As we saw a season ago, a lack of quality depth and experience at the wide receiver position can set back an entire offense.
For a handful of holdovers from last year's roster and rookie free agents hoping to make the Browns team roster this summer, a change in the coaching staff provides a new opportunity.
Paul Hubbard, the second-year receiver out of Wisconsin is truly proving to be a project. Long and lean with excellent speed and quickness, Hubbard struggles with lapses in concentration. Hubbard can (and has) excited at times due to his ability to be a down-field presence in practice situations, but must improve his overall skill set. His route-running has to improve and greater consistency in securing the football is a must if he is going to contribute to this team.
Lance Leggett epitomizes what hard work and a great attitude can do for a player. Not one to shy away from a challenge or opportunity to get on the field as a receiver or via special teams, Leggett continues to improve as a young player. Due to the experience gained by working with coaches at the NFL level, Leggett is developing solid receiving skills -- which includes better-than-average route running ability, receiving skills and dependability. Quicker than he is fast, Leggett positions himself between the ball and defender well on most occasions and will fight a defensive back for position.
Jordan Norwood has been effective in his short time with the Browns. A dependable and gritty receiver, Norwood does not display top-end speed, but has sufficient football speed to be a consideration. Norwood has been catching the ball well in OTA and mini-camp sessions coming from the slot. Since arriving in Cleveland, Norwood has impressed the staff with the ability to absorb the necessities at the wide receiver position and stand-out on numerous occasions. With the back end of the depth chart open for competition, this rookie is quickly dispelling the notion he isn't a legitimate prospect.
Syndric Steptoe has been workmanlike in his approach to the game, which is something this Browns coaching staff appreciates and prefers from the personnel. A capable return player on specials, Steptoe was thrust into action a season ago with mixed results. A lack of size, speed and quickness hamper Steptoe's progress to the next level at the professional level.
Devale Ellis has been somewhat of an after-thought when looking at the changes the Browns have made at the receiver position this past off-season. When watching this receiver, though, it is obvious that he possesses deceptive speed and quickness and does not permit the ball to get to his body. The key for Ellis will be his continued development in the weeks leading up to training camp when many players take time away before the grind of the season begins. Ellis has displayed the qualities and intangibles to be an option for the team in a deep-depth and special teams role.