Browns select Gordon in supplemental draft
Some will call it a huge gamble; others, an educated guess.
To the Cleveland Browns, it was simply the result of wise research.
The Browns on Thursday gave up their second-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft to take a guy who did not play last season.
The result: The Browns selected former Baylor wide receiver Josh Gordon in the second round of Thursday’s supplemental draft. The team’s winning bid means the Browns lose the same pick in April.
It’s worth it to general manager Tom Heckert.
“Where we got Josh, I think it’s a good value and we got him a year early,” Heckert said during a conference call with the Cleveland media. “We hope he comes in and plays right away. We expect him to play.”
This is a big move for the Browns, one that entails high risk and potentially high rewards. Heckert said Gordon has a long way to go to be an elite receiver but possesses elite skills at a position of great need.
“It’s something we really did our homework on,” Heckert said.
At his workout Tuesday, Gordon measured 6-foot-3 and 224 pounds and had a 4.52-second timing in the 40-yard dash. He caught the ball well and seemed to be faster than his 40 time would indicate. The same was true in his only season at Baylor, when seven of his 42 receptions as a sophomore were for touchdowns. He amassed 714 yards on receptions.
“He’s a big kid,” Heckert said. “He can run, and he’s got huge hands and long arms. He’s an impressive looking kid.”
The negatives were right there, as well.
Gordon was arrested in October 2010 when he and a friend fell asleep in a Taco Bell drive-thru and police found marijuana in the car driven and owned by Gordon’s friend.
Charges were dismissed, and Gordon finished the season.
But in July 2011 he failed a marijuana test and was suspended indefinitely by Baylor. In August, Gordon transferred to Utah, where he practiced but could not play. He bypassed the 2012 season to make himself eligible for the supplemental draft.
Gordon promised his troubles are behind him, and the Browns obviously agree. Heckert said he talked with “a zillion people” at Baylor and Utah, and the Browns were the only team to bring him in for a visit. The Browns also were one of just six teams to send two scouts to his workout.
“There were concerns about him, so I drilled him pretty hard when I was with him,” Heckert said. “He didn’t back down and he told me everything I thought I needed to hear from him. He promised me he was going to be a guy that we would love having in Cleveland.”
Gordon joins Greg Little as Browns receivers who were or will be NFL rookies after not playing their previous season. While many believe Gordon will need time to grow, there are some who believe he can and will contribute this season.
“I don’t know if we can answer that right now,” Heckert said. “We hope he can come in and play right away. We expect him to play.”
If he does, it’s a plus — and would give the Browns two young receivers (including Little), a running back (Trent Richardson) and a quarterback (Brandon Weeden) who can grow together.
If Gordon lives up to potential — and potential can get a coach fired — the second-round choice used to get him could be a steal. Some scouts thought he would have been a first-round choice if he had stayed at Utah for his final season.
A second-round choice for a first-round player? Not bad.
But if he busts, it’s a pick given up for nothing, something that can and does happen in every NFL Draft.
“I don’t know if it’s risky,” Heckert said. “That’s kind of where we thought he was as a player. He’s a guy that can come in here and be an eventual starter for us and make plays. With the draft, there’s always some risk involved.”
The Browns have this thing about second-round receivers, going all the way back to Kevin Johnson and going through Andre Davis and Quincy Morgan and Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie and Little.
But they clearly liked Gordon, and not just for his potential.
If a team likes a player, it makes sense to go get him. The Browns tried to do that with Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, but it didn’t work. They made sure they got Gordon.
As a result, all four areas targeted as offseason needs on the offense have been filled with young players. The quarterback (Weeden), running back (Richardson) and right tackle (Mitchell Schwartz) came in the April draft, and the receiver — Gordon — comes in the supplemental draft.
“They’re young,” Heckert said, “but we think we’ve gotten a lot better on offense.”