Browns receiving corps ranked fourth in their division by Jamison Hensley

Jamison Hensley of ESPN is ranking all the position groups in the AFC North and he has decided where they all fall when it comes to receivers. The Cleveland Browns, despite a recent trade for Devone Bess and despite the exit of Anquan Boldin from Baltimore, are last in Hensley’s mind. The Steelers take the top spot and the Bengals with the league’s very best receiver, A.J. Green, finish second.

The Browns feel more comfortable with their receivers after watching what Josh Gordon and Greg Little did last season. But you don’t know if Cleveland’s top two receivers are going to reach their potential this season because they have a combined three seasons of NFL experience. Gordon flashed big-play ability and Little showed signs of developing into a complementary No. 2 target. The Browns have more established depth than the Ravens after trading for Davone Bess and signing David Nelson. Bess will prove valuable on third down. Travis Benjamin provides speed on the outside. This group will be even better next season.

There’s no doubting that the Browns receivers have a lot to prove, but it still seems a little bit odd that the Ravens could be ranked ahead of them without Anquan Boldin. Torrey Smith is a dynamic, young receiver who I definitely think is on an upward career arc, but he’s only entering his third season in the NFL. He’s caught nearly 50 balls in two straight years. He’s covered 841 yards and 855 yards while catching seven and eight TDs. All that being said, he accomplished that playing with Joe Flacco and alongside Anquan Boldin.

We’ll obviously see how it all plays out on the field this year, but Gordon didn’t start the entire season for the Browns and had 50 catches for 805 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie with no established veteran anywhere to be found on the Browns roster. Greg Little added 53 catches for 647 yards and four TDs as he seemed to get over his butter fingers in the second half of the season. The Browns also add Davone Bess who caught 61 balls a year ago for 778 yards from rookie QB Ryan Tannehill.

[Related: Browns thoughts on Armonty Bryant, Jimmy Haslam’s apology and Garrett Gilkey]

  • JK

    1 Cin
    2 Cle
    3 Pit
    4 Bal

  • I would go CIN, PIT, CLE, BAL personally.

  • crobarred

    Hensley is from Baltimore, a Ravens fan and covered the team. Why he was given the AFC North to write about in an unbiased manner is beyond me because he is incapable of doing it. I would rank the teams:

    1. Cin
    2. Pit
    3. Cle
    4. Bal

  • crobarred

    I ranked them the same mainly because of stone hands Little. If the receivers can hang onto the ball i’d move Cleveland up to second.

  • JK

    So we’re not gonna acknowledge his last half of the 2012 season?

    All of our WRs are young, and our QB is young (in terms of experience). Last year was the first year they played together for a full season, I expect them to continue to improve and adding competent slot/#3 options will only help.

  • crobarred

    I was looking at the stats going into this year. You have to take the drops into consideration. Little had a much better second half but he still drops the ball way too much for a WR. In all honesty I’m actually happy with the current crop of WR’s. I think they can develop into a great unit but as of right now they aren’t there yet.

  • Hey, it could have been worse. In addition, he could have ranked the QBs. Or FBs. Or TEs. Or FSs. Or OGs. Or K. Or P.

  • Garry_Owen

    I really, really wanted to get worked up over some random dude’s “rankings” of arbitrary AFC North categories of stuff, but then I realized that whenever random dudes set out to “rank” random stuff in the AFC North, the thought process always goes something like this: “Let’s see, of Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati, who’s 1 through 3?” And that’s pretty much the extent of the deep thinking.

    Rank on, ye rankers!

  • AScoutingLife

    One thing to keep in mind: Hensley is a complete effing moron.

  • Natedawg86

    Little played better last year after guys like Norwood and Cooper came into the picture. I think he will be much better this year. But I guess you can’t coach a player if he can’t catch…ahem Edwards ahem

  • mgbode

    Why are people so high on Pitt’s WRs? I thought they got great value in Markus Wheaton, but he’s a rookie and it’s hard to know how a middle-round WR will do. Their others are Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, and old guys: Plax & Cotchery. Where is the upside?

    Cinci has AJ, so they have the best almost purely from him. Sanu and Marvin Jones proved to have some upside as well and Hawkins is a decent piece. And, best of all for them, is that these are young guys.

    Baltimore has 2 good WRs in Torrey and Jacoby but they are both best functioned as deep guys (heck, even previously touted Streeter is a deep guy too). As a corps, they really don’t have an underneath guy now. And, they have no proven guys outside their top2. I don’t see how they aren’t considered the worst off for now.

    For the Browns, it’s just questions. Will Little continue to hang onto the ball? Will Gordon progress? Will Nelson be healthy? Can Norv/Chud better utilize Benjamin? Bess is really the one guy you just know what he will bring (true middle field slot guy who will catch the ball). Lots of potential and, if Little/Gordon progress, then a very, very high ceiling.

    My rankings:

    1. Cinci
    2. Cleveland
    3. Pitt
    4. Baltimore

  • BenRM

    Off the top of my head, I can’t name BAL’s WR#2 (Jacoby Jones? lol) or their TE#1. Me thinks Sir Hensley is giving zee champs too much credit.

  • JHop

    You could argue that Dennis Pitta + Ed Dickson (Baltimore’s TEs) are the best TE tandem in the division right now, and could only be challenged by Jermaine Gresham and the newly added Tyler Eiffert in Cincinnati.

  • mgbode

    Greg Little
    2011 120targets 61rec – 50.8%
    2012 92targets 53rec – 57.6%

    —-2012 after NYG game (wk6-17)—
    65targets 42rec – 64.6%

    If he can even split the difference on the overall vs. last 3/4 of 2012, then he’ll be at very respectable 60% pass catch ratio.

  • Browns receiving corps ranked #1 in AFC North by Kanick.
    /equilibrium restored.

    (is there a link to the original article available?)
    (never mind, found it.)

  • this is the logical rating. but my eyes at the end of last year were telling me gordon/little can be a top5 (if not TOP) tandem in the league.

    i cant kill hensley too much because he relies on MKC and MKC’s analysis said this about WRs:
    What they need: The Browns need two more starting-caliber wideouts and should be able to add at least one in free agency.


  • co811809

    yea or RB, OT, OLB, DE, CB, and DT… get outta here you downer

  • mgbode

    they definitely have a high ceiling, just hard to justify actually ranking them ahead of AJ Green at this point.

  • to be clear: no one is ahead of green.
    BUT.. i can see little ahead of sanu and gordon is closer to green than most realize.

  • mgbode

    yes, I didn’t think you meant otherwise wrt Green. and, I hope you are right with Gordon (no reason that “today” Little shouldn’t be ranked ahead of Sanu IMO).

  • BIKI024

    I would put Torrey and Jacoby at 1 and 2 on our depth chart, but after them there are a lot of question marks, but who knows, maybe one of these young bucks will step up.

    as far as the Clownies, let’s just hope Gordon stays focused and Little remembers how to catch the ball. Bess was a real solid pickup and if Nelson can regain his ’11 form we should definitely create some mismatches in the secondary.

  • NoVA Buckeye

    No Boldin for Flacco to throw miraculous jump balls to every game to bail him out… let’s see if he earns his paycheck this year…

  • You really think Green is better than Calvin Johnson?

  • Vindictive_Pat

    I loved the former guy, James Walker, and that was probably because he was from Cleveland (at some point in his life) and was a Cleveland homer. Granted, all that means wrt ESPN is that Walker gave Cleveland a fair shake.

  • NotFromShaker

    Perez Ashford alone makes us the best in the division tbqh.