Over at Pro Football Focus, they are taking a look at the top position battles for each team in the AFC North. They decided that wide receiver was the top position battle for the Cleveland Browns, and since we just finished previewing this position here at Dawgs By Nature [part 1 | part 2], this is a good time to take a look at PFF's perspective.
PFF notes that Little was their second-worst graded wide receiver in 2011 (presumably due to his drops), but they understand that he is a lock to start in 2012. This is how they see the position panning out after Little:
Beyond Little is where the battle really begins. Massaquoi, who started last season, dropped four passes in 2011 and in his two seasons in the league, has yet to show that he can be a long term starter at the position.
Cribbs was the Browns most productive player at the position last season, dropping less passes than Little and out-performing Massaquoi. However, an increase in snaps and targets in 2012 doesn’t seem likely given the new additions on the roster and the coaching staff wants him to focus on making more of an impact on special teams.
The Browns were impressed by the size-speed combination of Mitchell but despite this and reports of an impressive showing at offseason workouts, having made just four receptions in his first two seasons makes Mitchell a long shot to even make the roster.
Norwood is another on the roster bubble however; his decent play from the slot at the end of last season should see him safe.
It's nice to see an analysis that actually considers some of the same scenarios we did at DBN, rather than just glossing over it and saying "the depth is terrible." What's interesting is that they have a different take on rookie receiver Travis Benjamin than I do:
The Verdict: Opposite Little it really is up in the air and it won’t be a shock to see more than one guy take the field as the No. 2 receiver. By the end of the season it will likely be Gordon but don’t be surprised to see Benjamin starting in Week 1 ahead of him and Massaquoi. If the end of last season is anything to go by, Norwood still figures to be a factor from the slot.
I'm more inclined to think Benjamin either won't play much at all this year, or will play only to stretch the field (but not as a starter). They also seem to think Norwood's roster spot is safe. Although that would make me pleased, I'm not as confident as they seem that he'll make the team.