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Top combine speed has rarely led to NFL success for receivers

As the Browns look for speed, top performers as the combine haven’t always produced

Minnesota Vikings v Washington Redskins Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Adding speed at the receiver position is always a goal for the Cleveland Browns and pretty much every other team in the NFL. That statement is overly simplified because speed is a trait but is rarely as important as the ability to catch, separate (quickness a bigger factor here) and nuanced route running.

The Browns are in a unique position at wide receiver for a number of reasons. First, Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones are locked in as the team’s top two threats and deserve those positions. Then, they spent third-round picks on Anthony Schwartz and David Bell in back-to-back years. While Schwartz has struggled, Bell showed flashes of being a dependable slot receiver for years to come.

On top of that, with TE David Njoku and RB Nick Chubb, Cleveland has five guys that should get most of the snaps at the skill positions.

That doesn’t mean they should add depth but, compared to the defensive line, linebacker and safety positions, the offensive weapons are in much better shape.

If the Browns do want to add a receiver in the NFL draft, focusing on who runs fast at the NFL combine is unlikely to provide top talent. An interesting data set shows that just one of the top 29 fastest receivers in combine history has topped 1,000 yards ever in a season:

While the 40-yard dash is fun to talk about (and some receivers didn’t run at the combine), it is surprising to see that only one of the fastest has ever topp 1,000 yards.

As always, speed and height are fun traits but there are other traits and skills that are more important than either of those. If a player has the nuances noted above like route running and hands, adding size and/or speed is helpful. Without those nuances, as we have seen with the speedy Schwartz, those fun traits are mostly pointless.