Part 2 of our wide receiver preview on the Cleveland Browns will cover the team's three rookies picks after the first round: Ricardo Louis, Jordan Payton, and Rashard Higgins. The order I am previewing these three rookies are the order in which they were drafted.
5. RICARDO LOUIS - BIGGEST ROOKIE RECEIVER WITH VERTICAL SPEED
Despite being drafted in the 4th round, Ricardo Louis is viewed as the least-ready receiver of the team's rookie class, to the point where some draft experts wondered before the draft if he would be switched to running back or defensive back.
Louis is the biggest receiver Cleveland drafted at 6-2, 215 pounds and has good straight-line speed. Players with impressive measurables sometimes get drafted ahead of guys with better production, and that appears to be the case with Louis.
It'll be interesting to see if Hue Jackson at times tries to use Louis in a manner in which he used Mohamed Sanu in Cincinnati. Technically, Terrelle Pryor should be able to do some of those things (run, pass), but Louis ran the ball 66 times for 576 yards during his final three years at Auburn. He could be involved in some end-around or wide receiver screens, as well as the vertical game, taking on the role that Travis Benjamin had the first few years of his career...except with a much bigger frame for Louis.
Final Roster Odds: 100%
6. JORDAN PAYTON - POSSESSION ROOKIE RECEIVER
Jordan Payton, taken early in the 5th round, fits the bill of a possession receiver who can also be a strong blocker. After the team drafted Payton, I had said, "if you have a guy like Payton who starts producing at a consistent level, then you don't really need a Brian Hartline on the roster too." Sure enough, Hartline was cut following the draft.
As far as getting off to a fast start this camp, Payton may be taking a back seat to the rest of the rookies. While the rest of the receivers were at the team's offseason programs, Payton was finishing a class at UCLA so that he could graduate. Payton should make the team, but if Pryor starts like I think he will, then I'm having a hard time seeing Payton on the active roster during gamedays.
Final Roster Odds: 95%
7. RASHARD HIGGINS - COMPLETE GEM ROOKIE RECEIVER
Higgins had a 2nd round grade but fell to the 5th round because some feel he doesn't have the measurables to stand out at the NFL level. His college production was very good -- during his three-year college career at Colordao State, he caught 230 passes for 3,520 yards and 31 touchdowns. Compare that to the other two receivers previewed today in their final three years; Payton caught 183 passes for 2,499 yards and 13 touchdowns, and Louis caught 95 passes for 1,302 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Higgins could be the best of the later three receivers in terms of route running and ball skills. If Terrelle Pryor's development isn't as far along as I had hoped, then Higgins would be my pick to start opposite Coleman. His weakness is his lack of physicality and not being able to break tackles. Can he separate at the line of scrimmage quick enough to show off the skills that matter more -- getting open and catching the ball?
Final Roster Odds: 95%
Today's poll asks which of these three receivers you think will have the best career in the NFL.