Note: This is a continuation of Part I of the preview we ran yesterday.
For all intents and purposes, everyone listed below is a legitimate candidate to make the Browns' roster as the fourth/fifth receiver (the label depends on if you include Cribbs as a "WR"). The others are candidates to make the practice squad. It seems a little unusual how few receivers we have in camp this year compared to the past few years. Right now, there are only 8 receivers, and it seems to be that 10 or 11 would be the norm.
5. CARLTON MITCHELL - 6TH ROUND ROOKIE WIDE RECEIVER
Carlton Mitchell (#18)
College: South Florida
Note: Impressive size, but will he be polished enough this year?
Mitchell has good size for a wide receiver at 6-3, 218 lbs, but he wasn't a highly touted receiver in the draft, falling to Cleveland in the sixth round.
In previewing Mitchell, it's probably best to reference this article written by the Morning Journal's Jeff Schudel back in mid-June. From his mini-camp sessions, Schudel points out the biggest problem with Mitchell:
The knock on Mitchell before the draft — 6-foot-3, 215-pound receivers don’t last until the sixth round unless something is wrong — was he traps the ball against his body too often. He is doing the same thing here while the players practice without pads. Once the hitting starts in training camp those catches he is making now could be jarred loose.
On the positive side, Schudel notes that Mitchell has looked smooth running go-routes, where he catches the ball with his hands in stride. He's going to need to do more than that though if he wants to make the Browns' roster. Otherwise, he'll be shipped to the practice squad for further development.
Final Roster Odds: 40%
Practice Squad Odds: 60%
6. SYNDRIC STEPTOE - COMPETING FOR NO. 4 RECEIVER
Syndric Steptoe (#12)
Experience: 3 years*
Note: *has only actually played during the 2008 NFL season
So, you thought Syndric Steptoe was gone? So did most of us at the end of last season, until we kept wondering why he was still appearing on the Browns' roster in numerous places.
Last year in training camp, Steptoe was carted off the field with a shoulder injury that ended his season. The team then waived/injured him later in August, which is why I think we thought he was off the team. There is a stipulation that if the player clears waivers though, they can go on your injured reserve. As far as I can tell, that is what happened.
Out of all the players on the Browns' 80-man roster, Steptoe might be the most difficult one to discuss. On one hand, I get the sense that while we know he's there, he's an afterthought. On the other hand, if you're looking for a veteran receiver, Steptoe has the most experience at the position at the NFL level aside from Stuckey. In last year's training camp preview, I stated that Steptoe lacked any ability to create separation, make above average catches, or block when he was a starter in 2008. Maybe that could change if he was a fifth or sixth receiver, but I'm still in the crop that has already been turned off to Steptoe's lack of production -- let's take a chance on one of the rookies instead.
Player Quality: D-
Final Roster Odds: 20%
7. JOHNATHAN HAGGERTY - UNDRAFTED FREE AGENT WIDE RECEIVER
Johnathan Haggerty (#86)
College: SW Oklahoma State
Note: Can this "unknown" be a gem for Cleveland?
Signed as an undrafted agent from Southwestern Oklahoma State, Johnathan Haggerty has received praise from head coach Eric Mangini for his play in earlier minicamp sessions. Coming in as a relatively unknown player, he made enough of an impression on Mangini to start earning reps with the second-team offense. We'll see if that carries over to training camp.
"He's gotten some more looks because of the good things that he's done and I'm excited about what he's done," said Mangini. "Now it's a function of what he can keep doing."
Like Mitchell, Haggerty also has a nice 40-time at 4.44. It's too early to say he has great hands, but catching the ball wasn't much of an issue for him during the minicamp sessions, where he usually worked with Seneca Wallace. As a senior in college, he caught 54 passes for 748 yards and 6 touchdowns. I couldn't find out if he had any kick return experience, but I wonder if he'll receive any reps there on special teams in camp.
Final Roster Odds: 30%
Practice Squad Odds: 50%
8. JAKE ALLEN - TRAINING CAMP WIDE RECEIVER
Jake Allen (#85)
Experience: 2 years
College: Mississippi College
Note: He's tall.
How do you preview a guy like Jake Allen? Since he wasn't in training camp last year, I can't really comment on his abilities as a receiver. Despite not being on the roster nearly as long as Brian Robiskie, there was a game last year in which he received some playing time ahead of him. I don't know if that's a positive for Allen, a negative for Robiskie, both, or neither.
Scouting reports indicate that Allen's strength is his tall, lanky frame (6-4), where he can out-jump defenders and be a possession receiver. He isn't a very physical receiver though, and "needs to add some muscle to his frame."
In researching the Packer community for their thoughts on Allen (he used to be on their practice squad), the comments were far and few between, and those that were there only cited the thing I already mentioned: "he's tall." This tweet from a Packer fan/reporter back in November isn't the most enlightening for him though, if that counts for anything.
Final Roster Odds: 5%
Practice Squad Odds: 25%
Please vote in the poll below if you haven't already, as I have a feeling that this one will be fairly competitive. Other teams can find gems at the receiver position from the later rounds; it's about time that the Browns share that same fortune.
Next up, we'll take a look at the tight end and the fullback positions to cap off our "See Ball, Catch Ball...and Block" week.