Throughout the OTA's, mini-camp and finally training camp, Lane Adkins has kept a close eye on the WR position. In this case, Lane discusses what each does well and what they don't.
Whether it is solid receiving skills or a lack of precision fundamentals, this is how we see it:
- Braylon Edwards has come a very long way since arriving from the University of Michigan for the 2005 season. Now, Edwards is significantly stronger and quicker off the line. His route running has improved, but the veteran receiver still tends to round-off routes. Due to his athleticism and physical stature, Edwards can get away with being less than an exceptional route runner. The veteran WR does a solid job in sealing off the defensive back and selling his route. While not known as a top-end speed-type WR, Edwards' speed is better than advertised due to extensive training. Quickness and hand strength are his greatest attributes, as this WR has large hands and excellent hand/eye coordination. The only legitimate knock against Edwards is his periodic lack of concentration, which leads to drops of relatively easy passes, mainly those thrown below the waist. All in all, Edwards is a fearless receiver, he will cross the middle and engage in the blocking scheme when necessary.
- Donte Stallworth comes to Cleveland with a reputation of having the ability to make big-plays and suffer with lingering injuries. In training camp we have viewed the big-play ability of Stallworth, as he and QB Derek Anderson are growing close, which has led to many vertical completions in the camp setting. Stallworth reported to camp with a hamstring strain and was on the field practicing at full-speed after missing a handful of sessions. What we have noticed with Stallworth is he is professional, he runs very good routes, uses his body to seal off the defender and extends for the ball. This veteran WR possesses the ability to accelerate through a cut and find the ball in flight at the last moment. Stallworth's initial burst tends to offset larger, physical type DB's jamming him at the line of scrimmage. In the camp setting, Stallworth has displayed the explosive qualities this organization envisioned when signing him during the off-season.
- Travis Wilson has been taking advantage of his opportunities since the OTA's and has not looked back. This third-year WR has shown the ability to run better-than-average routes, with a propensity to make the difficult reception appear simple. Despite his improvement, Wilson has plenty of work to do to become a presence, much less a threat, at the professional level. The WR must play within himself and his talent level, as on numerous occasions Wilson has lost his plant foot, causing the WR to either fall or slip and limiting yards after reception, or in the worst case, a turnover. This WR is learning to better use his hands to get off the line of scrimmage, but has adequate initial quickness to beat a CB off the point. Far too often, Wilson permits the CB to get to his body off the line and in the route, which leads to Wilson being a step slow or not as precise as the pattern would indicate. Wilson is in the mode of trying to improve his play, impress the coaching staff and gain the trust of his teammates.
- Syndric Steptoe could ultimately be a surprise for the Browns in the 2008 season. When lined-up with the others WR's in training camp, Steptoe is the smallest player at the position. A seventh-round pick of the team in the 2007 draft, Steptoe was released by the club and signed to the practice squad following training camp. Steptoe is a developing talent who is showing solid skills that have become increasingly evident with the time the WR has spent on the field with the first and second team offensive units. Drafted to be a potential complement in the special teams facet of the game, Steptoe has refined his receiving skills while a member of the practice squad. Small in stature (5"8"), Steptoe relies on quickness in the passing game. Matched in the slot, this WR is smooth beating coverage underneath, mainly between the hashmarks is where he is most effective. At times Steptoe permits the ball to get in on him, as he occasionally is late getting extended to make the reception. His overall speed is average, his routes may be as clean as any player on the roster and his stature helps his generate a lower center than any other receiver in camp. The short to intermediate game is where Steptoe has the ability to excel due to a lack of top-end speed.
- Kevin Kasper came to Cleveland and made an immediate impression on the staff. The veteran WR works hard, studies diligently and spent a significant portion of the off-season getting prepared for training camp. While Kasper has been well-traveled, he displayed talent to the Cleveland staff in the OTA's and in mini-camp. Heading into training camp, the veteran could have been considered a front-runner to make the opening day roster. A hamstring injury has put the brakes on what was a promising start of the roster season for Kasper. In the slot, Kasper shows to be a fairly precise route runner that has the speed and quickness to beat the opposing DB off the ball. Could be quicker in and out of his cuts and does an average job of selling a route. Kasper gets his head around quickly and finds the ball in flight well. Lean and physically strong, Kasper displays the ability to work through a physical CB, which was not the case earlier in his career. In the camp setting, Kasper was quick with his hands and reliable.
Look for Part II of the wide receivers breakdown, coming soon to a computer monitor near you...
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