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Cleveland Browns Training Camp 2013: WR Preview (Primary Receivers)

Jason Miller

The next part of our training camp preview series on the Cleveland Browns is titled, "See Ball, Catch Ball...and Block," which covers the wide receivers and the tight ends. Over the next couple of days, we'll be covering the wide receivers, which is a position that has received a lot of attention this offseason (some good, some bad).


8276_mediumGreg Little (#18)

6-2 | Weight: 220
Age: 24 | Experience: 3 years
College: North Carolina

Note: Has shown a lot more maturity...catches the ball at a much higher rate now...very good blocker.

You can debate who this team's No. 1 receiver is, but I'm going with Greg Little for the turning point he had mid-way last season. There are fans who still like to rag on Little's dropped passes, but anyone who watched the second half of last season would know that dropped passes are a thing of the past for him.

The combination of Little's youth, physicality, and effort at wide receiver is why I have him as my top guy. Even when Little was dropping passes, I don't think you could question his work ethic -- he was practicing hard and always fought through tackles or delivered physical blocks down the field to spring his teammates free for more yardage.

I think the decline in dropped passes is more of a maturity thing for Little. When he decided to be more serious about cutting out some of his side antics and get past the criticism from fans, he became more of a complete receiver. He's not going to be a burner in terms of speed, and I don't see him as a long-ball type of threat, but I love every other aspect of his game.

Job Security: A+
Final Roster Odds: 100%


8276_mediumJosh Gordon (#13)

6-3 | Weight: 225
Age: 22 | Experience: 2 years
College: Baylor

Note: Great deep-ball threat...questionable effort on the field...has character/drug-related issues.

Josh Gordon has the tools to be the Browns' No. 1 receiver -- a guy who can be a difference maker and a nightmare for opposing teams' secondaries. Like Little, the big thing he has to overcome in year number two is his maturity problems. Unfortunately, while Little was able to do it in his second year, I think it'll take Gordon a lot more work to get there.

Unlike Little, Gordon seems to be very lackadaisical at times on the practice field and during games. It makes you question whether he's giving it his all out there. Then, you have the issues related to his history with marijuana and drugs. He is already suspended for the first two games of the regular season, which hurts his development heading into his sophomore season.

If fans see these traits, the coaches surely do as well. Sometimes, talent is enough to overcome a players' character shortcomings. I'm not so certain that will be the case with Gordon: his job isn't in jeopardy in 2013, but there's no doubt in my mind that he still needs to show he can take his game to the next level and improve significantly in the maturity department.

Job Security: A+
Final Roster Odds: 100%


8276_mediumDavone Bess (#15)

5-10 | Weight: 190
Age: 27 | Experience: 6 years
College: Hawaii

Note: Veteran receiver from the Dolphins who will play the slot...experience as punt returner...leadership skills.

When it was first rumored that the Browns were trying to acquire Davone Bess from the Dolphins, the first things that popped into my head were, "why?" and, "we don't need him." After seeing the direction our young receivers were headed in, it didn't take me long to do a 180.

Unlike the "entitled players" at the position, Bess worked from being an undrafted free agent up to being a starting/slot receiver for the Dolphins. We're not talking "faux Joshua Cribbs production" either; Bess has averaged 64 receptions for 712 yards over the past three seasons.

While Bess doesn't have the height of a Joe Jurevicious, he fulfills the same type of possession receiver role in a Rob Chudzinski offense. More important than anything else, he can be the glue that holds this unit together in terms of bonding a guy like Gordon and trying to teach some of the other youngsters what it takes to be a successful receiver.

Another reason I was originally turned off to Bess was that it basically meant Cribbs would officially be a goner. That mentality was completely unfair to Bess, and I'm over it as we head into training camp.

Job Security: A+
Final Roster Odds: 100%


8276_mediumTravis Benjamin (#80)

5-10 | Weight: 175
Age: 23 | Experience: 2 years
College: Miami

Note: Has a lot of speed...stands out in offseason programs...will be the punt returner.

The first three receivers are pretty much locked in at one, two, and three on the depth chart. When we get to the fourth receiver, there will be some competition, but I now believe it is Travis Benjamin's job to lose.

In terms of roster odds, Benjamin has a lot of things going for him this year. He will be the team's primary punt returner, and perhaps an electric one if last season was any indication.

Brandon Weeden has praised Benjamin's work in the offseason programs, and it's not a surprise: with the new offensive system being more geared toward Weeden throwing the ball down the field, Benjamin's speed will be more valuable than ever. I actually thought Benjamin was the team's most impressive receiver in training camp last year, but he received few opportunities during the regular season (and to be fair, he did drop a couple of passes).

Benjamin is currently the favorite to start in place of Josh Gordon for the first two games of the regular season. Throughout the season, it would not surprise me in the least to see Benjamin seeing action in a lot of four-receiver sets: can you imagine him and Gordon trying to stretch the field together, and then Greg Little and Davone Bess getting to do some underneath work at the same time with space to work with? It sounds great in paper.

Final Roster Odds: 100%

Even if you are busy barbequing on the Fourth of July, check in to Dawgs By Nature. We'll be continuing our wide receiver preview, as we will next talk about David Nelson, Jordan Norwood, Josh Cooper, and Tory Gurley.

Today's poll asks who, in your mind, you would label as the Browns' No. 1 receiver heading into the season?