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Training camp storylines to watch: Who will win WR3?

There are many hats in the ring for the third receiver this year

Wow. So many great receivers this year in training camp. With OBJ’s unexpected early return from knee surgery last year, this year’s crop of pass catchers are going to light up the receiver room.

Cleveland Browns Off-Season Workout
Chad O’Shea
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Receivers coach Chad O’Shea has done an excellent job at molding the young talent to blend with the established guys. Jarvis Landry and OBJ will give every defense heartaches, and then you add the additional talent of Rashard Higgins, KhaDarel Hodge, DPJ, Ryan Switzer, Derrick Willies, JoJo Natson, Alexander Hollins, Ja’Marcus Bradley and rookie Anthony Schwartz and this year’s group is stellar.

Who will win that elusive WR3 spot? Let’s debate.


Thomas Moore

The competition among the wide receivers for playing time behind Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. will be an interesting one during training camp and the preseason.

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Donovan Peoples-Jones #11
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If head coach Kevin Stefanski actually designates someone as the “third wide receiver” it will likely be Rashard Higgins getting the nod, given his veteran status and undeniable chemistry with quarterback Baker Mayfield. But that might be in name only, as the position will be filled on a weekly basis by whichever match-up most benefits the Browns, so Donovan Peoples-Jones will see plenty of playing time, and KhaDarel Hodge might even hit the field on occasion.

A player to keep an eye on is rookie Anthony Schwartz. While he still needs to refine his game, if Schwartz can show the ability to catch the ball, opposing defenses will have to account for him whenever he is on the field.

Pick: Rashard Higgins


Kristy Acuti

Administrator: Browns Fans Only

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Who’s gonna make the WR squad?? With training camp coming up just about three weeks, you got to wonder, what’s it going to take to make the team and become the third receiver? Wide receiver coach Chad O’Shea has his hands full. We know OBJ and Jarvis Landry are in, but who follows behind? Rashard “Hollywood” Higgins has been stepping up during practice according to Coach Alex Van Pelt. The fact that he is at practice has shown maturity and commitment I think that both fans and critics can appreciate.

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Rashard Higgins
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Then you have DPJ, who is coming off a pretty stellar rookie season - but I also hearing that he has some consistency issues. KhaDarel Hodge is another one that had a pretty decent season but with five conference championships and three Super Bowl rings under his belt, I doubt Coach O’Shea Is settling for decent. Then you have rookie Anthony Schwartz. He wasn’t at mini-camp and he’s a rookie. So unless he can really show his stuff, it’s certainly a straight, uphill battle for him. JoJo Natson fits in there somewhere too, but I doubt his piece fits this puzzle.

In all honesty, I don’t see the third wide receiver position going to anybody but Hollywood. This is his job to lose and whoever we don’t sign, will be starting on another team Week 1.

Pick: Rashard Higgins


Barry Shuck

What a great problem to have this year: too many good receivers. OBJ’s injury last season usually is a complete year of rehab, but word is he will be ready to start in Week 1. How awesome is that? Hopefully he hasn’t lost any of that top-shelf speed.

DPJ appears ready to step into that WR3 spot this year. He has long arms and deceptive speed. The odds are that Rashard Higgins will get his nod. He won this slot in last year’s training camp, and by Week 3 wasn’t even playing. Somehow KhaDarel Hodge had wrangled away the third receiver spot and kept that position. When Beckham became injured, Higgins was thrown into that #2 receiver spot above Hodge instead of below him. Ja’Marcus Bradley has great speed and has shows a lot of improvement.

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But my money is on the rookie, Anthony Schwartz. Yes, I wrote that. Just listen to my reasoning before you blow this off. The Browns know that to become AFC Elite you must trend towards those clubs that are already there. Meaning, the Kansas City Chiefs. Their number 10, Tyreek Hill, blows the doors off that offense. The jet sweep and the short crossing patterns are when he is the biggest threat. Guess what? Schwartz’s best plays are the jet sweep and the short passing downs where he can make a short gain into a longer one. Sound familiar?

Schwartz is a former track star that set a new World record at “Boy’s World Youth Best” in high school in the 100 meter dash with a run of 10.15. The old record had lasted nine years. Schwartz regularly competed in the 60 meters, 200, and 4x100. He has also competed in the USA Junior Championships plus get this: the U.S. Olympic Trials. He was named the Broward County Florida Track and Field Athlete of the Year in 2017.

Is it any coincidence that Schwartz is wearing number 10?

Also, do not count out Donovan Peoples-Jones to take over one of the starting receiver spots once Jarvis or Beckham have left.

Pick: Anthony Schwartz


Jacob Amstel

President: Browns Backers with a Twist

Cleveland, Ohio

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The third receiver position battle in training camp is a toss up in my opinion. The spot should belong to Rashard Higgins as he has proved the most at the professional level. However, both former head coach Freddie Kitchens and now head coach Kevin Stefanski did not use Higgins at the beginning of the year the past two seasons. I am not sure why Higgins hasn’t been able to take control of the third receiver position as his chemistry with Baker Mayfield is undeniable. My concern with Higgins is that he is another Jarvis Landry type receiver with dependable hands, but not a lot of speed.

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KhaDarel Hodge has really improved since we first got to know of him. His hands are solid and he is a great blocker in the run game. With the amount of times the Browns run the ball, I would not be surprised if Hodge is on the field with Odell Beckham Jr. and Landry. Although Hodge will not draw extra attention or be a major weapon on the offense, he can do the little things correctly and contribute to big plays without touching the ball.

Donovan Peoples-Jones was a delight to watch last season. Although he only had a handful of catches, it seemed like every catch was an important one. His size and hands are very intriguing to this offense. From what i understand, he has put in the work this off-season to improve even more from his days at Michigan. I think DPJ is a receiver being groomed for the post-Beckham Jr. and Landry days and needs a little more time to develop as a Receiver 1 or 2.

Third-round pick Anthony Schwartz’s speed is obviously eye-opening. He struggled with route running in college and has been working with the veteran receivers this off-season to improve. Ideally, Schwartz would be a great third receiver on this team to keep the safeties away from the box as much as possible, however, he is a third-round rookie that many projected was taken too high. It is important for Schwartz to learn and develop before utilizing his down field abilities. Look for more end around plays and quick throws his way to use his speed in space.

I think the best receiver to fit this offense is Hodge. He is not the sexiest pick, but with the offense having the weapons that they do, they do not need sexy at the third receiver position. Stefanski uses two tight ends and they got pass catching ones in Hooper and Njoku. Hodge’s blocking and route running abilities will get him the third receiver position. Look for this change though as Higgins again establishes himself as Baker’s favorite third down and red zone target or DPJ’s improvement in the downfield passing game.

Pick: KhaDarel Hodge

Poll

What say you? Who will win WR3?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Ja’Marcus Bradley
    (4 votes)
  • 64%
    Rashard Higgins
    (696 votes)
  • 3%
    KhaDarel Hodge
    (43 votes)
  • 23%
    Donovan Peoples-Jones
    (254 votes)
  • 6%
    Anthony Schwartz
    (70 votes)
  • 1%
    Ryan Switzer
    (11 votes)
1078 votes total Vote Now

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