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Football Outsiders: Wide Receiver Remains the Top Post-Draft Need for Browns

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This shouldn't come off as much of a surprise: in reviewing teams' top post-draft needs, Football Outsiders says that the Cleveland Browns' top post-draft need is at the wide receiver position. Football Outsiders cited the lack of a run game and the team's run defense as major issues last season, but they believed that:

  • the running game was addressed with the addition of Trent Richardson, and
  • the run defense would improve as young defensive tackles Ahtyba Rubin and Phil Taylor mature together.

Obviously, the article was written prior to news of Taylor's minicamp injury. Therefore, that left receiver as the biggest need:

From Football Outsiders:

So that leaves pass offense as the Browns' main weakness. Selecting Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden should help that category (if he beats out Colt McCoy), and means that their biggest hole is at wide receiver. Last season, Cleveland had three or more wideouts on the field 52 percent of the time, which was 12th most in the NFL, and those three receivers were almost always Greg Little, Mohamed Massaquoi and Josh Cribbs. According to our metrics, Cribbs was the most valuable of the group, but he ranked only 42nd in the NFL. As for Little and Massaquoi, they ranked 85th and 88th, respectively -- out of 90 qualifying wideouts.

To their credit, the Browns drafted Miami wide receiver Travis Benjamin in the fourth round, but his small frame is best suited for slot duty. At least that allows Cribbs to focus more on what he's best at: special teams. Nevertheless, the cupboard in-house is otherwise bare.

The best remaining options in free agency are an ancient Plaxico Burress, and three wideouts coming off knee injuries: Braylon Edwards, Mark Clayton and Mike Sims-Walker. Let's hope that, for Weeden's (or McCoy's) sake, either Little breaks out in his second season, or an unnamed receiver falls into Cleveland's lap in August.