In Part 1 of our Cleveland Browns training camp preview on the wide receiver position, we looked at the top five players on the depth chart. In Part 2, we will take a look at the next group of four players who will be looking to make an impression.
6. VINCE MAYLE - ROOKIE WIDE RECEIVER
For the past two years, many fans have been begging for the Browns to draft a wide receiver. While the Browns might lack star power at receiver with Josh Gordon gone, where does a guy like Vince Mayle really fit in?
The Browns added WR Dwayne Bowe and WR Brian Hartline this offseason. Does anybody think either of them are going to sit in favor of a rookie? What about WR Andrew Hawkins? Not a chance. I'd argue that with how impressive WR Taylor Gabriel was last year, he deserves a good amount of playing time too. Now, all of a sudden, you're labeling Mayle as the team's fifth receiver on the depth chart at best, and we all know that fifth receivers rarely see snaps on gameday.
This is where the Browns are likely going to have to use Mayle as a roster stash for most of 2015, with the hopes that he can mature into a player who can replace either Bowe or Hartline in 2016. As Dane Bruglar discussed in his pre-draft scouting on Mayle, he still needs to be molded into an NFL receiver both on and off the field:
A former basketball player at the JUCO level, he is viewed as a hybrid H-back/tight end by some scouts, but showed more natural receiving traits as a senior and although he’s not quite as gifted as Louisville’s DeVante Parker, Mayle is a lesser talented prospect in a similar mold. It’s clear he’s still learning the tricks of the trade and his passion for football needs to be addressed, but Mayle is an easy player to get excited about with his size, athleticism and the upside his talent suggests – projects as a NFL starter in year two.
Mayle had thumb surgery this offseason that limited him in OTAs and minicamp, but he's expected to be ready for training camp.
Final Roster Odds: 100%
7. MARLON MOORE - SPECIAL TEAMS WIDE RECEIVER
The Browns signed Marlon Moore just before the start of last year's training camp. Moore only played a handful of snaps at wide receiver on the year. His primary contributions came as a special teams ace. He led the team with 13 kick returns for 322 yards, a 24.8 average. At the end of the season, Moore had a couple of really nice kick returns, including a touchdown, called back due to penalties.
Moore was second on the team with 9 special teams tackles and he also forced a fumble. His highlight game came in Week 14 against the Indianapolis Colts, when he shut down WR Joshua Cribbs with three smashing tackles, including the aforementioned forced fumble.
The most receptions Moore has ever had in a single season is six. It's clear that at this point in his career, he's not going to be utilized as a wide receiver. I have no idea whether he can play defensive back, but the Browns should consider seeing how he fares there for depth purposes -- otherwise, he's going to get caught in a numbers game. He's already likely to be replaced as the team's kick returner, and I have six receivers ahead of him on the depth chart. Will there be a roster spot available for a special teams gunner? There might be, because of how good he was at it last year, but I'm leaning towards "no."
Final Roster Odds: 40%
8. RODNEY SMITH - TALL BACKUP WIDE RECEIVER
Now entering his third year out of Florida State, Rodney Smith is a big-bodied receiver -- his 6-5 height makes him the team's tallest receiver in camp.
Smith was signed by the Vikings as an undrafted free agent in 2013. He spent five weeks on the team's practice squad before he was promoted to the 53-man roster for assistance on special teams. He was with the Vikings through last October, when he was waived and then claimed by the Browns.
I'm a little obsessed with discussing how Josh McCown has been at his best when he lobs the ball up to taller receivers. However, given the fact that Smith will probably be playing more with the second- and third-team offenses in camp, I don't know how much we're really going to see that possible connection. Smith will likely compete for a spot on the practice squad, where he could be an asset for our defensive backs on the scout team offense when Cleveland goes up against taller receivers.
Final Roster Odds: ~5%
9. KEVIN CONE - SPECIAL TEAMS WIDE RECEIVER
Kevin Cone entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2011. He spent his first three seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, where he was active for 29 games, almost purely as a special teamer.
Cone bounced between the Miami Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year before the Browns added him to their practice squad in mid-October. Because he's in a similar position as Marlon Moore, it's difficult to project Cone making the Browns' roster as a wide receiver.
Final Roster Odds: ~1%
Today's poll asks whether you feel Vince Mayle will receive a decent amount of reps in the rotation at the beginning of the season, or will basically be a reserve player.