Monday, July 11, 2005

Browns Position Preview #3: Wide Receiver and Tight End

(Editor's Note: Blah blah AllSportsOhio. Link here blah blah.)

Wide Receiver

86 Dennis Northcutt
2004 (Cleveland)16115580650.42
Career (5 years)7032212276939.69
Injuries and other moves made Dennis Northcutt the Browns' number one option in 2004. He led the team with 55 receptions; the year before, he caught 62 passes. More of an open-field threat than a pure route-runner, Northcutt has also averaged 8 rushes per season over his career. And, of course, he is known as one of the league's best punt returners. Northcutt's 12.0 yard punt return average in 2004 was the second best of his career. His best average came in 2002 at 14.7 yards per, when he also scored the only two punt return touchdowns of his career. With a detail-minded coach like Romeo Crennel, look for an improved special teams unit to help Northcutt find the end zone on a punt once again.

17 Braylon Edwards
2004 (U of Michigan)1212971330110.815
Career (U of Michigan)4436253354180.569
With the third pick of the 2005 draft, Browns GM wanted to take the best player available. That player was former Michigan Wolverine Braylon Edwards. Edwards earned the right to wear the revered maize and blue number 1, setting new Michigan career records for receptions, yards, and touchdowns. The only criticism of this Biletnikoff Award winner's game is his tendency to drop passes - a theme that was also common of Browns receivers during the Butch Davis era. If Edwards can hold onto the football, and continue the success he had in college, he will change from a hated foe into a loved hero in the hearts of Ohio sports fans.

87 Andre Davis
2004 (Cleveland)771641659.42
Career (3 years)391993141236.213
Andre Davis was having a career month in October of 2004 - he averaged almost 98 yards per game in weeks 4, 5, and 6, including a franchise-record 99-yard touchdown reception against Cincinnati in week 6. That ended quickly, though, as a toe sprain against the Bengals allowed him to play only one game for the rest of the season. The big play threat has four receptions of 49 yards or more and a 95-yard kick return for a touchdown in his career. He will look to continue the success that was cut short in 2004.

81 Antonio Bryant
2004 (Dallas/Cleveland)1585881254.14
Career (3 years)4728141209544.612
In a trade of malcontents, Cleveland shipped Quincy Morgan to the Cowboys for Antonio Bryant. While Dennis Northcutt led the Browns in receptions in 2004, Bryant's combined stats with Cleveland and Dallas were better. The Browns' "other" Biletnikoff winner grew unhappy in Dallas when he wasn't given playing time. His numbers show that he can be worth the playing time. With the Browns' newfound talent at wide receiver, will Bryant get that playing time?

19 Frisman Jackson
2004 (Cleveland)1001316816.80
Career (3 years)220162039.20
The brown-and-orange number 19 jersey will perhaps always be associated with Bernie Kosar. The current number 19 is said to have a great passing arm, but he doesn't line up at quarterback - usually. Frisman Jackson is listed as a wide receiver on the depth chart, but he can best be described by the over-used monicker of "role player." Jackson has done just about everything except kick extra points in his short career with the Browns. He's made tackles on coverage teams, blocked for kick returner Richard Alston, caught passes (of course), and has also been the go-to guy when the Browns needed a Hail Mary pass. If Romeo Crennel has learned anything from mentor Bill Belichick, there should always be a place for role players on a Crennel-coached team.

89 Richard Alston
2004 (Cleveland)90000.00
Career (1 year)90000.00
Richard Alston is listed as a wide receiver, but he has yet to catch a pass in the NFL. That hasn't stopped him from making an impact, though. Alston was only active for one game prior to week 8 in 2004. In week 8, though, he did something to earn a roster spot for the rest of the season - Alston took the opening kickoff from the Ravens and raced 93 yards down the sideline for a touchdown. It was his only touchdown of the season, but that didn't stop him from being an effective returner. Alston averaged 22.1 yards per return in 2004, and will look to repeat his success in 2005.

