Skip to main content


Taylor Gabriel ranks as the second best deep threat in the NFL


It had only been about a month since wide receiver Taylor Gabriel earned a roster spot as an undrafted rookie. The 5-foot-8 speedster from Abilene Christian paced around, nervously.

After getting signed when he had a successful tryout during rookie minicamp, a hamstring injury during OTAs had Gabriel participating as a spectator in shorts and a t-shirt, watching practice from afar. The Cleveland Browns had added other receivers to the roster; ones with bigger names and egos. Andrew Hawkins, Nate Burleson, Miles Austin, Earl Bennett and Anthony Armstrong joined incumbent Travis Benjamin and the intriguing athletic prospect, Charles Johnson.

That's not to mention the other undrafted free agents the Browns had originally signed to contracts: Willie Snead, Chandler Jones and Jonathan Krause.

Gabriel was desperate. He didn't want to injure himself further, but he also saw his chance of playing in the NFL deteriorating by the day. So he threw up a Hail Mary: Gabriel approached general manager Ray Farmer.

"I just told him not to cut me, man," Gabriel recalled about his meeting with Farmer. "Just to give me a chance to show my ability. Just give me an opportunity. That's what he gave me."

When training camp rolled around in late July, healthy and proven receivers like Bennett and Armstrong were released when Gabriel was regaining strength in his hamstring. By preseason's end, the Browns really didn't have a choice. Gabriel led the Browns with 10 catches, 128 yards and electrifying 68-yard kickoff return. He had earned a roster spot as the Browns' fifth receiver.

Pleading with Farmer for a chance to make the team was a gutsy move by Gabriel. It was even bolder of Farmer, coach Mike Pettine and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to craft an extensive role for the undersized wide receiver.

Heading into the Monday Night Football game, Gabriel still ranks second in the NFL in yards per reception at 19.2. Only Redskins superstar DeSean Jackson (21.8) is ahead of the Browns receiver. Gabriel's penchant for the big play has been existent nearly every game.





Week 3 vs. Ravens




Week 5 vs. Titans




Week 6 vs. Steelers




Week 8 vs. Raiders




Week 9 vs. Buccaneers




When Gabriel first got to Cleveland, quarterback Brian Hoyer had a tough time deciphering who the receiver was. Now, he's become one of the best deep targets in the league.

"The one thing that jumps out about him is this isn't too big for him," said Hoyer. "Coming from where he came from – not drafted, a try-out guy – sometimes guys like that can get overwhelmed. I think it just goes to show his work ethic, how (much work) he's put into making the team, standing out amongst the other rookie receivers, he's done a great job."

On Sunday against the Buccaneers, Gabriel's importance to the Browns was put under a magnifying glass. On an ad-lib play scrambling play from Hoyer, Gabriel had the wherewithal to break off a fly route towards the end zone. The 34-yard touchdown elevated the Browns to 5-3 and proved Gabriel had every right to ask Farmer for a right to play on the Cleveland Browns.

"Never," responded Gabriel to a question about if he expected to play such a vital role in the Browns' best start since 2007. "Never would I expect that to happen. I love this place. I love Cleveland."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content