Last year, the definitive punt returner for the Cleveland Browns was WR Travis Benjamin while the team used an array of players at kick returner. With Benjamin gone, special teams coordinator Chris Tabor has to find a way to fill that void, and one of the team's 14 rookies could be the favorites to do so.
During Tabor's OTA press conference on Wednesday, he was asked which of the team's four rookie receivers were options to return kickoffs or punts. "The (Corey) Coleman kid is," said Tabor. "He can do both. He's an explosive player, and he’s developing right now. We’re working on all those things." When asked to elaborate further on what Coleman's style as a punt returner would be, here's what he had to say:
"Obviously, he has great speed. He has, what I would say, some really good short-area quickness. Make you miss type of guy, then has a good burst to go. He’s doing a nice job for us, and we’ve just got to keep developing him." On how long-term a first-round draft pick would be as a punt returner: "I’ll be honest with you, I never think of them as first-round draft picks. If that’s the best option and best player that you have that’s what you want to do. If it’s going to help you win that’s what we want to do. I don’t get caught up in where a guy’s at just from this standpoint – (WR) Antonio Brown for the Steelers might be regarded as one of the best players in the NFL and he’s their punt returner."
As for the other contenders to handle returns, Tabor singled out CB Justin Gilbert and RB Raheem Mostert for kick returns. I imagine that WR Marlon Moore would also be in the mix as a fallback plan. On punt returns, he vaguely noted that they were "developing guys" before mentioning Coleman again, as well as Mostert and veteran CB Tramon Williams.