Browns Depth Chart Review: The Wide Receivers

The Cleveland Browns are a run first team but have invested in bringing in 3 new receivers to the team. We take a look at the Wide Receiver corps in our Depth Chart Review Series.

The NFL really never stops. Between Free Agency, the NFL Draft and all the Organized Team Activities before Training Camp, the cycle keeps spinning. The Cleveland Browns made some moves in Free Agency, added 12 draft picks in the NFL Draft and have had their rookie mini-camp already. That gives us a perfect time to take a look at the team's Depth Chart, position by position, and evaluate where each player stands.

A lot of unknown still stands with the Browns roster. At this time last year we weren't sure about Taylor Gabriel, Isaiah Crowell or K'Waun Williams. Each, in their own way, made an impact on the 2014 Season and are now considered a part of the team's future. The Browns have increased the depth of talent on the roster but value competition over everything else. Can an Undrafted Free Agent make the team again this year? Will a veteran be a surprise cut?

Lots of moving parts as we prepare for Training Camp.

We started out our Browns Depth Chart Series by looking at The Quarterbacks, then we turned our attention to The Running Backs, the focal point of the Browns offense. Today it is time to look at many fans' focal point of the off-season: The Wide Receivers. The Browns were linked to a number in the NFL Draft after signing 2 in Free Agency.

Yet again GM Ray Farmer ignored the position early in the Draft, waiting to address the position until the 4th Round. Lets take a look at the WR Depth Chart that has been the focus of negativity by most this off-season:

Dwayne Bowe

Age

30

Height/Weight

6' 2", 221 pounds

College

LSU

Experience

9 years

2014 Stats

15 Games: 60 catches, 96 targets, 754 yards, 0 TDs, 42 1st Downs, 7 Drops

Estimated Current Depth Chart Position

WR1 - Bowe was brought in to be the Browns #1 receiver in a run first offense. He has the size and body control to play that role.

Strengths

Size, experience and catch radius will all help Bowe be impactful for the Browns this season. All 3 of those should help in the redzone, contested catch situations and if the Browns QBs struggle with accuracy.

Areas of Concerns

Speed and age are the primary concerns for Bowe. He was never the fastest guy and age has seemed to catch up with him as he has aged. Will he be able to threaten teams deep enough to keep safeties honest?

Projected 2015 Depth Chart Position

WR1 - Unlike other positions, at wide receiver this is a little less important. Bowe will be on the field a lot but how he is used is more important than his depth chart role. Same goes for the rest of this group.

Role Expectations

The Browns want Bowe to be a veteran, solid presence on and off the field. Some question his ability to do either. He should be their back shoulder and redzone target pretty often.

Off-season will be a success if...

Stays healthy, doesn't have repeat issues with substances and comes in motivated.

Related Links

Fast Lane: Browns Offensive Makeover - Subscriber

Training Camp Battles

Andrew Hawkins

Age

29

Height/Weight

5' 7", 180 pounds

College

Toledo

Experience

5 years

2014 Stats

15 Games: 63 catches, 113 targets, 824 yards, 2 TDs, 44 1st Downs, 3 Drops

Estimated Current Depth Chart Position

WR2 - Hawkins will be the Browns primary slot receiver but will be the 1st or 2nd read on most pass plays. With his excellent release moves this makes sense.

Strengths

Quickness and Quickness. Hawkins is talented in other ways but his quickness is a part of everything he does. His release moves get him open often. That he was targeted so much last year, 113 times, says the Browns wanted to get him involved. Accuracy led to only 63 catches with only 3 drops.

Areas of Concerns

Size/Health. At his size, Hawkins can get hurt as we saw some last year. He does a good job of protecting himself but with all the underneath routes he runs, he can get crushed often.

Projected 2015 Depth Chart Position

WR2 - Barring injury, Hawkins will be on the field a lot this year again.

Role Expectations

Hawkins on the field role is to be open, a lot, get first downs and move the chains. Off the field he sets the tone of work ethic for the group, and does a great job at it.

Off-season will be a success if...

Comes in stronger without sacrificing quickness.

Related Links

Amazing Hawkins Release Moves on YouTube

Former CFL Star Claimed

Brian Hartline

Age

28

Height/Weight

6' 2", 200 pounds

College

THE Ohio State

Experience

7 years

2014 Stats

16 Games: 39 catches, 63 targets, 474 yards, 2 TDs, 27 1st Downs, 4 Drops

Estimated Current Depth Chart Position

WR3 - Hartline returns home hoping to return to his 2 previous seasons' production of over 1,000 yards. The Dolphins changed offensive systems last year and a return to the West Coast Passing Offense should help.

Strengths

Route Running and Stability. Hartline has been successful based on his consistency as a route runner and being where he is expected to be. QBs can count on him.

Areas of Concerns

Dynamic ability. Hartline will not wow you with his dynamic ability. He gets open with his route running but is not a threat for long plays often.

Projected 2015 Depth Chart Position

WR4 - Based on his lack of dynamic skills, Hartline could see less field time than two other WRs that are slotted below him currently. Not a knock on him. His size and experience will be very valuable.

Role Expectations

Hartline needs to get 1st Downs and show that his drop off was system related last year. He should help lead as a veteran addition like fellow Buckeye Donte Whitner did last year.