85 CJ Jones
2004 (Cleveland)00000.00
Career (2 years)00000.00
Many current Browns fans have probably heard of CJ Jones, but he has yet to play in a game. Primarily a kick returner, Jones has also spent time on the practice squad and in NFL Europe as a receiver (his true position) and a defensive back. On an interesting note, Jones is a cousin of Cardinals wide receiver Anquan Boldin, former Dolphin Korey Banks, and former Iowa teammate Brad Banks.

16 Josh Cribbs
Receiving stats at Kent State not available.
The name Josh Cribbs may be familiar to Browns fans, but the position won't be. The former Kent State quarterback signed with his new hometown team (Cribbs is originally from Washington, DC) shortly after the 2005 NFL draft. While at Kent State, Cribbs amassed 10,839 total yards on offense - a school record - and finished with 1,000+ yards passing and 1,000+ yards rushing in the same season three times. Only one other player in history has had two career 1,000/1,000 seasons. Cribbs joins a host of talented all-around athletes trying to make the Browns at wide receiver.

11 Lance Moore

2004 (U of Toledo)1390118991.514
Career (U of Toledo)50222277655.525
Yet another theme in the Browns' camp this year is homegrown talent. Lance Moore hails from the University of Toledo, where he set school records for receptions, yards, and touchdowns. The undersized (5'9", 177 lbs.) Moore also returned kicks and punts while with the Rockets.

1 Brandon Rideau
2004 (Kansas U)11115159745.97
Career (Kansas U)4334131163638.014
Brandon Rideau is yet another all-around athlete. The high school quarterback, track star, and basketball state champion added two blocked punts to the 131 catches he had while at Kansas. His height - 6'3" - will work in his favor while trying to make the Browns.

Tight End

80 Kellen Winslow, Jr.
2004 (Cleveland)2255025.00
Career (1 year)2255025.00
Kellen Winslow is brash, cocky, and arrogant to the point of annoyance (this writer for one is constantly annoyed with him). That being said, it must be a great feeling for a quarterback (armchair or otherwise) to always have a sure option in the seam on third-and-long. Winslow's career has been short, but still has a load of potential.

82 Steve Heiden
2004 (Cleveland)13132828722.15
Career (6 years)8041776137.78
When you draft a player like Kellen Winslow, it only makes sense to install a tight end-centric offense. When Winslow went down to injury, the rest of Cleveland's tight ends benefited from the playbook designed to feature their position. Steve Heiden was one of several Browns tight ends to have career years. If Offensive Coordinator Maurice Carthon is wise, he will take a lesson from predecessor Terry Robiskie and go to his hard-nosed tight ends early and often.

83 Aaron Shea
2004 (Cleveland)1582625216.84
Career (5 years)53267969813.26
Aaron Shea was another beneficiary of Terry Robiskie's tight end-centric offense. Similar to Steve Heiden, Shea put up career stats in 2004, with numbers only slightly lower than Heiden's.

49 Keith Heinrich
2004 (Cleveland)708649.12
Career (3 years)1838643.62
You want a career year for a Browns tight end? Keith Heinrich didn't catch a pass in his first two years in the NFL. In 2004, he caught three passes and found the end zone twice.

88 Paul Irons
2004 (Florida State)11118898.10
Career (Florida State)4921161743.61
Undrafted rookie Paul Irons started at Florida State as a fullback, but was later moved to tight end. Irons' numbers were limited, but his participation was not. Yet another role player, Irons played 89 games for the Seminoles at fullback, tight end, and on special teams.

84 Keith Willis
2004 (Cleveland)00000.00
Career (1 year)00000.00
Tight end Keith Willis falls into the "all-around athlete" category. Mostly a reserve on the Virginia Tech football team, Willis also spent a year playing for the Hokie basketball team. In addition to playing tight end in high school, Willis also played tight end and punter.