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Browns can pass on John Ross

Cincinnati open to trading wide receiver, but Browns don’t need to spend time on former first-round selection.

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NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

It may seem as if the Cleveland Browns are the only team to miss on first-round draft picks, but all one has to do is look south to see that is not true.

That became clear on Tuesday with the news that the Cincinnati Bengals are reportedly open to trading wide receiver John Ross, the team’s first-round selection (No. 9 overall) in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Ross only appeared in three games his rookie season due to an injury and did not catch a pass. In 2018, he played in 13 games, making 10 starts, and while he did catch seven touchdown passes, he finished the season with just 21 receptions for 210 yards. More concerning, his career catch percentage is just 36.2 percent.

After a loss to the Carolina Panthers last season, former Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis had this to say about Ross’ effort, according to USA Today:

“Well he’s got to do a better job on the ball. He’s just (got to) do the best job, he’s got to finish the play. Everybody’s got to protect the quarterback, whether it’s the guys up front, whether it’s the backs, whether it’s the receiver, whoever it may be.”

The Browns may be in the market for additional playmakers for quarterback Baker Mayfield, but it would be hard to make a case that Ross fits that description. He may be fast - he set a record in the 40-yard dash two years ago at the NFL Scouting Combine - but there is more to the game than just speed and Ross did not show that with the Bengals.

To put it another way, a year before the Bengals drafted Ross, the Browns selected a wide receiver in the first round of the draft. In his first two seasons in Cleveland, that player posted 56 receptions for 718 yards, five touchdowns and had a catch rate of 42.7 percent.

That wide receiver? Corey Coleman, who was run out of town at the first opportunity.

If Coleman was not good enough for the Browns, who are working hard to build a better tomorrow, then the team should be able to do better than working out a deal for Ross.

After all, how many reclamation projects can one team realistically have on its roster?