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Thursday, July 7, 2011
Hope and Concern: Browns' receivers

By James Walker
ESPN.com

This week marks the return of the "Hope and Concern" series in the AFC North blog. But this time, we will examine certain positions.

On Thursday we start with the much-maligned Cleveland Browns receivers.

Biggest reason for hope: West Coast offense

It's hard to describe the style of offense the Browns were running the past two seasons under former head coach Eric Mangini and former offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. Archaic and simplistic are some words that come to mind. Cleveland's passing game was very conservative and it was a big reason why president Mike Holmgren made the coaching change to an offensive mind in Pat Shurmur. The Browns believe running a better system -- in this case the West Coast offense -- will make Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie better players. Neither starter could get open consistently, but better routes and play-calling might help this upcoming season. The West Coast offense also plays much better to quarterback Colt McCoy's biggest strength, which is his accuracy.

Biggest reason for concern: Lack of athleticism

The Browns are one of the slowest teams in the NFL, and it shows in their receiving corps. Neither Massaquoi nor Robiskie is considered a speed burner who can get behind the defense. That makes it easy for opponents to defend Cleveland's offense and stack the line of scrimmage against standout running back Peyton Hillis. In my opinion, the ceilings for Massaquoi and Robiskie are not very high. Although the pair certainly can play better and work on consistency, what we've seen from them athletically the past two seasons is pretty much what the Browns have. It would help if Cleveland found a legitimate No. 1 receiver to take the pressure off Robiskie and Massaquoi. The Browns are high on second-round pick Greg Little, who could help but might need time to develop after missing all of 2010 via suspension. Little is not a deep threat, but he's big enough and athletic enough to fight defenders for jump balls and can break tackles after the catch. Little potentially could bring the type of athleticism to the offense Robiskie and Massaquoi both lack.