Cleveland went all out this year to improve their receiver corps.
Gone was Odell Beckham, Jr. during the 2021 season. Jarvis Landry’s lack of production (570 yards) plus the thought of paying him $16.6 million next year found him cut instead. Rashard Higgins was mainly unused during the year with just 275 yards and was allowed to sign elsewhere in free agency now with Carolina. JoJo Natson was hurt more than he played and signed with Detroit.
Donovan Peoples-Jones was no longer a rookie and was expected to play more while the team had drafted two rookie receivers in Demetric Felton and Anthony Schwartz along with other guys who saw the practice squad including Ja’Marcus Bradley, Lawrence Cager and Ryan Switzer.
Browns GM Andrew Berry has since traded for Amari Cooper, signed free agents WR/KR Jakeem Grant and Javon Wims, inked undrafted free agents Isaiah Weston (Northern Iowa), Mike Harley, Jr. (Miami) and Travell Harris (Washington State), tendered Bradley, and then drafted David Bell of Purdue and Michael Woods II out of Oklahoma.
While Bell is a well-known receiver that shined in the Big 10 Conference and at one time was projected as a second round draft pick, the fact that Berry took Woods also in the draft is a bit of a surprise considering the fact that the receiver room was getting pretty full as it was.
Woods, who goes by Mike, was drafted in Round 6 at pick #202. Who is this dude anyway?
Woods (6’-1”, 198 pounds) was raised in Magnolia, Texas with a population of just under 1,400 just 44 miles north of Houston and three hours from Austin. He grew up a Texas Longhorns fan. He went to Magnolia High School which was established in 1912. There Woods was a basketball star and his thought process was that was where his athletic future would be.
He also began playing football in his sophomore year. He showed a lot of ability and by his junior season he had become a dominating receiver in Class 5A by gaining 1,456 yards on 75 receptions with 21 touchdowns. That year he was named Third Team All-State plus First Team All-Montgomery County.
Woods ended up a three-year starter on the football team. For his career he had 155 receptions for 2.988 yards with 41 touchdowns and scored 264 points.
He also totaled 527 kickoff return yards and 193 punt return yards.
He gave up basketball in order to focus on playing football instead when he realized that a scholarship in that sport might be more of a sure thing. In high school he was clocked at 4.76 in the 40. He squatted 330 pounds and benched 205 while he weighed just 188 pounds.
Woods was rated a three-star prospect and had a lot of offers from colleges, although Texas wasn’t one of them. Offers were received from Texas Tech, Virginia, Minnesota, SMU, Indiana, Texas-San Antonio, Louisiana Tech, Iowa State, Texas State, Houston, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, Arkansas and Tulsa.
He settled on SMU because of head coach Chad Morris. When Morris left to take the same job at Arkansas on a six-year deal for the 2018 season, Woods changed his verbal commitment to SMU and followed Morris to Arkansas where he enrolled early and got a head start. There he started as a freshman and spent three years to which he graduated with a degree in Sports Management.
His Arkansas career stats are not eye-popping. Woods started 29 of 32 games with 83 receptions for 1,248 yards and 10 touchdowns for their run-first offense where he played with Treylon Burks who was drafted in the first round by Tennessee.
He had two years of eligibility left with the COVID situation, and then transferred to Oklahoma after his junior year even though when asked where his hometown is he would reply “Fayetteville, Arkansas.”
Woods saw a lot of disdain from the Arkansas fanbase for this decision. He was attacked quite a bit on social media for leaving a school where he was beloved as the Number 1 receiver, but he wanted an opportunity to win a National Championship.
At Oklahoma for his senior year his stats were 9 starts for 11 games with 35 catches for 400 yards and two scores and was named Honorable Mention All-Big 12.
In every season at the collegiate level, Woods never came close to a 1,000-yard season and had 15 drops in four seasons.
Woods received an invitation to play in the Hula Bowl plus the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl All-Star games and chose the latter where he performed well in front of NFL scouts.
From there he was invited to participate in the Combine where he ran a 4.55 in the 40. He also showed his pass catching abilities and was praised for his route running.
Among Woods’ attributes include his physique, work ethic, very smart, arm length, a crisp route runner and able to disguise his route breaks. His weaknesses are tight hips, a one-speed route runner and not very elusive against press coverage.
His twitter handle is @TheMikeWoods.
Scouting report on NFL.com:
“Arkansas transfer with just a single season in Lincoln Riley’s passing game. Woods is a tight-hipped receiver with below-average bend that affects his route running and keeps his work on a vertical plane. He has decent build-up speed and showed improved hands in 2021, but is unlikely to ever be considered a catch winner. Woods has a shot to compete for a practice squad spot but lacks play traits that stand out for the position.”
Scouting report on The Athletic:
“After three seasons (at Arkansas), he sought a more explosive offense and transferred to Oklahoma for the 2021 season. Woods has a long, skinny frame with some build speed to build coverage in vertical patterns. He uses the length of it to reach back or snatch the ball out of his frame, but concentration dips plagued him during his run. He is a linear route runner and lacks the instincts or brake trickery to routinely snap his hips and create an easy split. Overall, Woods displays a wide catch radius and long-striding athleticism, but he doesn’t have any special qualities that set him apart on an NFL depth chart.”
Drafted into the NFL
Cleveland had shown plenty of interest in Woods during the pre-draft process, which included a meeting with a Browns representative at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
Woods can see that a player taken in the sixth round is a long-shot. But the league is full of guys who begin their journey on special teams and then move up like Donovan Peoples-Jones, another sixth round choice. A player can literally be in the league for many years with just playing on special teams.
“As a team player, I’m going to have to get on special teams,” Woods told The Courier recently. “I feel like that’s where it really all starts for me because it shows the coaching staff and the other players and the vets that I’m invested. I’ll do the dirty work first. As a wide receiver, I want to contribute and I think I’ll be able to. Size and speed, ball skills and I’m pretty good at picking up coaching points and picking up a playbook.”
And the dirty work will not bother Woods. His twitter account is full of pancake blocks he has made as a downfield blocker. While the offensive line blocks for first downs, wide receivers block for touchdowns.
There will be plenty of familiar faces for Woods in training camp. DT Perrion Winfrey and DE Isaiah Thomas were both teammates at Oklahoma and were also drafted by the Browns this year.
What Woods’ role will ultimately become will depend on training camp. There are a lot of receivers listed ahead of him that have more experience and speed. He will have to jump the depth chart over players such as Ja’Marcus Bradley to even think about winning the slot position over guys like Schwartz or David Bell.
But if special teams is his calling, Woods is working hard on it already.