Clayton: Browns' gamble makes sense

July, 13, 2012
7/13/12
2:30
PM ET
Using a second-round supplemental pick on former Baylor wide receiver Josh Gordon might have been a gamble for the Cleveland Browns, but it was a smart gamble.

When Mike Holmgren took over the Browns, the cupboard was bare at wide receiver. Even though former coach Eric Mangini used 2009 second-round picks on wide receivers Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi, neither offered the play-making ability to match the previous offenses that had Braylon Edwards and tight end Kellen Winslow.

[+] EnlargeBaylor's Josh Gordon
Brett Davis/US PRESSWIREBaylor receiver Josh Gordon offers more potential at the position than anyone on the Bowns' roster.
Don’t expect much more than 45 catches from Gordon as a rookie, because he’s so far behind for conditioning and learning an NFL offense by entering the year so late. But at least quarterback Brandon Weeden has more potential to work with at receiver. Gordon, Greg Little and fourth-round choice Travis Benjamin form the core group of receivers he will work with over the next couple of years.

Ultimately, general manager Tom Heckert will be judged on the decision last year to give wide receiver Julio Jones to the Atlanta Falcons in a five-pick deal. Jones is considered a future Pro Bowl receiver. The trade gave the Browns the extra ammunition to get Little last year, along with fullback Owen Marecic. It gave them the ability to draft Weeden as the starter in 2012.

Getting Gordon -- even at the cost of a second-round pick -- was worth it. It might take Gordon until 2014 to be a legitimate starter. Little or Gordon might never be as good as Jones, but if Heckert is right on Gordon, the Browns have more potential playmakers at receiver to start climbing out of the bottom of the AFC North in the next few years.

Sitting back and waiting until next year’s draft for a receiver would have been a bad gamble. They can develop Gordon now. Face it, the Browns aren’t going to be a playoff team this season. They are rebuilding. Gordon is a nice piece of the puzzle.

John Clayton

NFL senior writer

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