Cleveland Browns: Top 10 Sleeper WRs Cleveland Needs To Target in 2011
With the Browns wide receiver woes such a hot topic here on Bleacher Report, I have decided to delve deeper into the promising talent pool of wide receivers I feel that Cleveland might target in the 2011 off-season and draft.
This group of wide receivers is not as renowned as Georgia's A.J Green, Alabama's Julio Jones, the San Diego Charger's Vincent Jackson or even Santonio Holmes of the New York Jets, but the receivers that will be featured in this slide show could be on the Browns radar but not on the most die-hard Brownie's GPS.
Without further adieu, here is Part Two of my Wide Receiver feature. Enjoy.
#1: Arizona Cardinals WR's Early Doucet And Steve Breaston
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The underrated but terrific duo of Arizona Cardinal wide receivers, Steve Breaston(left) and Early Doucet(right), could possibly be the Browns Plan B #1 targets if none of the high-profile receivers mentioned in my first column, Cleveland Browns: Top 10 WR's That The Browns Must Target in 2011, are available.
Breaston, 27, is a former fifth-round draft pick out of Michigan who had a breakout year in 2008 with 1,008 yards after filling in for starter, Anquan Boldin.
Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald and Breaston would go on to become the fifth trio in NFL history to have 1,000 yards each.
Breaston is currently second on the Cardinals in receiving with 593 yards and one touchdown on 34 receptions.
It is widely assumed that the Cardinals look to give Steve Breaston a new deal at the end of this season as he has stepped up his play and solidified the #2 spot in Arizona.
The other cardinal receiver, Early Doucet, 25, formerly of LSU, could be the Brown's fall-back option if Breaston re-signs with the Cardinals.
Doucet could be the odd man out in Arizona despite being third on the Cardinals in receiving with 195 yards and one touchdown.
Look for Doucet to be the Brown's Plan B #1 target in free agency.
#2: San Diego Chargers WR Legedu Naanee
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Currently the #3 receiver in San Diego behind Patrick Crayton and Malcom Floyd, the Nigerian-born former Boise State Bronco, and current San Diego Chargers WR, Legedu Naanee could be a intriguing sleeper target for Cleveland.
Nannee, a former quarterback in high school in the Portland, Oregon area, was converted to wide receiver while at Boise State due to Jared Zabransky winning the spot, so Nannee could add an extra dimension to Cleveland as well.
At 6'2" and 220 lbs, Naanee has both the speed, physicality and athleticism to handle the rugged AFC North and could be looking elsewhere for a chance to shine, especially with the return of Pro Bowl wide receiver Vincent Jackson.
Currently, Naanee has missed the last five games for San Diego due to a hamstring, thus only catching one touchdown and having only 188 yards receiving.
#3: Miami Dolphins WR Davone Bess
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One of the best possession and clutch wide receivers in the game, the very underrated and undrafted free agent from Hawai'i, Davone Bess would be an absolute coup for Cleveland.
Bess did sign a two-year contract extension with the Dolphins in October and would most likely be acquired via trade and at the young age of just 25 The 5'10, 195 pound Bess could play either in the slot or even a #2 and give McCoy a valuable possession receiver who can make plays after the catch or convert a tough first down.
Those who are familiar with Bess also know that he is a PPR (points per reception) vacuum in fantasy football leagues as he is consistently looms near the top of the league's reception list.
Currently, Bess leads the Dolphins in touchdowns with three and is second in catches with 49. If Cleveland was able to land him from Miami, then the Browns would have acquired a major piece to the fractured puzzle that is wide receiver in Cleveland.
#4: Oakland Raiders WR Johnnie Lee HIggins
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A former third-round pick by the Oakland Raiders, receiver and return specialist Johnnie Lee Higgins could be another possible target for Cleveland due to his versatility in the return game and at wide receiver.
Currently, Higgins is eighth on the Raiders with 103 yards receiving. Higgins could be targeted to add depth to special teams.
#5: Houston Texans WR; Jacoby Jones
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Another second-tier wide receiver and return specialist, Houston Texans wide receiver Jacoby Jones could be a possible Plan B or even C for the Browns in free agency.
Jones, 27, is currently behind Texans All-Pro wideout, Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter in yards and receiving. Jones could also possibly add depth to the revamped 2011 Cleveland wide receiver unit.
