Do the Cleveland Browns actually have offensive weapons? Are they a good enough team on offense?
At 2 - 4, fans are not happy with the team's record but seem to see reason for hope long term at the skill position. While the defense has struggled, yesterday they were indeed better, and the offensive line has fallen short of expectations, the offense has been more productive than expected.
This has included some very good play by QB Josh McCown. That play has been inconsistent and mistakes yesterday, both mental and physical, may have cost the Browns the game.
Yet, both now and hopefully for the future, the Browns have weapons to work with on offense.
Take a look at what they have, what they need and what the future might look like at the skilled positions:
Duke Johnson - Johnson has looked like a stellar pickup. He can be an every down back but is best right now as a change of pace back who is great catching the ball out of the backfield. As he gets stronger and learns the NFL better, Johnson could be the next in line of explosive backs in the NFL. His size and injury history are the biggest concerns moving forward.
Robert Turbin - Turbin showed yesterday that he is a powerful back who can, at the least be a great short yardage, goal line back. He provides the Browns with a great 1-2 punch along with Johnson. The Browns need a strong between the tackles runner in the rugged AFC North. He has had some injury concerns and his ball security leaves something to be desired.
Isaiah Crowell - Right now Crowell is the Browns starting running back. What his future becomes is a very big question. He shows talent getting downhill after putting his foot in the ground. This year he has also greatly improved his pass catching ability, noticeable since he rarely was targeted last year. However, he struggles with consistency and may be best as a supportive player to Johnson and Turbin down the road.
Overall - Like every player, the Browns have to be worried about injury but have talent at the running back position. If Johnson, Turbin and Crowell stay healthy, the Browns are set with high level talent at the position over the next few years. They will seek a 4th back as a compliment but likely won't spend a pick in the Top 3 rounds on a back if everyone stays healthy.
Travis Benjamin - The Browns and OC John DeFilippo have found a weapon in Benjamin. The former "kick returner only" has become a versatile threat on the outside. The Rabbit has learned the nuances of getting open deep, taking advantage of the coverage in front of him and making solid catches. He isn't a #1 threat who can run all the routes, specifically over the middle, fade and back shoulder throws, but is a high level #2 in the Browns offense. He is set to be a free agent and could have some difficult negotiations with the Browns after, hopefully, only 1 good, full season at WR.
Andrew Hawkins - Hawk is an elite slot receiver. He may never be a big play guy but he makes things happen for the Browns offense. He can get open against both man and zone defenses. He has solid hands and runs amazing routes. Hawk is signed for a couple more years and provides the team with a consistent threat.
Taylor Gabriel - Gabriel hasn't produced on the field the way many had hoped in his second season. Most of this is related to the development of Benjamin at TG's natural position on the outside. Gabriel has shown a ton of upside and is an amazing versatile talent behind both Benjamin and Hawkins outside and inside. He doesn't have huge size but his routes and hands are very good.
Overall - Dwayne Bowe and, to a lesser extent, Brian Hartline have not been the receivers the team has hoped when they signed them this year. Long term, the Browns are missing that #1 threat who can make all the plays. They have players who combined can do everything, just not all in one body. If they are able, and willing, to get that guy the rest of the group lays out very nicely with Rabbit, Hawk and Gabriel. Even without them, Flip has created a very good passing offense and seems to be proving GM Ray Farmer's beliefs about receivers somewhat accurate.
Gary Barnidge - "Barn-Owl" has been a revelation as a pass catching threat. Statistically he has joined Rob Gronkowski near the top of the league's tight ends. He has scored a TD in the past 4 games. Barnidge had been behind some great tight ends in both Cleveland and Carolina and is now getting his chance. He isn't a high upside athlete to beat people up the seam. He also struggles greatly blocking.
E.J. Bibbs - Bibbs is a favorite of many on Twitter. He hasn't been involved with the team yet after making the roster but does have a lot of upside. He is solidly built and a willing blocker. He also has great hands and underrated athleticism. Bibbs has a lot of development left to do but could be a long term piece for the Browns down the line.
Randall Telfer - Telfer is out for the season but the Browns have some hope for the late round pick. He is a good blocker with good athleticism. His injury history is long but if he can get healthy, could be a solid tight end in rotation.
Overall - Barnidge can also become a free agent after this breakout season. Another tough negotiation after only 1 full good season, hopefully. He is not a good blocker and likely won't get much better. If one of Bibbs or Telfer can become productive, the Browns will be pretty happy. Much like at the WR position, a high end TE who can stretch the field and block would be great but Flip has made Barnidge a big star. Impressive.
What do you think about the Browns offensive weapons, now and for the future?