By Tony Grossi
The Morning Kickoff …
A second chance: The Browns will have two scouts in attendance for the pro day workout today of former Baylor wideout Josh Gordon, the only prominent name among eight in the NFL summer supplemental draft on Thursday.
No other members of the organization will attend the workout at the Houston Texans’ practice facility. But a source said the Browns have done a lot of legwork already on Gordon, who has elite athletic skills but was kicked off the Baylor team two years ago for testing positive for marijuana.
Gordon hasn’t played since establishing himself as a sophomore in 2010 with 42 catches for 714 yards and seven touchdowns – No. 2 numbers behind eventual first-round draft pick Kendall Wright. Gordon was arrested for misdemeanor drug possession for being a passenger in a car with marijuana in it. He proceeded to fail a couple of drug tests and was dismissed by Baylor.
Gordon transferred to Utah, sat out the 2011 season, and then petitioned the NFL to come out in the supplemental draft without playing a down. His dimensions – 6-3 and 220 pounds – and reputed 4.4 speed are intoxicating to NFL teams. He is bigger and faster than Wright, who was taken No. 20 overall by Tennessee in April.
The Browns knew of Gordon while scouting Wright, whom they were preparing to take at No. 22. Gordon wouldn’t be a bad rebound – and would cost less. The Browns are definitely interested, said a league source.
“He has three things against him,” said Dane Brugler, CBSSports.com draft analyst. “1. Usually guys aren’t taken as highly in the supplemental draft because teams are less than excited to give away futures; 2. He hasn’t played since 2010, his only year; 3. He has character and maturity questions.
“I think a lot of teams are curious. I’ve heard a few teams, the Cowboys being one, and a few others that are maybe a little more interested. I don’t think he gets out of the third round, from the amount of intrigue I’ve heard.”
A second chance for the Browns, too: The order of the supplemental draft is decided through a weighted lottery. The order is not disclosed to the teams until about an hour before the draft.
If a team decides to select Gordon, it notifies the league in which round it chooses to take him. The league then goes through the order and awards Gordon to the team with the highest spot in the round. The team awarded him gives up the corresponding pick in next April’s regular draft.
Heckert values future draft picks as much as any GM, but he is not opposed to using it on a player with Gordon’s potential, said the source.
“You look at our last draft … if there is something we weren’t able to get done, this is a second chance,” he said. “You’re getting a player early, but in this case it’s a little late, too, to help much this year.”
Heckert has shown he will take a chance on a risky player with athletic skills. He drafted receiver Greg Little in the second round in 2011 after Little missed the entire 2010 season at North Carolina because of a suspension. Little proceeded to lead the Browns in receiving as a rookie.
Gordon’s potential may be greater than Little’s. “He’s so physically gifted, the sky’s the limit,” Brugler said. “There are questions about route-running, the nuances of the position. But the NFL loves big, fast receivers.”
Doing their due diligence: Part of Gordon’s pro day will involve answering questions from teams about his bad decisions. According to a source, Heckert has talked with Gordon “for a long time” and has talked to others about him. At this point, Heckert does not believe Gordon’s issues are a deal-breaker.
The feeling is that because of Gordon’s year off, his shortness of experience and his absence from an NFL camp this spring, he won’t be a major contributor early to any team in 2012. But his huge potential at a position the Browns direly need to fill makes him an appealing investment.
When the Browns built their playoff teams in the mid-1980s, they left no stone unturned to fill needs. They’d trade for players, sign them from the Canadian Football League and the United States Football League. They jumpstarted a new era of playoff appearances by trading for the first pick in the 1985 supplemental draft to secure quarterback Bernie Kosar.
That controversial move changed the rules of the draft to the present weighted lottery system. Now it’s not just a matter of using a future pick on a player. If the Browns really want Gordon, they’re going to have to blindly select him higher than any other team. There’s no guarantee they can get him in the third round.
|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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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