Many fans of the Cleveland Browns went into the 2012 NFL draft assuming their Browns would heavily look to address the situation at wide receiver. Though the Browns drafted Miami Hurricane wide receiver Travis Benjamin in the fourth round, many Browns fans came away feeling very under whelmed by the Browns attempt to upgrade the position. The questions started rolling in. Why won't the Cleveland Browns make the upgrade of the position of wide receiver a priority each offseason? Is the Cleveland Browns front office so arrogant as to think that their system trumps a lack of talent at an entire position? The Cleveland Browns second round selection of Josh Gordon the NFL supplemental draft gave us a resounding answer, the Cleveland Browns front office gets it.
One thing is clear about Cleveland Browns GM Tom Heckert based on his time in Cleveland. When he makes a selection in the draft or a free agent signing it wasn't without doing his homework. Heckert knew of Gordon while scouting former players Phil Taylor and Robert Griffin III. After the supplemental draft was conducted Cleveland media began reporting that the Browns had Gordon in town for interviews. Based on those interviews, and talks he had with coaches like Baylor Head Football coach Art Briles, Heckert gained a comfort level with Josh Gordon the person. While poor decisions cannot be erased, if contrition and evidence of change are present then one cannot blame the Browns taking him. After questions of character were dealt with, it's strictly an issue of talent.
One look at Josh Gordon and it doesn't take a football savant to see what is probably his biggest asset. At 6'3 224 Gordon has the frame and strength to jockey for any ball thrown his way. Despite his size he has excellent speed as he reportedly runs the forty yard dash in the 4.4s. At his predraft workout he ran a 4.52, but many aren't reporting that he pulled a quad muscle during his run. Gordon also has big hands for which he excels at using to pluck the football out of the air. Watching Gordon play there is a smoothness and unique athleticism that sticks out for a receiver of his stature.
Why did no other team offer a second round pick for him if he is so good you might ask? It's a blend of off the field issues that dropped his stock to the degree it did. Gordon following his Sophomore season at Baylor would get kicked off of the team after failing two drug tests. After his departure from Waco, Gordon made his way west to the University of Utah. Josh Gordon never played a game for the Utes however, as he would chose to enter the NFL supplemental draft before he was eligible to play due to NCAA transfer rules.
On the field concerns mostly revolve around Gordon's ability to get off of the line of scrimmage and his ability to run precise routes. No one will question the face that he's a raw talent, and there will be some definite coaching up that will have to occur. In heavy favor of the Browns is that technique and routes are things that can be taught size, speed, and athleticism cannot.
Despite the help the Browns need at the receiver position and knowing they gave up a second round draft pick for Gordon, fans must temper their expectations. Josh Gordon displayed skills in his freshman year at Baylor that lead some to believe that he could have a bright future in the NFL. Front office and coaches alike must be very interested to see how quickly Gordon can pick up the offense and the precise running routes that he will need to be successful in the NFL. All in all if Josh Gordon can contribute somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 catches and 700 yards Browns fans should be very happy. Only time will tell what production and what kind of off the field decisions Josh Gordon will make.
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