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Browns position analysis: Young WRs led by unexpected source

Over the next week, ClevelandBrowns.com will analyze each position group on the roster with a quick look back at 2016 and an eye toward 2017 and beyond.

The Raw Data

WRs

Terrelle Pryor Sr. - 77 receptions, 1,007 yards, 4 TDs

Corey Coleman - 33 rec., 413 yards, 3 TDs

Andrew Hawkins - 33 rec., 324 yards, 3 TDs

Ricardo Louis - 18 rec., 205 yards

Rashard Higgins - 6 rec., 77 yards

Jordan Payton - 1 rec., 3 yards

TEs

Gary Barnidge - 55 rec., 612 yards, 2 TDs

Seth DeValve - 10 rec., 127 yards, 2 TDs

Randall Telfer - 2 rec., 4 yards

*Connor Hamlett - 1 rec., 17 yards, TD

  • No longer with the team

Others on the roster

Mario Alford

Josh Boyce

Rannell Hall

Jordan Leslie

Dennis Parks

The Rankings

WR TDs - 10 - Up from 8 in 2015

WR yards - 2,029 - Down from 2,299 in 2015, accounting for 55 percent of all receiving yards

Contract talk

The following players are restricted or unrestricted free agents heading into 2017:

Pryor (unrestricted)

Quote to note

"I wouldn't say it has hampered their development and progress because they have to do what they have to do, regardless of what the circumstances are form the quarterback position. The passing game itself is timing and rhythm. Anytime you change pieces to a puzzle, it creates a little bit of anxiety in terms of the consistency of the timing, rhythm and anticipation that you have that goes together with the quarterbacks and receivers. I don't think it has hampered their development in any way. They still have to be able to get out of breaks. They still have to be able to beat man-to-man coverage. They still have to be able to catch the football and run with the ball after the catch. All of those things are worked on regardless of how the ball is coming to them." -- Senior offensive assistant/wide receivers coach Al Saunders

High point

From a win-loss perspective, there was no day better than Week 16 against the Chargers, of course, but the most balanced game for Cleveland's wide receivers and tight ends came Week 6 against the Titans. Pryor led the way with nine catches, 75 yards and two touchdowns while Louis and Hawkins each posted some of their best totals of the season. Barnidge made a long catch on the opening drive and finished with 59 yards and Higgins recorded the first catch of his NFL career, a 14-yarder.

Low point

Week 10 at Baltimore was a rough game for Cleveland's passing attack, as Cody Kessler couldn't push the ball downfield much and Josh McCown found minimal success in the second half. Pryor led the way with 48 yards on five catches while the rest of the group combined for 50 yards and five catches. Cleveland's running backs combined for 55 yards on a frustrating night against the Ravens.

Surprise, Surprise

Could this possibly apply to anyone but Pryor? Though the signs were there in OTAs and training camp, there were few, if any, who predicted the former quarterback would have a season like he did. What made his season even more impressive was the way he evolved his game as the year unfolded. A deep threat in the preseason and early parts of the regular season, Pryor adjusted and picked up a bulk of his yards on short and intermediate throws while Kessler was the quarterback. He continued to produce even while teams moved their best cornerback to guard him and even while Coleman was sidelined for six games. Simply put, it was a fantastic season for a player who is just a little more than a year into actually playing the position.

Outlook for 2017

Pryor's upcoming free agency has been well-documented, and the top members of Cleveland's front office have gone on record to express the importance in retaining the team's talented players. Behind Pryor, the Browns are hoping to see more from a young crop of receivers that was hamstrung by injuries (Coleman) and a shortage of opportunities. Coleman's peak performance came Week 2 against the Ravens, just a few days before he broke his hand in practice. Louis filled in admirably and truly embraced his large role on special teams. At tight end, Barnidge was steady and DeValve showed promise during the second half of the year. Both figure to be key elements of Cleveland's passing game in 2017, catching the ball from whomever is under center.

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