his top targets will have to establish chemistry in an expedited fashion as they take what they've learned via Zoom meetings and apply it to the field. This will simultaneously serve as the period wide receivers coach/pass game coordinator Chad O'Shea described as a window of opportunity for those fighting to make the team to impress. How the team fills out the room behind Beckham and Landry, of course, remains as wide open as any position group. Though he fell to the sixth round, Peoples-Jones has just as much of an opportunity to find a niche in the rotation as anyone else if he's able to hit the ground running.

The X-Factor: Higgins - It started at the beginning of 2018 training camp. Working with the second-team offense, Higgins quickly became Mayfield's favorite target, hauling in a number of big catches and touchdowns to secure his spot on the 53-man roster. He followed with a career year and was particularly effective after Mayfield took over as the starter. It just didn't carry over to 2019, as Higgins dealt with a knee injury and then rarely saw the field. The Browns are banking on the Higgins of old to resurface in 2020. If he does, that's a heck of a security blanket to have as a third receiver alongside Beckham and Landry.

The biggest number: 271 - That's how many targets Beckham and Landry had in 2019, resulting in a combined 157 receptions for 2,209 yards. The rest of Cleveland's wide receivers were targeted a combined 60 times for 28 receptions and 420 yards.

Says it all: "We are very fortunate offensively to have some players at each position that really have a lot of strengths. Obviously, Odell and Jarvis have strengths. What is most important to me and I know most important to our team and Coach Stefanski is that in everything we do and every decision we make – and those guys know this – is we are going to try to put the team first and we are going to try to put winning first." — O'Shea

How many were kept on the initial 53-man roster last year?: 5

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