The Browns don't have a lot to lose, and with Josh Gordon, they have a lot to gain.
Even though it cost them a 2013 second-round draft pick, Cleveland decided to roll the dice and select the risky wide receiver in this week's supplemental draft.
Despite the fact that Gordon has the physical makings of an NFL star, he has a history of character issues—and he hasn't played football since 2010—which has prevented a host of other teams from taking a chance on him. But not the Browns.
Gordon was just beginning to emerge as a superstar at Baylor in 2010 when the trouble started. During his sophomore season with the Bears—where he played with No. 2 overall draft pick Robert Griffin III, now a Redskin—Gordon failed a drug test after being caught asleep in a fast-food drive through, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot. He was dismissed from Baylor after his second offense the following June.
Gordon transferred to Utah, where he sat out the 2011 season because of NCAA regulations, before declaring for the supplemental draft last month.
Though his history of failed drug tests certainly makes him a risk, Gordon isn't as big a risk as he might seem. According to Cabot, he's earned glowing recommendations regarding his character and his commitment to staying clean from coaches and assistants at Baylor.
He also completed a drug rehabilitation program while in Utah and never failed a test there, according to Cabot.
Now, he plans to repay the Browns for taking a chance on him by making it count on the field. Gordon told Cabot:
Despite everything I've been through, despite being a kid with a spotty background, the Cleveland Browns stuck their neck out and risked taking me and put their faith and belief in me, and I won't let them down. I'm grateful, and I know I can't go back to being the person I used to be.
For Gordon, the only thing getting in the way of a spectacular pro career is staying clean and staying committed, and by all indications, he's done that. The right attitude—coupled with his speed, his athleticism and his ability to gain yardage after the catch—could turn him into a superstar wide receiver.
Purely based on talent, Gordon certainly would've been worth a selection in any draft. According to Sporting News' Russ Lande, back in 2010, Gordon showed better hands than Kendall Marshall, who was drafted 20th overall out of Baylor in this year's draft. Lande goes so far as to say Gordon is better than both Brian Quick and Stephen Hill, both of whom were second-round selections in the 2012 draft.
When you look at it like that, this move looks great for the Browns. Even if it doesn't work out, a player like Gordon is always worth a shot, especially when you're the Browns and you don't have much else going for you.
In terms of receiving offense, the Browns finished tied for 28th place in the league in 2011. Receivers caught 320 passes for 3,300 yards and just 16 touchdowns. By comparison, the league-leading Packers receivers caught 51, the Saints caught 46 and the Patriots caught 39.
Gordon could end up being a serious weapon for a Browns team that barely has any; this team needs a spark, and Gordon—despite being a risk—could be exactly what the Browns need.
If Gordon lives up to his own words, this could pay off in a huge way for Cleveland.