Friday, February 7, 2014
MVP replacements: Cleveland Browns
By Pat McManamon
Whether it's a marquee QB or an interior defensive lineman, no team can afford to lose its most valuable player.
So, who steps in if the unfathomable happens? Our NFL Nation reporters and Scouts Inc.'s Steve Muench and Kevin Weidl have teamed up to identify each team's most important player and which player in the 2014 draft each team can target to groom as a potential replacement -- MVP insurance. For some teams, their future stars may be slightly younger than others as draft-eligible non-seniors are denoted with an asterisk.
There is very little debate about the identity of the Cleveland Browns’ MVP.
Josh Gordon runs away with this title the same way he ran away from Aqib Talib in New England. The Browns have to count themselves fortunate that they did not trade Gordon during the season.
Gordon set team records for receiving yards in a season and yards per game, and led the league in receiving yards despite playing just 14 games.
But the reason he played the 14 games is what has to have the Browns wondering what to do with him. Gordon is one more positive drug test from missing an entire season.
That would leave the Browns in dire straits because the Browns really have no other receiver.
Greg Little's inconsistency and his drops make him a guy likely to be released. Davone Bess' personal struggles since the season ended indicate why he struggled so much during the season.
The Browns have to help Gordon, but they also need to ensure that they are covered if he is suspended or injured. Very few teams have this large a gap between their MVP and the rest of the roster.
As the Browns look to the draft, they must ponder the notion of adding a top-quality receiver across from Gordon, but also ponder that adding that receiver might also be to protect them if Gordon is suspended again.
The line walked by the Browns -- and Gordon -- is very fine.
Potential pick: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
Robinson is an extremely raw route-runner but has intriguing physical tools. He is far from a burner but has enough speed to threaten vertically and has the size and strength to one-on-one downfield battles. In addition, he is underrated after the catch with above-average vision, strength and balance as a runner. Robinson would provide Cleveland with a physical receiver next to Gordon that could thrive against single coverage if they elect to target him somewhere in Day 2.
-- Kevin Weidl