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AFC North Positional Rankings: Wide Receiver

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Dec 14, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon (12) and Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Leon Hall (29) at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Bengals beat the Browns 30-0. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

3. Cleveland Browns

WR1: Dwayne Bowe (4th among WR1’s)

WR2: Andrew Hawkins (3rd among WR2’s)

Other WR’s: Brian Hartline, Taylor Gabriel

TE1: Rob Housler

TE2: Jim Dray

The Cleveland Browns will miss Josh Gordon in 2015.

Cleveland’s struggled at the wide receiver position behind Josh Gordon since he was drafted in the 2012 supplementary draft. However, with the addition of Dwayne Bowe and the development of Taylor Gabriel, the Browns’ receiving corps could actually be a dangerous group.

May 26, 2015; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (80) uring organized team activities at the Cleveland Browns training facility. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Dwayne Bowe’s career as an NFL receiver has had some ups and downs. In 2010, Bowe recorded 1,162 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns in a remarkable season and followed that up with a 1,159 yard, five touchdown campaign in 2011. But since then, Bowe’s career has spiraled on a downward trajectory. He hasn’t reached 1,000 yards receiving in a season since 2011 and did not catch a single touchdown in 2014. Sure, a lot of that has to do with the fact that Bowe hasn’t had the best quarterback play in the league; however, he’s not going to be in any more appealing of a situation when he suits up for the Browns. Bowe provides an upgrade over former Browns like Miles Austin and Travis Benjamin, but he is still a mid-level receiver.

Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel, however, both showed huge improvement in 2014. Although the duo only scored three receiving touchdowns in 2014, Hawkins accumulated 824 receiving yards while Gabriel had 621. As Hawkins enters his fifth season (his second with Cleveland) and Gabriel begins his second, the duo could improve on an already impressive 2014 season. And with Dwayne Bowe now on the outside, Gabriel and Hawkins will have more space to work with.

Rob Housler and Jim Dray aren’t very exciting tight ends, but they are above average run-blockers, which should benefit Cleveland. While Cleveland will likely utilize newly added receiver Brian Hartline in four receiver sets more than it will implement two tight end sets, the importance of these tight ends cannot be overstated. Cleveland will need to run the ball in 2015, and if these tight ends can clear a path for the Browns’ three running backs, they will have done their jobs.

Cleveland’s receivers, although still somewhat unexciting, are trending upwards and could make a big impact on the team’s 2015 success. With newly added Bowe, Hartline and Housler along with Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel, the team’s pass-catching committee could become a solid unit in 2015 and help Johnny Manziel develop as a quarterback. Browns fans certainly hope that at least one of these pass-catchers can break out, so that when Josh Gordon presumably returns in 2016, Cleveland will have two high-profile receivers that can strike fear into opposing defenses.