Coming into the 2010 season, we knew the Browns were not exactly deep at the wide receiver position, but we thought the receivers might make enough progress to actually help the Browns out.
Well, that clearly didn’t happen. When your tight end leads the team in receptions – and your running back is second – you know you are not getting production out of the wide receivers.
Now, there is a growing movement that says it takes until their third year for wide receivers to really learn the game and consistently succeed on the field. Trying to compare starters Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie – both second-year players – to the league as a whole probably is a bit unfair. Yes, they are starters who were drafted in the second round, but they are only second-year players.
So we compared them to their peer group – the other 30 second-year receivers who accumulated stats this year – and the numbers still are not pretty.
MoMass was 14th in receptions and yards; Robiskie was 16th in receptions and 18th in yards. Massaquoi was 11th in average yards per catch while Robiskie was 26th – too many of those 5-yard receptions on third-and-six.
Finally, Massaquoi was 14th in touchdown receptions; Robiskie was 11th.
In other words, these guys really weren’t very good and it is hard to see either of them making a big enough leap next year to make the Browns better.
When you look at the numbers from the second-year receivers, it’s easy to see how players such as Hakeem Nicks (Giants), Percy Harvin (Vikings), Jeremy Maclin (Eagles), Austin Collie (Colts), Brandon Tate (Patriots) and Mike Wallace (Steelers) put up solid numbers. It’s not realistic to expect Massaquoi and Robiskie to match anyone from this group.
But what about Brandon Gibson and Danny Amendola from the St. Louis Rams?
Amendola had 85 receptions – tops among second-year players and eighth overall – while Gibson pulled in 53 passes. All while playing with a rookie quarterback in Sam Bradford.
Oh, by the way, Gibson was a sixth-round draft pick while Amendola was an undrafted free agent.
So the excuses are pretty thin when it comes to trying to explain away the lack of production from the Browns starters. Massaquoi and Robiskie both try hard and their blocking skills add value to the running game, but it’s becoming more and more obvious they are not NFL-caliber receivers.
We will give both of them a D on the season.
As for the other receivers, Chansi Stuckey grew on us this year. He’s a decent third-down slot receiver who was second among Browns receivers this year with 40 catches. Josh Cribbs – who really should be a running back not a wide receiver – never got anything going this year, finishing with 23 receptions, only 3 more than last year, but did almost double his receiving yards.
A C for Stuckey and a D for Cribbs feels right.
At tight end, Ben Watson was a great pick-up, leading the team with 68 receptions and 763 yards. Those totals made him the fifth-best tight end in the league in receptions and yards. He was a reliable target for the trio of quarterbacks the Browns used this year.
Robert Royal has hands of stone and Evan Moore can’t stay healthy, so while Watson is a solid starter, at age 30 the Browns need to make sure they have a healthy, viable back-up behind him.
Let’s give Watson an A, Royal an F and Moore an incomplete.
When you look at the entire picture it’s clear the Browns need to upgrade the receiving position next year if they hope to take some of the pressure off the running game and give Colt McCoy someone to work with other than Watson and Peyton Hillis.
Did someone say AJ Green?