Jamison Hensley of ESPN is ranking all the position groups in the AFC North and he has decided where they all fall when it comes to receivers. The Cleveland Browns, despite a recent trade for Devone Bess and despite the exit of Anquan Boldin from Baltimore, are last in Hensley’s mind. The Steelers take the top spot and the Bengals with the league’s very best receiver, A.J. Green, finish second.
The Browns feel more comfortable with their receivers after watching what Josh Gordon and Greg Little did last season. But you don’t know if Cleveland’s top two receivers are going to reach their potential this season because they have a combined three seasons of NFL experience. Gordon flashed big-play ability and Little showed signs of developing into a complementary No. 2 target. The Browns have more established depth than the Ravens after trading for Davone Bess and signing David Nelson. Bess will prove valuable on third down. Travis Benjamin provides speed on the outside. This group will be even better next season.
There’s no doubting that the Browns receivers have a lot to prove, but it still seems a little bit odd that the Ravens could be ranked ahead of them without Anquan Boldin. Torrey Smith is a dynamic, young receiver who I definitely think is on an upward career arc, but he’s only entering his third season in the NFL. He’s caught nearly 50 balls in two straight years. He’s covered 841 yards and 855 yards while catching seven and eight TDs. All that being said, he accomplished that playing with Joe Flacco and alongside Anquan Boldin.
We’ll obviously see how it all plays out on the field this year, but Gordon didn’t start the entire season for the Browns and had 50 catches for 805 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie with no established veteran anywhere to be found on the Browns roster. Greg Little added 53 catches for 647 yards and four TDs as he seemed to get over his butter fingers in the second half of the season. The Browns also add Davone Bess who caught 61 balls a year ago for 778 yards from rookie QB Ryan Tannehill.