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Cleveland Browns Training Camp 2019: WR Preview, Part 1

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The Browns have a dangerous group of receivers in 2019.

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Cleveland Browns Mandatory Mini Camp

Baker Mayfield helped re-invigorate the Cleveland Browns in 2018, putting them on the radar for 2019. However, it was the addition of Odell Beckham Jr to the club that accelerated the process from the Browns being an up-and-coming team to already being a serious contender in the AFC.

There are 12 receivers on the Browns heading into camp, so our preview on the receiver position is broken down into three parts of four players each. We start with Beckham, Jarvis Landry, Antonio Callaway, and Rashard Higgins.


NFL: Cleveland Browns-Minicamp Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

1. Odell Beckham - Elite WR

Height: 5-11 | Weight: 198 lbs | Age: 26
Experience: 6 years | College: LSU

Beckham is easily a Top 5 receiver in the NFL, right up there with Antonio Brown, DeAndre Hopkins, and Julio Jones. In his first three years with the Giants -- sometimes not even playing all 16 games -- he nearly averaged 100 catches, 1,400 yards, and 12 touchdowns per season. The catch that really put him on the map was the one on Sunday Night Football, where he snagged a touchdown in the corner of the end zone with just two fingers.

Since 2014, Beckham leads the NFL in yards on slant patterns, according to Pro Football Focus. Since 2015, Beckham is third in the NFL in forcing missed tackles with 66; his teammate, Jarvis Landry, is second with 72. If Baker Mayfield is able to avoid a sophomore slump, then it would seem that Beckham would be getting a significant upgrade to Eli Manning. Beckham’s frustrations last year seemed to stem from losing games, and to be honest, Pat Shurmur being the head coach couldn’t have helped matters. Beckham will be a star nearly as big as LeBron James was in Cleveland if he can stay healthy, and fans will flock to training camp, hoping to get a glimpse of him. The great thing about Beckham is that this isn’t just a one-year deal; he is with the club through the 2023 season.

Final Roster Odds: 100%


Cleveland Browns Mandatory Mini Camp

2. Jarvis Landry - Starting WR

Height: 5-11 | Weight: 196 lbs | Age: 26
Experience: 6 years | College: LSU

The passion that Jarvis Landry exudes was visible with his viral speech to the receiving room on Hard Knocks last year. He knew he was brought to a team that had not won very much, but he didn’t sulk or slack off — he was determined to be a difference maker and play his part in helping influence his peers that collectively, they need to always give it everything they have, no matter what.

In terms of production, Landry had a very fine season. One could argue that he ever-so-slightly underachieved, and there are some catches that I’m sure he’d tell you that he should have made. By the end of the year, he finished with 81 catches for 976 yards and 4 touchdowns. He also ran for a touchdown and threw the ball a couple of times. Beckham didn’t practice much this offseason due to an undisclosed lower body injury, but he started working out with Baker Mayfield in California earlier this month and should be ready for camp. Landry as a No. 2 option should be a scary proposition for opposing teams’ cornerbacks.

Final Roster Odds: 100%


Cleveland Browns Mandatory Mini Camp

3. Antonio Callaway - Speedy WR

Height: 5-11 | Weight: 200 lbs | Age: 22
Experience: 2 years | College: Florida

Antonio Callaway started off as a very frustrating player in 2018 due to the number of passes he was dropping. I forget what week it was, but there was a certain game where things did a complete 180 for Callaway. At first, I thought to myself, “Oh, he finally had a game without a drop.” Then it became two games. Three games. Four games. It wasn’t a fluke any more -- Callaway had turned the corner with proven results.

Callaway finished his rookie season with 43 catches for 586 yards and 5 touchdowns. One of the surprising things is that he didn’t have more plays on endarounds. Callaway was explosive during minicamp this year and set lofty goals for himself, saying that he wants to catch 10 touchdowns and have 1,000 yards receiving. I don’t doubt that he can do that, but it’ll be tough to attain that on this team with Beckham, Landry, and the other weapons available. PFF also had a fun comparison of the depth of each receivers’ routes, and how Mayfield likes to go downfield:

Final Roster Odds: 100%


Cleveland Browns OTA

4. Rashard Higgins - Solid WR

Height: 6-1 | Weight: 198 lbs | Age: 24
Experience: 4 years | College: Colorado State

With all the hype of the Browns’ top three receivers, we can’t forget about Rashard Higgins. Higgins was an underrated star last year, catching 39 passes for 572 yards and 4 touchdowns -- a high average of 14.7 yards per reception. Previously thought of as just a solid possession receiver, Higgins bucked that trend by catching tightly-contested passes downfield and finding subtle ways of gaining separation. Here is what PFF said about his production under Baker Mayfield, which may surprise you:

With Baker under center for the Browns, Higgins caught a ridiculous 78.6% of his targets and had a 126.9 passer rating when targeted. Higgins also proved to be one of the most reliable deep threats in the league in 2018; among qualified pass-catchers, his reception percentage on deep pass attempts (69.2%) finished behind only Tyler Lockett and Michael Thomas last year.

Statistically, it’ll be hard to predict how many catches Higgins will have. I don’t think this will be a situation where he only sees action in four-receiver sets — he is too good of a player, and Cleveland can balance the workload of Beckham and Landry by making sure Higgins is substituted in for some three-receiver sets. The Browns’ top four spots at receiver should be 100% solidified heading into training camp, and heck, I almost want to bubble wrap all four of them.

Final Roster Odds: 100%

Poll

Do you think the Browns have the best group of four receivers in the NFL?

This poll is closed

  • 89%
    Yes
    (782 votes)
  • 10%
    No
    (87 votes)
869 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Would you be OK if the Browns sat Beckham and Landry (i.e. they play 70% of the snaps) so that Callaway and Higgins get action too?

This poll is closed

  • 77%
    Yes, balance it out
    (669 votes)
  • 22%
    No, utilize the hell out of Beckham and Landry all game
    (189 votes)
858 votes total Vote Now