CLEVELAND, OH – The Cleveland Browns have been busy this offseason with free agent signings to bulk up their defense. This was seen as one of the biggest issues from last season that they needed to address. They started by signing Jim Schwartz as their new DC. In the offseason they have signed numerous defensive players including Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and Juan Thornhill. However, there seems to be a glaring need that has yet to be addressed. The wide receiver position.
Wide Receiver Fits: Free Agent Edition
Mecole Hardman – Last year with the Kansas City Chiefs, Hardman missed time from early November all the way until the AFC Championship Game. Despite missing so much time, Hardman has not had much of an injury history throughout his young career. Mecole fits the Browns due to his blazing speed and ability to shake defenders in the open field. With the loss of Jakeem Grant and the lack of progress from Anthony Schwartz last season, the Browns missed that key downfield weapon. Hardman would be able to fit that missing piece of the Browns receiving core.
Odell Beckham Jr. – Yes, I said it, Odell Beckham Jr would be a good fit for the Cleveland Browns’ offense. We went down the road already with OBJ when Baker Mayfield was the quarterback and OBJ was the number one option. That would not be the case this season. With the addition of Amari Cooper last season, he would retain his spot as the number one target. Although Beckham has not played since the Super Bowl in 2022, his production as the 2nd or 3rd option would still be good as we saw with the Rams in the back end of the 2021-2022 season. Beckham would be a good fit to go alongside Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones to solidify the WR core.
Wide Receiver Fits: Trade and Draft Edition
DeAndre Hopkins – The most obvious and most talked about receiver this offseason would be a great fit with the Browns. Hopkins played with Deshaun Watson in Houston for many years, and they had great chemistry. Bringing in a guy that would compete for the WR1 position would bring out more from the other receivers in the room. DeAndre has incredible route-running skills and catch-in-traffic ability. Bringing in a guy like him that already has great chemistry would do wonders for the offense as a whole.
Jalin Hyatt – Last year with the University of Tennessee, Hyatt had a breakout season. This landed him the Fred Biletnikoff award for the best wide receiver in college football. Hyatt ran a 4.41 40-yard dash at the NFL combine putting him near the top of the list of wide receivers for speed. Coming into the NFL, Hyatt could quickly mark himself as a clear WR2 on nearly any roster. Hyatt also brings a quick first-step off the line of scrimmage which would make it difficult for defenses to play press-coverage against him.
Josh Downs – Last year with the North Carolina Tar Heels, Downs hauled in 94 catches for over 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns. While he does not have the massive upside of a Jalin Hyatt, Downs could be used as a WR3 in his first year behind Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones. Downs has speed like Hyatt that could cause problems for defenses downfield. His leaping ability combined with his speed gives him big-play potential. He wreaked havoc in the red-zone last year as well with the post-fade route in the endzone. Downs would be more of a project pick that would take some time to reach his full potential but could really be a big piece for the Browns offense for years to come.
The Browns’ final position they really need to key in on this offseason is the wide receiver position. Here is my wish list for who I would most want the Browns to pick up:
DeAndre Hopkins – Via trade
Mecole Hardman – Free agency signing
Josh Downs – Draft
In this year’s upcoming draft, there is an open possibility that the Browns could trade up if there is a guy they really want like Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Unfortunately, I do not believe it is realistic for that to happen given the depth of the wide receiver position in this draft class. Some still believe the Browns will be fine at wide receiver with no additions this offseason. I beg to differ given their lack of a downfield threat that can consistently produce.
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