In the lull of the NFL offseason, rankings, lists and “X players who will _____” will fill the time. They are great fodder for discussion, anger, frustration and hype. As we know, they mean almost nothing but give a bigger-picture perspective on the NFL.
For the Cleveland Browns, any of these NFL power rankings will be taken with a grain of salt. Browns fans have seen their team hyped up many times only to fall flat on their face when games actually start. Cleveland has become a “Show Me!” city when it comes to football.
The lastest rankings present some intrigue for the team which could rekindle the argument for signing WR DeAndre Hopkins. Pro Football Focus, which often seems to give the Browns very positive marks, has the team’s wide receiver group ranked 22nd overall:
Amari Cooper is the unquestioned WR1 in Cleveland, but it’s been tough sledding over the last few seasons with not much passing game talent around him. Things do look better this season, as they added Elijah Moore, who recorded a 73.8 receiving grade as the Jets slot receiver in 2021, and Cedric Tillman, who gives them a strong contested catch possession receiver.
Throw in the deep threat ability of Donovan Peoples-Jones and David Njoku at tight end, and it’s a group that should be much better than they were last season.
Even the explanation leaves us scratching our heads: ‘Cooper had no support. The team added a slot guy who hasn’t produced a ton and a third-round receiver. Plus, don’t forget two of the guys who caused it to be “tough sledding” last year.’
Looking at a couple of teams just ahead of Cleveland creates even more befuddlement. The New Orleans Saints, with Chris Olave and (has played just 10 games the last three seasons) Michael Thomas are considered good enough to be over the Browns as are the Washington Commanders with the amazing Terry McLaurin and a lot of being “hopeful.”
In the end, Cleveland’s passing attack will depend on QB Deshaun Watson to use the talent on the roster as well as elevate it. If the Browns receivers really are the 22nd-best group in the league by the end of the year, the team will be lambasted for not signing Hopkins.
Where do you think the Browns receiver group should rank right now?