Cleveland Browns: Top 10 WRs Cleveland Needs To Target in 2011
Cleveland needs to get Colt McCoy some weapons to throw to. Period.
With the Browns' latest defeat, 24-20 at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars, it was clearly exposed that the Browns have a serious deficiency of talent at the wide receiver spot.
Currently, Cleveland has the 30th-ranked passing attack in the NFL, which currently averages 190.1 yards a game.
What that tells me is that Cleveland has no true No. 1 wide receivers to draw double coverage and open up the field for McCoy to throw downfield.
This dilemma is what will enable teams to stack the box on Browns' do-it-all halfback, Peyton Hillis, who is the team's second leading receiver with 351 yards receiving and is tied for the team lead in touchdowns with two.
Let me put that in perspective: A halfback is your team's second leading receiver behind a tight end. Not good.
Not to sound like I'm repeating or rehashing this topic, but ask any Cleveland Browns fan the one major area that the team needs to improve and build on for 2011. What would that be?
At 3-7, Cleveland has a realistic shot at selecting in the 9-17 range in the 2011 NFL Draft in April, and if I'm Mike Holmgren and Browns GM Tom Heckert, I would personally send a t10-man scouting team down to Athens, Georgia, where maybe the next Browns wideout is currently playing "between the hedges" in Georgia junior wide receiver A.J. Green.
Here are the top 10 wide receivers that Cleveland needs to target in 2011.
No. 1: Georgia Bulldogs WR A.J. Green
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This is the Browns' No. 1 target in the 2011 NFL Draft.
At 6'4" and 212 pounds, Georgia junior wide receiver, A.J. Green is at the top of Browns fans' NFL draft wish lists, the same way that the new Microsoft Xbox Kinect is on every video gamer's mind.
Green may just be out of a video game with his silky smooth and freakish athletic talents. He has shown tremendous ball-catching ability and a great combination of body control and agility.
Quite frankly, he is the complete package and could be the Calvin Johnson-like receiver that the Browns desperately need.
The 22-year-old has accumulated 150 receptions for 23 touchdowns for 2,445 yards in his three-year career for a average of seven touchdowns, 835 yards receiving and 50 receptions per season in the always tough SEC.
No. 2: San Diego Chargers WR Vincent Jackson
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One of the top wide receivers in the NFL, Vincent Jackson could be the No. 1 target for the Browns in free agency.
The 29-year-old Jackson would be a prime target for McCoy to throw the ball to, as he is one of the most legitimate and dangerous wide receivers in the NFL.
Jackson will become a unrestricted free agent after holding out of most of the 2010-11 season over a contract with the always tough San Diego Chargers general manager, A.J. Smith.
Jackson caught 68 passes for 1,167 yards and nine touchdowns last year.
No. 3: Alabama Crimson Tide WR Julio Jones
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Another highly toted SEC junior wideout prospect, Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones may not be as highly regarded as the aforementioned A.J. Green, but Jones is the top receiver and home-run threat for the defending champion Crimson Tide.
At 6'4" and 220, Jones has the same body type and skill set as Green, but one thing that sets him apart is high, long strides in the open field and his ability to get the ball at its highest point.
If Green is option 1A for the Browns in the NFL draft, then Jones is 1B.
For his career, Jones has made 166 receptions for 2,405 yards and 14 touchdowns. Currently, Jones leads the Tide with 65 receptions, 885 yards and six touchdowns.
In case A.J. Green isn't available to take in the upcoming NFL draft, Jones would not be a bad consolation prize.
No. 4: New York Jets WR Santonio Holmes
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How good would it feel to take a marquee player from both the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New York Jets and then have that player stick it to his former team twice a year in the same division?
That is what could happen if the Browns target and land former Ohio State standout and Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes in the offseason.
As much as I admire Pittsburgh for building a cornerstone organization in the NFL, you don't TRADE a Super Bowl MVP wideout for a fifth-round pick. Period.
Holmes could be either a No. 1 or No. 2 receiver in the new Cleveland wide receivers corps and would give McCoy a reliable and clutch target who makes plays after the catch, as evidenced in the Jets' 26-20 OT win over the Browns and 30-27 win over Houston.
In his last three games, Holmes has caught 19 passes for 366 yards and three touchdowns for a average of six receptions, 122 yards receiving and one touchdown.