Off-season will be a success if...

Signs of quickness, solid hands and positive attitude are all apparent.

Related Links

Hartline Comes Home

Everyone Loves Hartline

Taylor Gabriel

Age

24

Height/Weight

5' 8", 167 pounds

College

Abilene Christian

Experience

1 year

2014 Stats

16 Games: 36 catches, 71 targets, 621 yards, 1 TD, 26 1st Downs, 2 Drops

Estimated Current Depth Chart Position

WR4 - Gabriel may not get fan/media respect but he is an important part of the Browns present and future.

Strengths

Speed, route running and hands. While Gabriel compares to Hawkins in size, they play different positions. Gabriel is a better outside receiver, even though he is good in the slot. Gabriel provides the over the top speed for the offense.

Areas of Concerns

Size, contested balls. A small outside receiver is not the norm in the NFL. That doesn't mean he can't be successful, it will just be in different ways.

Projected 2015 Depth Chart Position

WR3 - Gabriel is a breakout star candidate. With his deep speed, route running and hands he could see the field a ton. With his speed on one side and Bowe's size and Hawkins underneath routes on the other, the Browns 3 wide sets would be dangerous.

Role Expectations

Gabriel is the most dynamic player in their WR corps. He could also be their best kick returner but others are likely to get that role.

Off-season will be a success if...

Gabriel is healthy, physically gets stronger and grabs hold of a big role in the offense.

Related Links

2014 Speed Events - Gabriel Impressive

Fantasy Production for Gabriel

Vince Mayle

Age

24

Height/Weight

6' 2", 224 pounds

College

Washington State

Experience

Rookie

2014 Stats

College: 106 catches, 1483 yards, 9 TDs

Estimated Current Depth Chart Position

WR5 - Mayle is the Browns long term developmental prospect who could have some impact later in the season and should make the team based on his upside.

Strengths

Size and ability to win over the top. Mayle doesn't have great timed speed but was always able to create separation. He has a lot to learn at the position but many believe he will be able to.

Areas of Concerns

Experience and hands. Some believe his high drop number was due to the high number of throws thrown his way, fair. His limited experience at the position means he has a lot of nuance to learn. Bowe, Hawkins and Hartline should be able to help with that.

Projected 2015 Depth Chart Position

WR5 - Mayle could surprise and push Hartline for time on the field. Unlikely. He also could be inactive for most/all of the season as he tries to develop at the NFL level.

Role Expectations

Listen and learn with the occasional impact on the field when needed.

Off-season will be a success if...

Mayle gets his thumb healthy and shows a grasp on NFL level concepts by the end of Training Camp.

Related Links

Where Mayle, Rookies Fit

Mayle to Have Surgery

Travis Benjamin

Age

25

Height/Weight

5' 10", 175 pounds

College

Miami

Experience

4 years

2014 Stats

16 Games: 18 cathces, 46 targets, 314 yards, 3 TDs, 14 1st Downs, 3 drops

Estimated Current Depth Chart Position

WR6 - The Browns have been talking The Rabbit up as their returner. His special teams production will likely be key to him making the team as he has been limited on offense and the Browns have added 3 receivers above him.

Strengths

Straight line speed. Benjamin can move quickly straight ahead. Stopping and starting, like Hawkins, is not there but he can move. His hands have shown gradual improvement as well.

Areas of Concerns

Overall development as a receiver, ala Josh Cribbs, has not been what the Browns may have hoped. He had the yips as a returner as well last year, can he mentally recover?

Projected 2015 Depth Chart Position

Cut - Benjamin could easily make the roster if his return skills return. If not he will quickly be replaced as the Browns only kept 5 or 6 receivers all of last year, mostly 5.

Role Expectations

Returner with some time on the field for the offense.

Off-season will be a success if...

Catches kicks and returns with same reckless abandon he had before last season.

Related Links

2014 - Browns Sticking with Rabbit

College: Benjamin Q&A - Subscriber

Marlon Moore

Age

27

Height/Weight

6', 190 pounds

College

Fresno State

Experience

6 years

2014 Stats

13 Games: 0 offensive stats. 13 KRs, 322 yards, 9 ST tackles, 1 FF and 1 FR

Estimated Current Depth Chart Position

WR6 - Moore will be in competition with Benjamin for the last position. His play last year was limited to special teams, both as a returner and a coverage player.

Strengths

Straight speed and as a gunner. Moore is a poor man's Josh Cribbs in that he both returns and plays gunner on special teams. An important role.

Areas of Concerns

Top level skills. 19 total catches in his career. No return touchdowns.

Projected 2015 Depth Chart Position

Cut - Either Moore or Benjamin could make the team but the odds are that the Browns go with 5 receivers and fill in their special teams needs with other players.

Role Expectations

Return man and special teams gunner extreme.

Off-season will be a success if...

Moore shows that he is not replaceable on special teams, enough so that he makes the squad.

Related Links

ST Coach Talks Moore, Others

College: Moore Talks to Scout.com

Other Receivers on Roster

Rodney Smith, Paul Browning, Kevin Cone and Darius Jennings.

What are your thoughts on the Browns WR Depth Chart this off-season?


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