The Cleveland Browns finished the 2018 season with a group of wide receivers who were on the rise.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield would likely be content to see the same group of players in the room come training camp, but that may not be the case as general manager John Dorsey has some free agent business to deal with.
While wide receiver Rashard Higgins will likely return as the Browns will place a free agent tender on him, the news is less certain about wide receiver Breshad Perriman, who appears to be following the Terrelle Pryor plan previously laid out by “super agent” Drew Rosenhaus.
If (when?) things go south with Perriman, Dorsey may turn his gaze to the 2019 NFL Draft for a wide receiver. And if he does, what kind of wide receiver would Dorsey prefer?
A big one who can run, naturally, as Dorsey explained at the NFL Scouting Combine, according to clevelandbrowns.com:
“I think it comes down to the individual person and what makes them click. I’d like to have a 6-3 guy that can run 4.3. I’d take that every day but you’re not going to get those guys. You really want competitive guys that love the game of football.”
There are a pair of players that fit the first criteria that the Browns’ website called out in particular, so Browns fans may want to keep an eye on them.
The first is Iowa State redshirt junior Hakeem Butler, who is 6-foot-5 and 227 pounds, according to NFL.com. (Mayfield would clearly have no trouble finding Butler on the field.) Butler was an All-Big 12 second-team selection in 2018, finishing the year with 60 receptions for 1,318 yards and nine touchdowns. He showed steady progress during his time with the Cyclones, going from nine catches as a redshirt freshman to his output last season.
Butler has the size, but there are still questions about his hands and his speed, as NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah told the Des Moines Register:
“He’s a little bit of a long-strider, a little bit plodding as a runner. When you get to the top of your route, can he get in and out? It’s tough. There’s a reason why we don’t see that many 6-foot-6 wide receivers in the NFL. It’s tough to get in and out of your break at the size. So, that’s going to be something that he can display at the combine.”
The other wide receiver is Arizona State’s N’Keal Harry, who is 6-foot-2 and 228 pounds. According to his draft profile at NFL.com, Harry:
became ASU’s go-to weapon as a true freshman, starting all 12 games and leading all freshman nationally with 58 receptions (659 yards, five TD). Harry was a first-team All-Pac-12 choice as a sophomore, leading the conference with 87 receiving yards per game (82-1,142, eight TD) as a 13-game starter. He was a first-team all-conference pick as a junior, as well, covering 1,088 yards and scoring nine times on 73 receptions (14.9 average) in 12 games.
Just like Butler, there are questions about Harry’s speed. But Charlie Fisher, Arizona State’s wide receivers coach, told si.com that is not an issue:
“I would argue he can create separation and he did. He’s got really good feet for a big guy. He can separate and there are a lot of clips on tape of him doing that. As a big guy, there are not a lot of big guys who are flat-out 4.4 guys. But you combine 225 pounds and 6’ 3½” with really good feet and he’s hard to beat on breaking routes, in or out.”
The wide receivers go through their field drills on Saturday and, thanks to their size, Browns fans, as well as Dorsey, will have no trouble spotting Butler or Harry.