Jones currently has 25 catches for 242 yards receiving and one touchdown. Jones is a possible fringe starter at best.
#6: Miami Hurricanes WR; Leonard Hankerson
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A four-year starter for the Miami Hurricanes, Hurricanes WR Leonard Hankerson is possibly the second-best sleeper prospect in the 2011 NFL Draft after Oklahoma WR Ryan Broyles.
Hankerson is widely considered to be a mid-to-late first round pick or even a high second round pick as he has both the height at 6'3," and physical build of 220 lbs to handle the speed of the NFL.
Hankerson currently leads the Hurricanes with 12 touchdowns and 958 yards receiving. As a true freshman in 2007, Hankerson started two of seven games, and had six receptions for 63 yards and a touchdown.
As a sophomore in 2008 he started two of eight games, making 11 receptions for 140 yards and two touchdowns. As a junior in 2009, he became a full-time starter.
Hankerson started 12 of 13 games and finished the season with 45 receptions for 801 yards and six touchdowns.
Look for Hankerson to be Cleveland's Plan B option along with Pitt's Jon Baldwin and Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles if A.J Green and Julio Jones are already off the board in April.
#7 : Ohio State Buckeyes WR Dane Sanzenbacher
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The primary receiver for All-American QB Terrelle Pryor on The Ohio State Buckeyes, Buckeyes WR, Dane Sanzenbacher looks to be a possible third-to-fifth round target for the Cleveland Browns.
A four-year starter for the scarlet and gray, Sanzenbacher had 21 yards receiving his freshman year, 272 his sophomore year, 570 his junior year and currently has 818 and nine touchdowns.
Sanzenbacher would project to be a Wes Welker-type slot-posession receiver in the NFL and would become McCoy's go-to guy if he was drafted by Cleveland.
#8: Western Michigan Broncos WR Jordan White
A solid 6'1" and 220 lb Cleveland native, Jordan White has been terrorizing MAC defenses for the last three years.
Currently, White leads the Western Michigan Broncos in receiving with 1,268 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns.
Very under the radar, White could help the Browns with his ability to block on run plays and catch in tight spots. For his career, White has 159 catches for 2,169 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Look for White to be a possible third-to-fifth round target of Cleveland.
#9: Hawai'i Warriors WR Greg Salas
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Currently the second leading receiver in the nation after Oklahoma State Cowboys wide receiver, Justin Blackmon, Hawai'i Warriors WR Greg Salas could be playing on Sundays.
At 6'2" and 210 lbs, he has very good body control and route-running as he has racked up a impressive 91 reception, 1,390 yards and nine touchdown in his senior year.
Now some might say that those numbers are against inferior competition, but in a 49-36 loss to USC, he caught nine passes for a impressive 146 yards.
For his three year career Salas has caught 257 passes for 3,846 yards and 21 touchdowns.
He could be on Cleveland's draft board in the third-to-fifth round.
#10: San Diego State Aztecs WR DeMarco Sampson
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A very physically gifted and athletic wide receiver at 6'2" and 220 lbs, San Diego State Aztecs WR DeMarco Sampson has the tools that the Browns may be looking for to revamp and re-arm their wide receiver corps in Cleveland.
Sampson, 22, leads the Aztecs passing attack with 59 catches for 1,046 yards receiving and six touchdowns. For his three-year career he has caught 138 catches for 2,069 yards and 16 touchdowns.
If Sampson is on the board late, don't be surprised if the Browns take a flier on him.
Conclusion: The Wide Receiver Postion Needs Be a Top Priority in The Off-Season
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To conclude my 2011 Browns Wide Receiver Target slide-show column, it doesn't make a difference who is under center, whether it is Colt McCoy, Seneca Wallace or even Jake Delhomme—the receivers the Browns currently have can't get separation, drop balls or are not on the same page with the quarterback. This means the offense will eventually stall and break down.
The Cleveland Browns have various glaring holes in the defense, most notably on the defensive end and linebacker positions, but if I'm the Browns I either get a top-tier wide receiver in free agency or in the draft and then build the defense, as was the point of Part One.
Or build the defense first and draft a sleeper wide out or sign one in free agency as Part 2 alludes too. Either way, if Cleveland is to take the next step and challenge in the AFC North.
McCoy is going to need some help and some play-makers on the edge to make the Browns a truly dangerous team to be reckoned with in 2011.