The draft’s first WR and picks galore

first WR
Corey Coleman led the nation in receiving TDs last year with 20. The Browns' returning WRs' 2015 total: 3.

With former Baylor WR Josh Gordon still banished, the Browns’ need for a receiver was higher than … well, the joke writes itself, doesn’t it?

So in comes another Bear pass-catcher, the speedy and productive Corey Coleman, with the 15th overall pick obtained after two trades down from the second overall slot.

For that original pick, the Browns netted two third-rounders and a fourth this year, a first and second next year, a second in 2018, and the first wideout off the board tonight. (They did give back a sixth-rounder and a 2017 late fourth in those deals.)

Many observers had Laquon Treadwell of Ole Miss as the top receiver in this draft class, and Hue Jackson’s stated preference for taller receivers makes the 5’11” Coleman’s selection a bit of a surprise. But there’s no doubting his ability to blow the lid of defenses and make plays on the ball downfield. He scored 20 touchdowns last season, winning the Biletnikoff Award for the nation’s best college receiver.

The NFL learning curve is steep for receivers, especially those like Coleman who didn’t run an intricate array of routes in Waco. But the Browns can coach him up and improve things like his catching technique, right? Their new head coach has plenty of experience with receivers, and more importantly, Al Saunders is on hand as the receivers coach, assisted by his son. Is there any coach in the game today with a longer and better track record of developing successful receivers?

Given the depth of their research into WRs (a marked contrast to the previous regime), there’s no reason at this point to question a) whether a receiver was needed or b) whether another receiver would’ve been an obviously better choice. We’ll learn more about Coleman in the coming days, weeks, months, and years, but this is a day to be glad that a position of weakness has been given due priority.

This draft has no superlative receivers or tight ends, no Larry Fitzgeralds or Calvin Johnsons worthy of a top ten pick. So getting their pick of the class at 15, while reaping so many additional picks to address their myriad needs, seems like something of a coup. Three straight receivers were snapped up starting six picks later.

So now the Browns are effectively on the clock, owning the first pick of Friday’s second round. QB Connor Cook is the odds-on favorite, but who knows? The good thing about having so many needs, so many picks, and such low near-term expectations is that you truly can go for the best player available and restock the roster by staying faithful to your analysis and football philosophy. That trio of third-rounders should be an important facet of the next era of Browns football.

Players selected 15th overall since 1999:


Baylor WRs drafted by Browns who were smaller than Coleman:

Browns draft picks 1999-2015 who were the first players selected at their positions