Browns pass, again, on pass catchers

After passing up pass catchers in the draft, the Browns will rely on players like Dwayne Bowe, Taylor Gabriel, and Brian Hartline in 2015.  

Tony Dejak/AP

The Cleveland Browns needed a pass rusher — at least one.

For the promise running backs Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell showed as rookies, they’re very similar players who still have much to prove.

The Browns taking outside linebacker Nate Orchard, running back Duke Johnson and defensive tackle Xavier Cooper Friday night makes sense.

Taking a wide receiver would have made sense, too, but it didn’t happen.

Browns General Manager Ray Farmer is betting on his guys and his philosophies. The Browns already spent money on veterans Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline this season, and how they play will test Farmer’s apparent belief in the receiver position. The Browns didn’t draft a receiver last year at all and found Taylor Gabriel as an undrafted free agent.

The Browns need playmakers, period, and it’s hard to hate adding Orchard, who had 18.5 sacks at Utah last season, and Johnson, a speedy back from Miami (Fla.) who can catch passes out of the backfield and potentially be a big-play guy. The Browns have a new offensive coordinator in John DeFilippo, and Johnson adds an element that wasn’t previously there.

Still, it’s fair to wonder about the receiving corps.

And the quarterback.

Asked about not taking receivers on the team’s draft-night radio show, Farmer said, "You keep saying I should draft a wide receiver, and I’m trying to figure out why."

But at least the Browns appear to be building an identity — or building to a philosophy — of wanting to run the ball and be better in the front seven. They took two linemen, one on each side, in Thursday’s first round. They took Orchard in the second round, Johnson and Cooper in the third and have two fourth-round picks coming. It’s hard to imagine starters are coming from those, but the Browns know they’re going to have to run the ball to win and make a big leap from 32nd in run defense, which they were last year.