- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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Last July, I thought it was the right move when the Cleveland Browns selected wide receiver Josh Gordon in the second round of the supplemental draft. A year later, the Browns look even smarter with the decision, even though chief executive officer Joe Banner refuses to admit it.
After a slow first quarter of the season, Gordon kept improving throughout the season, catching 43 passes and scoring five touchdowns in his final 12 games. He showed flashes of being the team's long-term answer at the No. 1 receiver spot.
The decision to take Gordon started with the Browns choosing running back Trent Richardson over wide receiver Justin Blackmon in the top five of last year's draft. Blackmon was suspended Tuesday for the first four games of the 2013 season for his second violation of the substance abuse policy in less than a year.
Gordon was also considered a risk after he failed multiple drug tests during his college career. Still, there's a difference between investing a first-round pick and a second-round one on a player with red flags.
I believe the Browns made the right move with Gordon because I'm not sure he lasts until the Browns' second-round pick this year. The Browns gave up the 39th pick overall in this year's draft by taking Gordon last year.
Steve Muench of Scouts Inc. told me that he would have projected Gordon to be a late first or early second-round pick.
"I don’t see him getting past 41 where Buffalo took Southern Cal wide receiver Robert Woods, so I think he would have been a top-five wide receiver in last year’s class," Muench said. "It’s just tough to find that kind of size, speed and athletic ability."
Gordon might have gone as early at No. 27 in the first round, according to Muench. That's where the Houston Texans selected Clemson wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, the second receiver to get drafted. "Hopkins is a good value and fit there, but the same can be said about Gordon. So the Texans would have had a tough choice," Muench said.
Muench thinks the Minnesota Vikings would've still gone with Cordarrelle Patterson over Gordon at No. 29 because of his ability to make plays in space, but Gordon might have been selected over Justin Hunter by the Tennessee Titans at No. 34.
Based on Muench's analysis, it looks like the Browns got the right value in using a second-round pick on Gordon, and got an additional year out of him because it was a supplemental pick. Still, the Browns' new regime isn't ready to applaud the move made by former president Mike Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert.
Asked if he can say now whether or not Gordon was worth the second-round pick, Banner said last weekend: "My answer is the same as it was. I think Josh has a lot of potential, and we are excited about what he can do. We’re all going to see how he develops and what he can turn into. In the end, that question will answer itself, I think. We’re certainly rooting for him to prove that was a great decision.”
10hJason Gibbs, Special to ESPN.com
1dJason Gibbs, Special to ESPN.com