Browns

Final 2017 Cleveland Browns Report Card: Wide Receivers

Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Get your red pens out! After I took on the quarterback position and WFNY’s Jake Burns looked at the running back unit, I will continue the grading by examining the performance of the Browns wide receivers in the 2017 season.

The Browns wide receivers have been a position of great interest for fans, especially over the last few seasons. The Browns have had a tough time finding answers at the position. This offseason the Browns lost Terrelle Pryor but replaced him with Kenny Britt. Let’s just say that trade-off did not work. Let’s examine this position further.

Overall Grade: C-

Josh Gordon: A

18 receptions for 335 yards, one touchdown and 18.6 yards per reception in five games

Corey Coleman: C+

23 receptions for 305 yards, two touchdowns and 13.3 yards per reception in nine games

Sammie Coates: D

Six receptions for 70 yards and 11.7 yards per reception in 12 games

Rashard Higgins: C

27 receptions for 312 yards, two touchdowns and 11.6 yards per reception in 15 games 

Ricardo Louis: C 

27 receptions for 357 yards and 13.2 yards per reception in 16 games 

Kasen Williams: D+ 

Nine receptions for 84 yards and 9.3 yards per reception in seven games

Kenny Britt: F

18 receptions for 233 yards, two touchdowns, 12.9 yards per reception in nine games

Bryce Treggs: D+

Five receptions for 79 yards and 15.8 yards per reception in six games

Jordan Leslie: INC

One reception for 26 yards and 26 yards per reception in two games

Top Grade: Josh Gordon

The top grade at the position goes to Josh Gordon, who played in just five game, which illustrates how well the position performed this past season that a player who played in just five games had the highest grade. Nevertheless, Gordon returned from his suspension and showed that he is still a freak with the ability to be the best receiver in the league. In five games, he had 18 receptions for 335 yards, one touchdown. His 18.6 yards per reception led the team.

Expectations were not high after Gordon did not play in a regular season game since 2014. But, he shattered expectations in his first game, showing he still had the talent that amazed Browns fans and the league early in his career. He still is a physical freak with the ability to win one-on-one matchups with just his athleticism. Gordon immediately became the top receiver on the team when he returned and performed that way, earning him my top grade. Gordon could have been even more productive, but poor quarterbacking by DeShone Kizer negated some of that production. He was a bright spot in a position that underperformed overall. 

Biggest Strength: Upside

The biggest strength of the wide receiver unit is the overall upside of the players. The Browns oldest receiver on the current roster is 26 years old, but that 26-year old is Josh Gordon, who probably has the biggest upside on the team. Gordon has the most talent of all the receivers, but he is coming off a huge break where he did not touch the football field. He has to rebuild to the level he was once at, giving him a huge upside. Along with Gordon, Corey Coleman has a big upside, too. He has struggled with injuries in the first two seasons and poor quarterbacking. So, if he can stay healthy and the Browns find a quality quarterback, we could finally see the talent that earned Coleman the first-round billing. Beyond these two receivers, Rashard Higgins and Ricardo Louis have some upside due to their youth and inexperience. The position is full of developing, young receivers.

Biggest Need: Consistency

This position has been one of the most inconsistent units on the team for the few years. The Browns need consistency in their wide receiver unit. The only real consistent receiver over the past couple years has been Terrelle Pryor for one season last year. Other than him, we have not seen a steady performance for an entire season. The Browns tried to get one last season by signing Kenny Britt, but that turned into a disaster. On the Browns currently, Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman have the talent to be the consistent receivers on the roster. But, the Browns must add talent to the position to help make more options to fill this need. A veteran leader like Jarvis Landry, Terrelle Pryor or Paul Richardson could be good options to get a steady force in the unit to go along with Coleman and Gordon.

Overall Thought

The Cleveland Browns wide receiver unit was just not good in 2017. It was an inconsistent unit with a revolving door of talent coming in and out of the lineup all season. The position can be summed up in this way. Josh Gordon did not play a snap in a regular season since 2014 and came back in Week 13 of the season, but he ended up with the best performance of all the receivers on the team. Coleman struggled with another injury that derailed his early season and so he was playing catch-up all season. Kenny Britt was signed to replace Terrelle Pryor, but his season was a dumpster fire and ended up leading to his release before the end of the season. Rashard Higgins and Ricardo Louis showed some glimpses, but neither were able to be a consistent producer. The rest of the unit saw a revolving door of names who could not leave an indelible mark in a game.

