In their winless 2017 campaign, the Browns struggled to find playmakers in the pass game.
That stands to change next season thanks in part to a new-look wide receivers group that, at least on paper, should feature plenty of competition in the coming weeks and months.
The Browns currently have 12 receivers on their roster, including three-time Pro Bowler Jarvis Landry (acquired via a trade with the Dolphins in March), Josh Gordon (who returned late last season from a three-year suspension) and 2016 first-round pick Corey Coleman, who has had highs and lows throughout his first two seasons.
“I think it’s going to be a really good mix,” head coach Hue Jackson said in March following the trade for Landry. “There are so many other weapons now when you add these kind of players to your arsenal, especially guys who are proven who have made big-time plays in the National Football League."
Landry is expected to give the Browns a proven playmaker and winner; Gordon, the league's leading receiver in 2013, flashed that talent in five games back last season; Coleman, the former Baylor star, has had bright spots but has broken his hand twice in as many years. Fellow 2016 draft picks Ricardo Louis and Rashard Higgins will also look to take steps forward in their third NFL season.
Still, that didn't stop general manager John Dorsey and the front office from adding more talent to the room. In all, the Browns have tabbed eight new faces at the position, and it was for good reason.
Cleveland’s receivers were inconsistent last season, combining for 134 catches, 1,775 yards and seven touchdowns. For context, Landry — who spent the past four seasons with the Dolphins — led the league with 112 receptions a year ago and posted 987 yards and nine touchdowns.
In addition to Landry — who headlined a series of trades made by the Browns two months ago that included quarterback Tyrod Taylor and free safety Damarious Randall — Cleveland also signed former Packers receiver Jeff Janis and drafted Florida’s Antonio Callaway in the fourth round and Texas A&M’s Damion Ratley in the sixth. Callaway, who fell in the draft because of off-field concerns, was considered a first-round talent by some draft analysts.
“They’re good football players. Obviously, Callaway’s statistics for the one year or year and a half were outstanding,” Jackson said. “Ratley, obviously he doesn’t have a lot of numbers, but he’s a very talented player and has played and made plays. We’re really excited about getting these two young men on our team.”
When the team kicks off OTAs next week, it’ll be the first time we saw the Browns wide receivers together and what could be the beginning of a promising future for the group.
“What these guys will become? It’ll become as hard as they work,” Jackson said. “Whatever I think these guys want to be I think they can be, but they have a lot of work to do.”