BEREA—The Browns receiving corps of 2009 struck little fear in opponents’ eyes, especially after the trading of Braylon Edwards to the Jets.
Surely, the Browns would make it a priority to upgrade the position in 2010. But free agency came and went. The draft came and went and the Browns made very few changes at the position.
They signed no unrestricted free agent wide receivers and didn’t draft a receiver until Carlton Mitchell was taken in the sixth-round.
Despite constant prodding by fans and the media regarding the position, the Browns went through OTAs and minicamps without adding a veteran receiver. They still might add a veteran before or during training camp, but it appears, at least for now, the Browns are going with what they have.
Here is a breakdown of the receivers as the Browns head to training camp:
Mohamed Massaquoi—In just his second year, Massaquoi tied for the team lead in 2009 with 34 receptions for 624 yards and three touchdowns. He had an impressive 18.4 yards per reception average. The Browns are counting upon Massaquoi to continue his development and grow into being the No. 1 receiver. Massaquoi’s best game was on Oct. 4 against the Bengals when he broke out with eight receptions for 148 yards. Edwards was still with the Browns and much of Massaquoi’s success in that game was attributed to Edwards getting double-teamed most of the game.
Chansi Stuckey—After coming over in the Edwards trade, Stuckey never really was able to get into a groove. He had 19 receptions for 198 yards and a touchdown with the Browns. Overall, he had 30 catches for 318 yards with two touchdowns. Stuckey is being counted upon to be the slot receiver. Stuckey’s best season in the NFL was his second with the Jets in 2008 when he had 32 receptions for 359 yards and three touchdowns.
Joshua Cribbs—The do-it-all converted receiver caught 20 passes for 135 yards and one touchdown in 2009. Cribbs is used in so many formations that it is hard to count on him to be a full-time receiver. Cribbs had five receptions for 22 yards in the second game of the season against the Broncos. After that, he wasn’t used much in the passing game.
Brian Robiskie—After a very disappointing rookie season, Robiskie is the key to the 2010 Browns’ receiving corps. His play in the off-season programs has been very impressive, but it has to translate to live situations. Robiskie had just seven receptions for 106 yards and no touchdowns in his first year. Robiskie is being counted upon to be the No. 2 receiver, in order for the Browns to be able to move the ball in the air. Robiskie had four of his seven catches against the Chargers for 69 yards. Last year, he was inactive in five games and was pretty much non-existent for the 36th overall draft choice.
Syndric Steptoe—The diminuitive receiver drafted in the seventh-round of the 2007 draft spent the 2009 season on injured reserve. He has been able to hang with the Browns for over three years without much production.
Jake Allen—Allen has a long, lean frame (6-4, 196) that the Browns brought in last year after the Packers released him. He was active for one game with the Packers out of Mississippi College and then for two games with the Browns. He didn’t catch any passes, but was activated over Robiskie at Cincinnati.
Carlton Mitchell—Described as a big, raw, physical specimen the Browns took in the sixth-round from South Florida. The 6-3, 215 pounder could see the field in 2010 if he is able to grasp the Browns offense quickly. Has the ability to stretch the field with good speed.
Johnathan Haggerty— Haggerty (6-1, 195) is an undrafted free agent from SW Oklahoma State. He caught the coach’s eyes in the OTAs and minicamp showing nice hands and good route running ability. Has a chance to stick with the practice squad, if he doesn’t make the 53-man roster.
The Browns chose to let veteran Mike Furrey leave as an unrestricted free agent after having 23 receptions. The Browns are counting on the second-year receivers to play big roles in 2010. Massaquoi showed enough in 2009 that he can play. The bigger question is will Robiskie be able to continue the progression he displayed in the off-season programs.
Stuckey and Cribbs figure to be in the top four set of receivers and either Steptoe, Allen, Mitchell or Haggerty would be the fifth receiver.
For the Browns to have any chance to move the ball through the air, both Massaquoi and Robiskie will need to continue their improvement. If not, it could be a long season for the Browns offensively.
(Next we will take a look at the tight ends)