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Cleveland Browns Training Camp 2020: WR Preview (Part 1)

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We know who the Browns’ top two receivers are, but what about everyone else?

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Baltimore Ravens v Cleveland Browns Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

With our running back previews complete, it is time to turn our attention to the wide receiver position. This will be broken down into three parts, starting with Odell Beckham Jr, Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, and Damion Ratley.


Cleveland Browns v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

1. Odell Beckham - Starting WR

Height: 5-11 | Weight: 198 lbs | Age: 27
Experience: 7 years | College: LSU

It’s funny how having 74 catches for 1,035 yards and 4 touchdowns seemed like a lackluster season in Odell Beckham’s first year with the Browns, since a lot of receivers would kill to have those stats. This is a case where it’s necessary to have watched and experienced the frustrations of the 2019 offense all season. The chemistry between Baker Mayfield and Beckham never developed. You can see the number of throws in this clip from Mayfield that were uncatchable, even for a guy like Beckham:

Beckham played in all 16 games for the Browns, but concealed the fact that he was bothered by a core muscle injury all season. He had surgery this offseason on it, and as of this week, Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski says that Beckham is “100 percent and looking really good.”

People have had some issues with Beckham’s visible frustrations during games, or lapses where it looks like he doesn’t give full effort on a play. I think the main problem is that he wants to win badly, and gets frustrated when the team underachieves, which they did a lot of last year. Stefanski’s offense typically doesn’t air it out to receivers all game long, but I think Beckham is most concerned with winning. Let’s hope the team can be efficient on offense and everything works harmoniously.

Final Roster Odds: 100%


Baltimore Ravens v Cleveland Browns Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

2. Jarvis Landry - Starting WR

Height: 5-11 | Weight: 196 lbs | Age: 27
Experience: 7 years | College: LSU

How can you not love Jarvis Landry’s passion? He was more of a possession receiver with the Dolphins, but showed off a lot of big-play potential in 2019 as he caught 83 passes for 1,174 yards (14.1 yards per catch) and 6 touchdowns. The yardage and average per catch marks were career highs for Landry.

Per Pro Football Focus, Landry ran 193 routes last year and was targeted 43 times when QB Baker Mayfield was under pressure (22.3% target rate). That target rate — when a quarterback was under pressure — ranked second in the NFL, only behind the RamsCooper Kupp. Landry also had the most receptions (36) in the NFL off of a playaction pass, something that Stefanski calls a lot. He should be a great fit for this offense.

Landry has not missed a game in his 6 NFL seasons. For much of last season, he played through a hip injury, which he decided to get surgery on in February. The timetable for his recovery was expected to be around training camp, and all indications are that his recovery is on track and going well. The team will take it easy with him at first to make sure he’s fully recovered.

Final Roster Odds: 100%


Buffalo Bills v Cleveland Browns Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

3. Rashard Higgins - Backup WR

Height: 6-1 | Weight: 198 lbs | Age: 25
Experience: 5 years | College: Colorado State

I think most fans like Rashard Higgins. In 2018, he had 39 catches for 572 yards and 4 touchdowns, showing good chemistry with Baker Mayfield. The 2019 season was supposed to be a big season for him since it was a contract year. Instead, it was one to forget, and not because his skills diminished. Higgins was firmly entrenched as the No. 3 receiver heading into Week 1, but then suffered a knee injury against the Titans.

For the rest of the season, it became a running gag that Higgins was ready to return, only for him to be inactive. And when he was active, head coach Freddie Kitchens would make it sound like that they had packages ready for Higgins, only for fans to see him utilized on special teams while Damion Ratley or KhaDarel Hodge saw receiver steps instead. The truth of the matter was that Higgins had been buried in Kitchens’ doghouse for whatever reason — the rumor was that Kitchens thought he could’ve returned from injury sooner, or something like that.

I wouldn’t have blamed Higgins for wanting to get out of Cleveland, but the big problem in the equation — Kitchens — is gone. Andrew Berry is back as the GM, who has ties to when Higgins was selected. On top of that, with all of the craziness of the pandemic, players like Higgins couldn’t really do “free agent visits.” Since Cleveland didn’t add a third receiver in free agency or the draft, and Higgins still likes working with Mayfield and the city of Cleveland, it made a lot of sense for both parties to re-unite. Hopefully, Kevin Stefanski can find the efficiency in Higgins that we all see in him; however, that won’t necessarily mean a lot of work, as the top two receivers, running backs, and tight ends are all expected to see more targets than the No. 3 receiver in his offense.

Final Roster Odds: 90%


Tennessee Titans v Cleveland Browns Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

4. Damion Ratley - Backup WR

Height: 6-2 | Weight: 200 lbs | Age: 25
Experience: 3 years | College: Texas A&M

Ratley was the main beneficiary of Higgins’ demotion last year. In 13 games, Ratley caught 12 passes for 200 yards and 1 touchdown. He might be most remembered for two plays last year — first, the pass from Odell Beckham that he couldn’t haul in...

...and then his touchdown grab against the Bengals late in the year:

Ratley has a good combination of size and speed, and showed some promise last year. Ratley and Higgins were among the players who went down to Texas in May for a workout session with Baker Mayfield. All of the receiver positions after Beckham and Landry are really up-in-the-air, and Ratley will have to fight hard for a roster spot, knowing the team has a couple of special team candidate receivers ready to take one spot, and rookie Donovan Peoples-Jones possibly taking another.

Final Roster Odds: 50%


Poll

Given the lack of offseason time, do you think we’ll see better chemistry between Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham?

This poll is closed

  • 72%
    Yes
    (374 votes)
  • 24%
    It’ll be about the same
    (124 votes)
  • 3%
    It’ll get worse, leading to more frustration
    (17 votes)
515 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Will Rashard Higgins make the Browns’ final roster?

This poll is closed

  • 94%
    Yes
    (439 votes)
  • 5%
    No
    (28 votes)
467 votes total Vote Now

Note: We will have a poll asking about the team’s No. 3 receiver job in the next preview, and that poll will include both Higgins and Ratley.