The Cleveland Browns have had their share of dynamic wide receiver groups through the decades.
From Paul Warfield and Gary Collins in the 1960s, to Dave Logan and Reggie Rucker in the late 1970s, on through Webster Slaughter, Reggie Langhorne and Brian Brennan in the late 1980s, the Browns have found a way at times to terrorize opposing defenses through the air.
The Browns now have a new duo in town that, if they live up to the hype, could join and possibly even surpass their predecessors in team lore.
When general manager John Dorsey opened the new league year with a trade for Odell Beckham Jr. to pair with Jarvis Landry, he created the league’s top duo at the position, according to Gil Brandt, an NFL Media Senior Analyst at NFL.com (and soon-to-be-Pro Football Hall of Famer:
In 2018, no Browns player topped 1,000 receiving yards, while quarterback Baker Mayfield only appeared in 14 games, and still, Cleveland ranked 14th in passing yards. General manager John Dorsey set out to give Mayfield more to work with -- and he couldn’t have done much better than making a blockbuster trade for Beckham. Last season, Landry was the focal point of the Browns’ passing attack, given a team-high 149 targets (tied for ninth-most in the NFL), but he only managed 12 yards per catch. He’s got great hands and the quickness to get loose on, say, a crucial third-and-5 slant, but he’s not really a big-play guy. It didn’t help that defenders could roll their coverage toward him. Between the reunion of these former LSU teammates (in their final season together as Tigers, Beckham and Landry combined for 136 catches, 2,345 receiving yards and 18 TD catches) and the emergence of second-year pro Antonio Callaway as a deep threat, Landry should be able to do much more damage in the slot.
Brandt is certainly on to something here - especially if Beckham can stay healthy.
If you take away the 2017 season, when Beckham only played four games due to injuries, he has averaged 91 receptions, 1,293 yards and 10 touchdowns a season in his NFL career - and he did that with the decomposing corpse of quarterback Eli Manning throwing him the ball in New York.
And while Landry arrived in Cleveland a bit over-hyped because of the whole “400 catches in four years” narrative, he is still a solid receiver who has averaged more than 1,000 yards a season over the past five years.
Pair those two with a full season of Baker Mayfield at quarterback and it is easy to see how Brandt reached his conclusion. (Although a healthy A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd, who came in at No. 8, may have an argument.)
The Browns will not play a game that matters for another five-and-a-half months, but the hype around the team remains at an all-time high.
But if Brandt is right, that hype will turn into some exciting reality come the fall.