Last year at NFL Draft time, a number of fans, experts and NFL executives were expecting the Cleveland Browns to attack the wide receiver position early in the draft to put another major playmaker opposite of rising star Josh Gordon.
Little did anyone know (except for the Browns themselves) that Gordon was facing a major suspension for failing a drug test (yet again). The mentality went from taking another playmaker to go opposite Gordon, to a glaring need at what was prior to the 2014 NFL Draft, a depleted receiving core outside of tight end Jordan Cameron.
However, Browns General Manager Ray Farmer stuck to his guns and went with the status quo, going through the entire draft without taking another receiving threat; despite having the knowledge of Gordon’s almost certain suspension.
Unfortunately for the Browns, the 2014 NFL Draft ended up being one of the best ever for wide receiver prospects–and the team passed on every one of them. With this in mind, Farmer needs to break the mold in what seems to be another receiving class bound to make an immediate impact to teams, especially toward the top of the board. With the Nos. 12 and 19 picks in the 2015 NFL Draft, the Browns are in a prime position to either move up and get their guy, or simply sit with those picks and address two of their top needs.
After passing on all those playmakers last year, Farmer needs to take a receiver in this draft, and the top of this class should be able to provide the Browns with multiple options throughout the first round. Gordon’s size is one of the major aspects that will need to be replaced. As with Andrew Hawkins solidified as the go-to slot man, there must be a No. 1 target (and potentially No. 2) to fill the void.
If you are a team looking for big-time wide receiver talent, this draft has some big targets with the ability to go up and get jump balls down field and in the red zone. West Virginia’s Kevin White, Louisville’s DeVante Parker, Oklahoma’s Dorial Green-Beckham, and Arizona State’s Jaelen Strong are the receivers at the top of the class with the most size and ability to come in and make an immediate impact.
That list is based purely on size and rankings though, as Amari Cooper is the top wide receiver in this draft, but he is a little shorter than those guys listed above. Cooper will make an impact on whatever team he ends up on, but chances are he will not even be around when the Browns pick at 12 barring a trade up to go get him.
The most intriguing name to this writer out of that group is the 6’5″ Green-Beckham, who has quite a back-story and list of red flags like Gordon did coming out. The Browns can’t let Gordon’s troubles impact them by not taking a super talent due to his past, though.
Green-Beckham’s past is troubling and raises flags, but he is the type of receiver that has the size and potential of a Calvin Johnson type. His red flags might allow him to slip enough in the draft where the Browns might be able to get him in a bargain position, and if the opportunity arises they should take it. Green-Beckham has the most risk out of any of these receivers but also probably the highest ceiling too.
Farmer would significantly upgrade the Browns roster with any of these top rated receivers in the first round of the draft. So unlike last year, Ray needs to make sure he turns in a draft card that reads “Wide Receiver” early on in the 2015 NFL Draft.