On paper, the Cleveland Browns have one of the most talented groups of pass catchers in the entire league. It has been an extremely long journey to get to this point however, as Browns fans can now look upon the past days of Brian Robiskie, Dwayne Bowe and and Corey Coleman along with many other misfits at the position and laugh. The attitude began to change at the position when Cleveland acquired Jarvis Landry from the Miami Dolphins during the 2018 offseason. This was an aggressive move by former general manager John Dorsey that continues to pay dividends to this day as Landry is still one of the upper echelon possession receivers in the league.
Odell Beckham Jr.
While Landry has been the ultimate safety valve for Baker Mayfield, Cleveland’s receivers room took a monumental leap in talent with the acquisition of Odell Beckham Jr. from the New York Giants in 2019. While Beckham has not played his best football with the Browns due to injuries, he remains a headache for opposing secondaries due to his game-breaking speed and athleticism. Beckham is on time with his rehabilitation from a torn ACL suffered against the Bengals last year, and should be healthy for the start of the regular season. A healthy Beckham would give Mayfield a lethal deep threat option, something the team missed on a consistent basis after the star wideout went down with an injury.
In addition to the star studded cast of Landry and Beckham, Cleveland also has a few younger receivers who have made significant contributions. Rashard Higgins for example, has seen it all during his tenure with the Cleveland Browns. Drafted in 2016, Higgins has played for numerous head coaches and general managers in his time with the team. He has also proved his worth time and time again developing an instant rapport with Mayfield as soon as he took over as quarterback. The man known as “Hollywood” Higgins has become a fan favorite in Cleveland due to his toughness and supreme catching ability even on contested plays. The Browns have had the opportunity to move on from Higgins on two separate occasions, but decided to re-sign the wideout both times.
Donovan Peoples-Jones came into the University of Michigan as a highly touted five star recruit out of Detroit. Due to an ongoing disastrous quarterback situation at Michigan during his tenure, Peoples-Jones was never used to his full potential, therefore forcing his draft stock to plummet. Cleveland selected the former Wolverine with their sixth round draft selection, a move that was met with praise from analysts and experts. Peoples-Jones began the season on the inactive list, but quickly found his way on the field as a punt returner. When Beckham went down with an injury, Peoples-Jones’ role increased significantly. In fact, the rookie wideout caught a game winning touchdown pass in the final seconds from Baker Mayfield in the same game in which Beckham got hurt. Peoples-Jones caught fourteen passes for 304 receiving yards, showing he has the potential to be another deep threat for Mayfield.
The Cleveland wide receiver room comes into 2021 with a new secret weapon; rookie Anthony Schwartz out of Auburn. While there might not be many chances for Schwartz early in the season, the former Tiger possesses elite speed, coming from a track and field background. Schwartz ran a 4.25 40 yard dash at the NFL combine, which was good enough for best of all wide receivers at the event.
With the season fast approaching and rumors of a Beckham trade put to bed, Cleveland’s wide receiver room will be looked upon as one of the hardest for opposing defenses to prepare for and cover. This group will only complement the run game even better, as the presence of Beckham and Schwartz will bring elite level speed, something that was missing during Cleveland’s playoff run in 2020.