This offseason the Browns need to upgrade this position. I think they need to address the unit both in free agency or trade and the 2018 NFL Draft. As I stated earlier, the Browns need more consistent performers. A veteran is desperately needed to give leadership and a steady hand in the unit. But, the Browns should also look for a receiver in the draft, who can produce right away and hopefully be an eventual starter-level talent. With one or two of their five picks in the first two rounds, a receiver should be drafted. However, the production of this position is not all on the receivers. The Browns need to get a quality quarterback. With a quality quarterback, the receivers will have an easy time and produce more based on that upgrade.

Bold Prediction

The Cleveland Browns will sign or trade for a big name receiver in free agency (either Jarvis Landry, Terrelle Pryor or Paul Richardson) and the Browns will use the first or second pick of the second round on a receiver (Look for guys like Anthony Miller, James Washington, Auden Tate or Dante Pettis).

***

2017 Browns Season Grade Series: Quarterbacks, Running Backs

  • RGB
  • RGB

    Why do we (not me…) keep pining after Pryor?
    Oh, I know…

  • tigersbrowns2

    Go Buckeyes !!

  • John Ellis

    Lets go ahead and drop Coleman’s grade to a D, just like he dropped the balls when it mattered most.

  • tigersbrowns2

    he’s definitely been the biggest disappointment of all the names above … that drop in the Pittsburgh game , really hit him hard … it’ll either make him better or he’s gonna fade.

  • tigersbrowns2

    yes , there are some nice FA’s : Richardson is a decent player , but his drop rate is a little too high for me … I’m also seeing Landry , A.Robinson , Watkins , M.Lee , Moncrief & former Browns Pryor & Gabriel.

    Landing either Landry or A.Robinson would work for me … BOTH would be even better.

  • tigersbrowns2

    … and some may not agree , but I’d be okay with Pryor coming back , as he’s already stated he’d like to do so.

  • tigersbrowns2

    … sorry , man.

  • RGB

    Don’t be a Browneye fan.
    Don’t be That guy.

  • John Ellis

    Maybe….but his TD drop against the Bengals was supposed to do the same thing

  • Upvote for funny, and I agree Pryor isn’t nearly good enough to be so pined after (though compared to the flotsam and jetsam occupying our WR corps, I suppose I get it). But seriously, this team would be in significantly better shape if it ever bothered to draft players from The Ohio State University more than once every 5-7 years.

  • CBI

    I think you’re right, especially when you compare his stat line against Britt’s:
    18 receptions for 233 yards, two touchdowns, 12.9 yards per reception in nine games
    23 receptions for 305 yards, two touchdowns, 13.3 yards per reception in nine games

    Not looking above average to me.

  • JM85

    Coleman fails because his drop led to 0-16.

  • NOPER

    Everybody forgets Pryor’s production was pretty much all from being heavily targeted. Washington spreads the ball around so he disappeared there.

  • NOPER

    Landry is my pipe dream god I love that guy but he aint coming.

  • paulbip

    You give Coleman a c+ and Britt a F and they had the same productivity.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi NOPER … let’s see … got a feeling Dorsey & Co. are going to be fairly aggressive.

  • RGB

    He wasn’t good enough to get on the field. He got two starts.
    2.

  • NOPER

    I mean the dolphins would have to be out of their minds to let him get to FA. We certainly have the money but I’m hesitant on giving up early round picks.

  • mgbode

    Nom here at WFNY is a Dolphins fan (somehow). He wants to keep him but also notes that his domestic battery issue coupled with a high price tag and the non-explosive nature of his play could have Miami looking elsewhere.

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  • Harv

    “He has struggled with injuries in the first two seasons and poor quarterbacking. So, if he can stay healthy and the Browns find a quality quarterback, we could finally see the talent that earned Coleman the first-round billing.”

    Why is the draft spot the Browns chose to take him proof that he “earned” it and what, pray tell, is his talent? He was supposed to be so explosive that he’d morph short patterns into TDs, or fly past corners. Have we ever (ever) seen him bust a short pass? Ever (ever!) seen him waving forlornly for the QB to see him open deep? Corey Coleman is our Lake Erie Loch Ness monster, appearing to those who want to see the supposed hidden enormity of talent under the surface. But the objective reality seems to be a smallish receiver who combines moderate quicks with bad routes, meh hands and iffy work ethic. Local fans shower him with the desperate hopefulness we gave JJ Hickson for 3 years: he’s so YOUNG, and if he learns the game and his hands improve he’ll be so much better than Luke Jackson. And if missing games in consecutive seasons due to injury is a valid reason to hold out hope he’s a building block, was it stupid to move on from Montario Hardesty?