The next position for our 2016 Josh Gordon) heading into camp, and we'll split them into a three-part series. Part 1 will cover Corey Coleman, Andrew Hawkins, Terrelle Pryor, and Taylor Gabriel. Part 2 will cover the other three rookies picks: Jordan Payton, Ricardo Louis, and Rashard Higgins. Part 3 will look at Marlon Moore, Darius Jennings, Rannell Hall, and Dennis Parks.training camp preview features the team's wide receivers. There are 11 receivers on the roster (not including
1. COREY COLEMAN - STARTING ROOKIE WIDE RECEIVER
The 15th overall pick of this year's draft, Coleman was the analytical darling of his class. Pro Football Focus says he possesses an "elite suddenness with his movement," which he uses to make big plays after the catch. They called Coleman the best receiver in the draft in the months leading up to it, and broke down a couple of his plays here. Coleman is not just a plug-and-play replacement for Benjamin, who was very much a straight-line runner who finally improved his catching ability as a fourth-year player.
The most important thing about all of this is that the Browns believe in Coleman's playmaking ability, and I feel his utilization will be integral to Hue Jackson's gameplan this season. The team is also considering using him on special teams as a kick and/or punt returner. It's hard to put a projection on Coleman's rookie season, but how about we set a goal for him. Last year, Amari Cooper caught 72 passes for 1,070 yards and 6 touchdowns. Can he beat it?
Final Roster Odds: 100%
2. ANDREW HAWKINS - PROJECTED SLOT RECEIVER
I firmly believe that if the Browns weren't interested in Andrew Hawkins playing a significant role this year, they would've cut him already. He is the most experienced receiver on the team, but is coming off of a down season. In 2015, he caught 27 passes for 276 yards and 0 touchdowns. Multiple concussions derailed the second half of his season.
Hawkins was not directly coached by Hue Jackson while he was with the Cincinnati Bengals (Jackson was a defensive coach at the time), but the two are no doubt well-acclimated to each other already. Hawkins' best work in the NFL has come as a slot receiver -- when the offense is clicking, he'll beat the majority of slot corners on his first step to convert third downs. After Corey Coleman, all of the Browns' draft picks were taller receivers, lending support to the fact that Hawkins will stay in the slot.
Hawkins is viewed as being a high-character player and has ambitions to be a front office executive one day. He is under contract through 2017, and his contract was structured so that the final two years of his deal would come at a bargain: he has a $1 million cap hit this year, and a $1.8 million cap hit next year.
Final Roster Odds: 100%
3. TERRELLE PRYOR - COMPETING TO BE A STARTING WIDE RECEIVER
There hasn't been a lot of talk about him yet, but get ready for Terrelle Pryor to be the talk of the Browns in the first week or so of camp. Last year's feel-good story/fantasy was derailed by a hamstring injury that kept him out several weeks. Last year, he got a late-season call-up and caught 1 pass for 42 yards against the Steelers. Although that play was nice to see, he still looked pretty rough around the edges.
This offseason, Pryor has already credited wide receivers coach Al Saunders for helping improve his craft. Pryor has been vocal about wanting to leverage his size against cornerbacks. "I just really want to go beat up on some corners,'' said Pryor, back in March. "Catch the ball over them, run past them, catch the ball stiff-arm them whatever, it doesn't matter."
Pryor is still very much a project, but I think there is a great chance the results we see from him at the beginning of camp will make him a favorite to be one of the team's starting receivers. Last year, he saw himself as a work-in-progress, knowing the experiment might fail. Now, I think he sees himself as a receiver who knows he's going to get the opportunity to shine from the outset. That mental difference will allow him to be an entirely different player.
Final Roster Odds: 90%
4. TAYLOR GABRIEL - COMPETING FOR A SLOT RECEIVER ROLE
The returning receiver on the roster who will be most victimized by the team drafting four wide receivers is Taylor Gabriel.
As a rookie back in 2014, Gabriel beat the odds and made the team as an undrafted free agent. He also caught 36 passes for 621 yards, proving to be a surprising long-ball threat. Last year was a disastrous season for him, though. He caught 28 passes, but for only 241 yards. There was also a stretch in which he had a costly fumble and a series of drops that were uncharacteristic of his career up until that point.
The thing that goes against Gabriel is that even if he comes back with a great camp in 2016, his roster odds aren't very good. If the three players already discussed today make the team, and the team's three other rookie draft picks make the roster, then that is six receivers already. I think Marlon Moore will make the team again as a special teams ace, and he's your bonus seventh receiver. Josh Gordon might even be back.
Although Gabriel was used as an outside receiver for much of the past two years, his size puts him more as a slot guy, a spot that Hawkins already has down pat. Gabriel's best chance of making the team is if Hawkins suffers another concussion during the preseason; otherwise, he'll have to find a new club.
Final Roster Odds: 20%
I really wish I could do a poll for all four of these guys. Instead, I'll do my best to somewhat awkwardly combine two poll questions into one.