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Draft series Part 2: Receivers are more urgent than ever because of free agent inactivity.

Apr 03, 2012 -- 2:30pm

By Tony Grossi


Second in a series analyzing the Browns’ draft needs.

Position:Wide receiver.

Roster: Greg Little, Josh Cribbs, Mohamed Massaquoi, Jordan Norwood, Carlton Mitchell, Rod Windsor.

Their big plays are few and far between. They don’t separate. They don’t have good boundary awareness and don’t use their size to their advantage. They led the league in drops. Little had 61 catches as a rookie, but only two touchdowns and no signature catch. Norwood has some quickness, but his slight build leaves him susceptible to injury as a slot receiver. Massaquoi has not been the same since James Harrison blasted him in a 2010 game. Cribbs has come a long way as a receiver.

Needs: A franchise receiver to change the complexion of a game with one catch. And a dependable No. 2 to move the chains and occasionally visit the end zone.

Top 5 prospects:

1. Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State.

Just doesn’t have the size or speed of the NFL elite receivers. He can be a strong No. 2, but a team counting on him to be its No. 1 will be disappointed.

2. Michael Floyd, Notre Dame.

Erase a couple of alcohol-related incidents and he might be the top-ranked receiver because of his size and athletic ability. He knows how to use both.

3. Kendall Wright, Baylor.

Looked heavy and slow at combine, but came through with a 4.46 clocking at his pro day to restore his status as a first-rounder. A natural play-maker.

4. Rueben Randle, LSU.

Still only 20 and three years removed from high school. His production suffered from poor quarterback play, but he flashed some big-time potential. Has high upside.

5. Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech.

Vaulted into the top five with a 4.36 40 – second-fastest clocking at the combine. Had only 49 career catches because of a non-conventional offense, but averaged over 25 yards a catch. Can his straight-line speed convert to NFL route-running?

Under radar: Brian Quick, Appalachian State.

What’s not to like about a 6-5, 220-pound wideout with the surname Quick?

Last word: Failing to address this position in free agency has made it more urgent to come out of the draft with a game-changing wideout plus another receiver who can separate from pro cornerbacks and catch the ball.  

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 44 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@espncleveland.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

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