Though his focus will likely be turning to who the Cleveland Browns will be drafting come this spring, two members of the current team make ESPN draftnik Mel Kiper’s list of potential breakout players for 2013 — wide receiver Josh Gordon and defensive tackle John Hughes.
Technically, he shouldn’t be here, as he was one of the top rookie WRs overall. But it wasn’t until Nov. 18 that he caught four passes in a game. He had rust to work off, and after a 50-catch rookie season, he could be a 1,000-yard guy for years to come with plenty of big plays as part of his repertoire.
And on Hughes:
Billy Winn was the story early on for the Cleveland D-line, filling in for the injured Phil Taylor. But it was Hughes who played really well in the second half. If he has a great camp, he could start next to Taylor on the D-line in Week 1 next season.
While the likelihood of Hughes usurping Athyba Rubin as the starting tackle remains low, it’s refreshing that the two players listed were two of the biggest question marks heading into 2012. Gordon will technically be this year’s second-round selection, so the added benefit of having an NFL season under his belt cannot be overstated. Hughes was universally panned by those with the desire to instantly grade a draft, but if he can prove to build off of his second half, Tom Heckert will be able to add yet another rough-rooted diamond to his résumé.
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