It must be a rollercoster ride being a Cleveland Browns fan. After decades of pain and a 4-12 record in 2013, this year's draft offered the franchise a great opportunity to right itself and build for the future.
After the end of the draft's first round it was all going so well. The Browns had picked up a great cornerback prospect in Justin Gilbert. They had then followed this up by making the most exciting pick of the draft, at number 22 overall, Cleveland took quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Manziel a player who has a genuine shot at being a great franchise quarterback.
After being a 4-12 team that finished 4th in the AFC North, the Browns were suddenly the most talked about team in the NFL. There were legitimate hopes of a winning season and possibly an outside shot at the playoffs.
A big part of all this was the presence of wide receiver Josh Gordon. In 2013 Gordon was outstanding posting 1,646 yards at an average of 18.9 yards per carry leading to nine endzone trips.
If Gordon could do anything like that again with Manziel at quarterback then Cleveland could be one of the breakout teams of 2014.
Then as the second round of the draft was starting the news broke. Josh Gordon had failed a drug test for Marijuana use. This was his second such failure. Gordon could be gone for if not all the 2014 season then at least half of it.
The Browns now had a choice to make with the 3rd pick in the second round (35th
overall) did they stick to whatever pre-draft plan they had? Or did they dip into the incredibly talent rich wide receiver pool and take a Marquise Lee or Jordan Matthews?
The Browns decided to stick with what must have been the original plan and drafted tackle Joel Bitonio. It is likely they were hoping that Gordon would be back at some point in the 2014 season. With some luck Gordon might only miss the first half of the season.
These hopes were likely killed off with Gordon's arrest for a driving whilst under the influence. Although the hammer hasn't fallen on Gordon yet the chances of him being seen in a Cleveland jersey within the next 12 months are small indeed.
How can the Browns move on without Gordon?
There is no doubt that the loss of Gordon will hit the Browns hard. All hope is not lost for a successful season is not lost though if pro bowl pass catcher Jordan Cameron can build on his impressive 2013 campaign.
Last season the tight end enjoyed a breakout year as he clocked up 917 yards at an average of 11.5 per carry with seven touchdowns. These figures were delivered off 80 receptions.
If we accept that Josh Gordon is gone then these receptions are likely going to increase dramatically. It is not out of the question for Cameron to be targeted around 120 times in the 2014 season. The question is how successful would such a strategy likely be for the Browns?
The good news for the Browns is that new QB Manziel likes big targets. At Texas A&M his most prolific weapon was Mike Evans.
Evans and Cameron are very similar types of targets. Both are 6'5'' and possess the physique that makes them a huge mismatch threat against linebackers, cornerbacks and safetys.
Their 40 yard dash times are within 0.06 seconds of each other, although Cameron was 0.26 seconds quicker at the three cone drill and both have a similar vertical leap.
In 2013 Manziel threw 69 receptions to Evans which he took for 1,394 yards and 12 touchdowns.
If Cameron can get a similar relationship going with Manziel then the Browns season can still be a successful one.
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