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2020 NFL Draft

Hue Jackson expects cream will 'rise to the top' at WR

Earlier this offseason, Hue Jackson made it clear the Browns needed to get bigger and faster at wide receiver, calling the room an area "we need to address" while speaking to reporters at the NFL's annual owners' meetings in March.

So when asked last week about a potential competition among members of that position group, Cleveland's first-year coach didn't mince words.

"It's fun to get a chance to kind of watch the cream rise to the top," Jackson said, "and that's what pro football is all about at the end of the day."

Indeed, as the Browns continue their offseason workouts, they do so with 14 new members -- including four more wide receivers taken in this year's draft class, scooping up Baylor's Corey Coleman, Auburn's Ricardo Louis, UCLA's Jordan Payton, and Colorado State's Rashard Higgins as part of an effort to shore up a position group in need of depth.

"They're fast. They're fast, big, athletic guys ... (Coleman is) a tremendous football player, he can catch and run with anybody. And the other three guys we have are somewhat in that same class," Jackson said.

And for Jackson -- whose powerful offenses were well-known as the offensive coordinator for the Bengals -- that's the name of the game as the Browns look to improve a unit that averaged 17.4 points a game (a figure that ranked 30th among 32 teams).

"What I think is important is that you have to score the ball. You have to score touchdowns and you have to put yourself in a position to score touchdowns," Jackson said earlier this month when asked about drafting a bevy of pass-catchers.

"Schematically, we will be as good as we can be, but at the same time, you need to have players that give you the flexibility to do that from a lot of different areas from a lot of different places, whether it is from air or from land."

In addition to the four newcomers, Cleveland's roster includes veterans Brian Hartline, Terrelle Pryor, Andrew Hawkins, Taylor Gabriel, Darius Jennings, Rannell Hall, and Marlon Moore, all of whom have been part of an overall effort that's impressed Jackson and Co. so far.

But with 11 players vying for a handful of spots, Jackson said "there's no question the best in room are going to stay here" and addressed any "anxiety" in regards to concern about their roles with the team.

"There are some really good players here and they will compete," he said. "And that's the great thing about pro football — you never know how this is gonna unfold until you give people an opportunity. There are some people here who truly deserve an opportunity. And there are some guys that we drafted that are going to get an opportunity."

Coleman, Louis, Payton and Higgins will have to show they're NFL worthy when rookie minicamp starts later this week.

"They all have different strengths, they're bigger guys, they can catch, they can run, they're smart., they're eager, they want to be a part of our organization they want to be a part of, people use the word, turnaround," Jackson said. "And I think all that is very important but at the same time they can catch and they can make plays."

Meanwhile, vets like Hartline and Hawkins have proven track records of production. And younger players like Pryor — the 6-foot-6 former Ohio State star quarterback-turned-receiver — have impressed the coaching staff thus far in the spring.

"I think we have accomplished that from this draft to go along with the guys we already have here," Jackson said. "It's going to give us a chance to put out the best of the best that we have."​

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