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2020 NFL Draft

Browns 'not afraid' to go after WRs with any of their 12 draft picks

Asked for his philosophy on the wide receiver position, Sashi Brown didn't have a specific answer, but what he said reinforced the Browns' stance on how "best player available" applies to all spots on the field.

"We would like to have talented wide receivers on our roster, and we feel like the draft is a good place to get them," the Browns executive vice president of football operations said at last week's pre-draft press conference. "I know that is probably not the answer you were looking for, but we are not afraid to go get a wide receiver."

Selecting a wide receiver early in the draft would buck recent team history but could provide an immediate injection of talent and competition to a group that returns without its top producer from 2015 (Travis Benjamin). And even if the Browns wait until Day 3 to attack the position, opportunities abound in later rounds to supplement the group with players ready to produce.

"We are going to look to see what the draft provides," Brown said. "There were a couple of guys that we talked to in free agency, as well, that we didn't acquire, but it is a position that we know we would like to have some very young, talented people at and we will look at that."

In their last five drafts, the Browns have selected three wide receivers with a combined 42 picks. Greg Little, picked 59th overall in the 2011 second round, was the highest selected of the bunch. None are currently with the team and none of the eight receivers currently listed on the Browns roster were drafted by Cleveland.

At last month's owners meetings, Browns coach Hue Jackson expressed his desire to add "bigger, faster guys" to the team's wide receiver group. Brown has spoken of the need to acquire a wide receiver the Browns can count on to make tough catches on third downs, a role veteran Miles Austin filled well before he was injured in 2014.

"It can have a huge impact on the game in terms of contributing to both the passing and the run game when you have a threat down the field, a threat in the red zone when the field gets short on you," Brown said. "Those are important pieces to have."

A combined 11 receivers have been selected in the first round of the past two drafts and 10 others went in the second round. And while the majority of receivers who led the NFL in yardage this past season were selected in the earlier rounds, two of the top four were respectively plucked from the sixth round (Antonio Brown) and fourth round (Brandon Marshall).

At picks Nos. 8 and 32, the Browns have a bevy of options if they're looking for a wide receiver, and likely would be the first team to take a player at the position if they used their first pick on one. Ole Miss' Laquon Treadwell, TCU's Josh Doctson, Baylor's Corey Coleman and Notre Dame's Will Fuller are among the highest projected wide receivers in this year's draft class.

Eight of the Browns' 12 picks fall in the third-fifth rounds. Among the numerous receivers projected to land in that range are Ohio State's Braxton Miller, Leonte Carroo (Rutgers), Charone Peake (Clemson) and Aaron Burbridge (Michigan State).

"I'm not a big believer in, 'this is a weak draft or a strong draft,'" said Brown, speaking about the draft as a whole. "I think that plays out two or three years down the road. I know there's always talk about that, but we feel very good about players we're able to get every year, frankly, in all the rounds. Here, we like having more picks, certainly. I feel like we'll be able to get some very good players, even outside the first and second round."

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