Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Are the Browns hunting Cougars?

We all know the Cleveland Browns have several holes to fill on the roster in the upcoming NFL Draft: right tackle, wide receiver, linebacker, running back.

And, of course, quarterback.

While all the quarterback talk has revolved around Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden, there is one name that is rarely mentioned as a possibility to fill the void under center.

We’re talking, of course, about record-setting quarterback Case Keenum, who threw for 19,217 yards, 155 touchdowns and completed 69 percent of his passes in his career as Houston’s quarterback.

Now that we have your attention, and you’ve picked yourself up off the floor, we are in no way advocating that the Browns draft Keenum. System guys like Keenum don’t fit in the NFL, just look at Colt Brennan’s career if you forgot that fact.

But the thing is, Keenum wasn’t out there on offense all by himself. Someone had to be catching all those passes.

And that’s where the Browns come in as they need all the playmakers they can find on offense.

The Cougars have a trio of senior wide receivers that put up big numbers in 2011

  • Patrick Edwards, with 89 receptions for 1,752 yards and 20 touchdowns
  • Tyron Carrier, with 96 receptions for 958 yards and five touchdowns
  • Justin Johnson, with 87 receptions for 1,229 yards and 12 touchdowns

We wouldn’t want the Browns to use a first- or second-round pick on one of these guys, not with Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd and Kendall Wright potentially available, but Edwards, Carrier and Johnson clearly can catch the ball when it’s thrown to them.

The guy that intrigues us the most is Johnson. At 6-foot-1 and 223 pounds, he has NFL size, comparable to current Browns wide receiver Greg Little and Notre Dame’s Floyd, who are both listed as 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds.

“He can block, run, catch,” Carrier told The Houston Chronicle in an article last September. “Whatever you want him to do, he can do it.”

Johnson was a Conference USA First Team selection this past season after earning the starting slot as one of the Cougars’ inside receivers. He is also versatile, as he saw action at wide receiver, tight end and in the backfield during his college career.

“I knew if I kept working hard, I would get my chance,” Johnson told the paper. “We have playmakers. I was fine if I could block for Bryce (Beall) or Tyron or Patrick. As long as we were winning, I was fine.”

He also lit up Penn State in the Ticket City Bowl, catching 12 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown.

Sounds like someone we wouldn’t mind the Browns at least taking a look at. And it turns out that the Browns had scouts at Houston’s Pro Day on Monday.

The scouts also had a chance to see running back Michael Hayes, who rushed for 727 yards and 11 touchdowns on 138 carries and caught 44 passes for 483 yards last season. According to The Daily Cougar, Hayes is projected to be a late-round pick.

While we’ve all been focused on the Browns first three picks, and rightfully so, the team needs to hit on its later picks as well to continue turning this thing around.

Johnson, and possibly Hayes, are two names to keep in mind once the draft hits the later rounds.

(Photo by Getty Images)

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