Wide receiver position a hot topic


Wide receiver.

Those two words dominated the online discussion last weekend from Browns fan. Why was the position disregarded during the NFL draft?

General manager Ray Farmer made his stance clear on the receiving position. The Browns stuck true to their draft board. Farmer gave a little anecdote that also tapped into the Browns' strategy.

"I'd like to ask everybody here one question, as well," Farmer told the media late Saturday night following the conclusion of the draft. "How many of the receivers that were with the Seattle Seahawks during their entire season last year and through the beginning of the playoffs were drafted players?"

The answer to Farmer's Seahawks question is just one player.

Golden Tate was a second round pick in 2010 and he's no longer with Seattle. Percy Harvin was traded for. Sidney Rice was signed as a free agent. Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse were undrafted free agents who bloomed into contributors.

Farmer's point is simple: dominant wide receivers aren't a necessity for winning playoff games. It's fair to say that fantasy football has influenced public perception of the importance of the position.

If the Browns are copying the Seahawks' model, they are doing a pretty good job of it.

Justin Gilbert is a taller physical cornerback, with a similar skill set to that of Richard Sherman. Johnny Manziel is a mobile playmaker who can improvise and keep the chains moving, a la Russell Wilson. Ben Tate and rookie Terrance West are physical runners who can absorb contact and keep the clock ticking, like Marshawn Lynch.

Seattle didn't exactly boast a world-power offense. The Browns clearly aren't the Seahawks yet, but the latter's efficiency tells a strong story on winning football games.

Training camp is still two-and-a-half months away. Cleveland still has some final touches of make up to adjust the look of their squad.

"There's plenty of opportunity to add players, to change the roster and really make a difference," Farmer said.

Farmer is right. If the Browns do decide to tinker with the position, here's a look at a few receivers who might be able to make a difference.

Miles Austin

There are two things to love about Austin: he's still only 29 and he's only played for the Dallas Cowboys. How many times in sports do we see someone who we think is on the decline, only to see a new city and jersey do wonders for the player? Austin became a victim of not getting the football enough in the Dez Bryant-Jason Witten-centered offense. His stats suffered. His mindset wandered. He isn't the Pro Bowler he was in 2009, but his career isn't over, either.

Danario Alexander

If it weren't for a torn ACL in 2013, Alexander likely would still be a major factor the Chargers. He was just that 2012 in San Diego, scoring seven touchdowns and hauling in 658 yards in just 10 games played. Alexander is still rehabbing the knee injury, but his 6-foot-5 size can't be ignored.

Willie SneadWho? Snead signed with the Browns as an undrafted free agent on Monday and has quite the set of credentials. Snead starred at Ball State, which was periodically ranked during his time there. He was a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award, handed out to the country's top wide receiver. Snead was third in the nation in receiving yards with 1,516, 15 touchdowns and 106 catches. A subpar performance at the NFL Scouting Combine pushed the projected late-round pick out of the draft, and now he has a chance to be a sleeper.

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