The 5'11" Holmes would be a serious upgrade in the slot area for the Browns. Can you imagine Holmes in the slot with Mohamed Massaquoi and either Julio Jones or A.J Green? Thought so.
Now that is a very happy thought for the holidays that will keep Browns fans happy well into April.
No. 5: San Diego Chargers WR Malcom Floyd
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The OTHER San Diego wide receiver behind Vincent Jackson and All-World tight end Antonio Gates, Malcom Floyd has emerged as the de facto No. 1 target for Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.
The 6'5" Floyd is second on the Chargers in receiving yards with 513 and touchdowns with two behind the tight end Gates. Floyd is first in yards per catch though, averaging 21.5 yards per game.
What Cleveland truly lacks in the wide receiver spot is height as well as talent, and Floyd would bring both, as he would be a big target for McCoy and would spread the field more offensively for the Browns.
No. 6: Dallas Cowboys WR Miles Austin
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At this point, I'm sure you are all wondering why Miles Austin is in this slideshow when he just signed a six-year contract for $65 million.
The answer is two words: Dez Bryant.
The talented rookie from Oklahoma State has emerged as the Cowboys' new No. 1 wide receiver, as the offense seems to run through Bryant and no longer features Austin as the go-to guy under Jason Garrett. With Jon Kitna taking the snaps instead of Tony Romo, that looks to continue.
I can see a possible trade for Austin before the NFL draft, as both Cleveland and Dallas have a history—maybe the Browns' No. 3 in 2011 plus a conditional pick.
Who knows, but the bottom line is that Austin seems unhappy with the current status quo and would feel more appreciated elsewhere. Cleveland perhaps?
No. 7: Green Bay Packers WR James Jones
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One of the best sleeper wide receivers in free agency, James Jones would be a coup for the Browns.
He also has a connection with Mike Holmgren and his West Coast offense and would start immediately in Cleveland instead of being behind Packer wideouts Greg Jennings, Donald Driver and Jordy Nelson.
At 6'1", Jones could either play out of the slot or as a legitimate No. 2 for the Browns. He is currently second behind Jennings with 30 receptions, 458 yards receiving and three touchdowns.
Jones is not a downgrade from any of the other wide receivers featured in this slideshow, but he would be a borderline Plan B for the Browns in free agency.
No. 8: Pitt Panthers WR Jon Baldwin
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At 6'5" and 230 lbs, the physical and sure-handed Jon Baldwin would be a great addition to the Browns, either in the mid to late first round or in the second round.
Baldwin paces the Big East-leading Pitt Panthers in receiving with 42 catches, 677 yards receiving and five touchdowns.
Even though hands are supposedly an issue for Baldwin, his size, athleticism and ability to make tough catches in traffic would be a huge asset in the AFC North for Cleveland.
No. 9: Notre Dame Fighting Irish WR Michael Floyd
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Tough, physical and capable of making big plays at any moment, Notre Dame junior wideout Michael Floyd should also be on the Browns' wish list for wide receivers.
At 6'3" and a solid 227 lbs., Floyd combines the physical attributes of Jets wideout Braylon Edwards (minus the drops!) with the toughness of Steve Smith of the Carolina Panthers.
Floyd has seemingly adjusted well to the newly installed spread offense that new Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly brought to South Bend from Cincinnati, as Floyd leads the Irish in receiving with 62 receptions, 890 yards receiving and nine touchdowns.
Floyd would be a realistic second-round target for Cleveland if both Georgia's A.J. Green and Alabama's Julio Jones are not available in the first round.
No. 10: Oklahoma Sooners WR Ryan Broyles
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The speedy and light Ryan Broyles out of Oklahoma would be a great fit for the Browns as either a slot-possession receiver or a possible No. 3.
Currently Broyles is third in the country with 1,309 yards receiving and also has 12 touchdowns for the Sooners.
Broyles could also be used as a punt return and kickoff return man for Cleveland.
Look for Broyles to be a possible mid to late first-round target or a high second-round target for Cleveland.
Conclusion: Get Colt Some Weapons. Period.
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In closing, it is really hard for a quarterback in any league to succeed if he has no one to throw to.
After watching Colt McCoy struggle in a 24-20 loss to Jacksonville, it is clear that he needs weapons to throw to to take the next step and become a legit quarterback in the NFL.
If I were Mike Holmgren, I would get McCoy a legit wide receiver in either the NFL draft or in free agency as soon as possible.