In Part 2 of our training camp preview on wide receivers for the Cleveland Browns, we take a look at David Nelson, Jordan Norwood, Josh Cooper, and Tori Gurley. Part 1 of our preview can be found here.
5. DAVID NELSON - VETERAN RECEIVER IN RECOVERY
It is difficult to have a pulse on what David Nelson's chances of making the team are. Four receivers are already ahead of him on the depth chart. The Browns only signed him to a one-year deal as he comes off of an ACL injury in 2012.
Despite all of that, Nelson has the credentials to be a great role player for the Browns. At 6-5, he has the height to be a nice red zone threat -- in fact, if the Browns opt to go with two or three receivers down there, it might make sense to use Nelson instead of Davone Bess as the slot receiver.
Despite being an undrafted free agent in 2010, Nelson quickly worked his way up to being a starter for the Bills. He doesn't drop the ball very often, and is actually more comparable to Joe Jurevicius than Bess is, if you're thinking back to the 2007 Rob Chudzinsk offense in Cleveland. You could also think of him as a tight end, Evan Moore type, except that he also has some physicality. Nelson has vowed to be ready-to-go by training camp, despite continuing his rehab through the team's offseason programs.
Final Roster Odds: 80%
6. JORDAN NORWOOD - SHIFTY RECEIVER COMPETING FOR NO. 5 SPOT
I am a huge fan of Jordan Norwood and his ability to get open. In just two games last year, Norwood was targeted 19 times, catching 13 passes for 137 yards. He is shifty, has pretty good hands, and can also be utilized in the punt return game. That all sounds fine-and-dandy, but the question is this: what does he offer that the guys on the depth chart in front of him don't offer?
Davone Bess is firmly entrenched as the Browns' slot receiver, so that role is taken out of the question for Norwood. Travis Benjamin is the team's primary punt returner and fourth receiver, and even if they wanted a backup punt returner, Bess has that role locked up as well.
This is where Norwood, for his sake, has to hope that David Nelson isn't the same player he was pre-ACL, or is slow to come back from his injury. If Norwood really impresses during training camp for the new coaching staff, there's a chance he could even beat out a healthy Nelson. The biggest thing Norwood has going for him right now is that Josh Gordon was suspended for the first two games of the regular season -- that makes it more likely that Cleveland will carry an extra receiver to begin the season. If Norwood is that guy and is able to make something happen, he could hang around on the roster even when Gordon returns.
Final Roster Odds: 60%
7. JOSH COOPER - WEEDEN'S PAL COMPETING FOR NO. 5 SPOT
Josh Cooper gained a lot of support in training camp and the regular season last year by virtue of being Brandon Weeden's college teammate. While Cooper did offer a couple of memorable plays (sadly, for our offense, that simply means, "converting a third down"), I was a little disappointed in Cooper's rookie season.
My disappointment wasn't necessarily Cooper's fault, but I thought the chemistry between he and Weeden would have been at a higher level than it was. There were a couple of overthrows or things that just didn't work out when the duo tried to hook up.
Nonetheless, Cooper will be in the same boat as Norwood in training camp. He's not as shifty as Norwood, but can be a possession receiver who does show good chemistry in camp with Weeden. I have the final roster odds being the same for Norwood and Cooper -- a 50/50 chance for each guy to make the roster during Gordon's suspension, and the extra 10% for each comes into play if Nelson fails to make it.
Final Roster Odds: 60%
8. TORI GURLEY - HEAVILY TRAVELED BACKUP RECEIVER
Since entering the league as an undrafted free agent, Tori Gurley has been exposed to a lot of NFL rosters. In fact, you'd think that he was on a personal mission to be the first player to be on all 32 teams during his career or something.
Gurley has never actually been on a 53-man roster, but the Browns are his seventh team since 2011. The big thing that stands out about him is his size: he's close to David Nelson in height at 6-4, but is at least 15 pounds heavier at 230 pounds.
The question that has surrounded Gurley, according to ESPN Rumor Centrals Brent Sobleski, is whether he can create separation at the NFL level. We'll see if he can come on strong in camp, or if it's just a matter of time before he ends up searching for his eighth NFL team.
Final Roster Odds: 1%
On Friday, or preview on the wide receivers will conclude with notes on Dominique Croom, Keenan Davis, Mike Edwards, and Cordell Roberson.
Our poll today asks who you'd like to see as the No. 5 receiver.