Cleveland Browns' history with second-round receivers a dubious one

Cleveland Browns' history with second-round receivers a dubious one

Published Apr. 16, 2015 8:42 a.m. ET

CLEVELAND - "Don't do it Ray!"

That could be the analytic study recommendation to Browns general manager Ray Farmer if the Browns were trying to decide if they should draft a wide receiver in the second round based on the results in the team's history of doing so.

There is some speculation by draft pundits that the Browns might draft a wide receiver in the second round rather than taking one of the top receivers in the first round like Amari Cooper, Kevin White, DeVante Parker, if available.

Other potential first round candidates per's Dane Brugler are Dorial Green-Beckham, Breshad Perriman and Jaelen Strong.


All that Browns fans have to look at is the 2011 draft when they chose to forego drafting Julio Jones and accepted a trade and used one of the picks they received to take Greg Little, who was hardly a poor man's version of Jones, in the second round.

Overall, from a historical perspective, that would not be a good plan.

Dating back to 1983, the Browns have drafted 14 wide receivers in the second round with more players whose careers were closer to the "bad" category than "good."

Since 1999, the Browns have drafted eight wide receivers in the second round, including doing so in the first four years back. Ironically, the Browns did not draft a wide receiver in the second round from 1950-82. Coincidently, most of the franchise's success came in those years.

Let's take an inventory of the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Good

At the top of the list are Kevin Johnson and Webster Slaughter.

Josh Gordon put up the best numbers in one season in team history when he led the NFL with 1,646 receiving yards in 2013, but due to his indefinite suspension for substance abuse it is hard to list Gordon in the good category, regardless of his superior ability because of his unavailability.

Johnson was drafted when the team returned in 1999 is tied for fourth on the all-time Browns receiving list with Brian Brennan with 315 catches. He had 84 receptions in 2001. However, Johnson was not exactly a game-breaking receiver, but more of a possession receiver, as was Brennan.

Slaughter is seventh on the all-time receiving list with 305 and is sixth in receiving yards with 4,834. Slaughter had 27 touchdowns with the Browns.

The Bad

Other than the hits on Johnson and Slaughter, there were a few who flashed a little in their stints with the Browns, but overall, didn't live up to being a second-round draft choice.

It might be a little strong to say that these receivers were "bad" but Clint Eastwood's movie was "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly." Most of these receivers would be termed "serviceable."

Dennis Northcutt caught 276 passes in his seven seasons with the Browns and is tied with Earnest Byner for 10th on the Browns all-time receiving list.  Northcutt's best season receiving was in 2003 when he had 62 catches to lead the team. He had 55 receptions the next season.

Northcutt is remembered for dropping a third-down pass in the Browns only playoff appearance since the return against the Steelers in 2002 that would've clinched a Browns victory had he caught the pass off his hands to pick up the first down.

Quincy Morgan caught 133 passes in four seasons with the Browns, including his best year in 2002 when he caught 56 passes for 964 yards and seven touchdowns. Morgan was the receiver who was ruled to have dropped the pass against the Jaguars that cost the Browns the game and resulted in the infamous 'Bottlegate' at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

Mohamed Massaquoi played four seasons with the Browns but was often injured and never caught more than 36 passes in a season.

Greg Little had 61 catches in his rookie season for 709 yards, but his production went down in each of the next two seasons.

Gerald McNeil and Andre Davis were nice kick and punt returners as McNeil had just 24 receptions in his Browns career, while Davis had 93 receptions in three seasons.

The Ugly

The rest of the group would be major swings and misses. Ron Brown (1982) never played for the Browns, while the next year they tried to find a receiver again in Bruce Davis (1983) and he lasted all of one season and caught just seven passes for 199 yards, including two touchdowns.

Lawyer Tillman (1989) had an injury-marred career that was interrupted for two seasons and he only caught 36 passes with the team. Patrick Rowe (1992) caught three passes in his career with the Browns, lasting just one season.

Brian Robiskie (2009) had a disappointing, three-year stint with the Browns and totaled just 39 receptions with the Browns, including 29 in 2010.

Here's the entire list of the wide receivers drafted by the Browns in the second round and a capsule summary of their Browns careers.

1983 - €”Ron Brown--Never played for the Browns

1984 - Bruce Davis (1984 season) - Career with Browns totaled seven receptions for 119 yards with two touchdowns

1984 (supplemental) - €”Gerald "Ice Cube" McNeil ”(1986-89) - Predominantly, a great kick returner, who had just 24 career receptions with the Browns.

1986 - Webster Slaughter (1986-91) - Seventh All-time leading receiver in Browns history with 305 catches; sixth in receiving yards with 4,834 yards and 27 touchdowns

1989 - Lawyer Tillman (1989, 1992-93) - Injury-riddled career saw just 36 receptions

1992 - Patrick Rowe (1993) - Another injury-marred career, Rowe had just three catches for 37 yards with the Browns

1999 - Kevin Johnson (1999-2003) - Tied for fourth on the franchise career receptions list with Brian Brennan with 315. Johnson had 84 catches in 2001—fifth best season in history.

2000 - €”Dennis Northcutt (2000-06) - Tied with Earnest Byner for 10th place with 276 receptions.

2001 - €”Quincy Morgan (2001-04) - Finished with 133 receptions. Best season was 56 receptions for 964, including seven touchdowns.

2002 - Andre Davis (2002-04) - €”Had 93 career receptions with best season having 40 catches for 576 yards, including five touchdowns

2009 - €”Brian Robiskie (2009-11) - €”Had 39 career receptions with the Browns, including 29 catches for  310 yards with three touchdowns in 2010

2009 - €”Mohamed Massaquoi (2009-12) - €”Had 118 receptions with the Browns. He had 34 receptions for 624 yards, including three touchdowns in 2009 followed by 36 receptions in 2010, 31 in 2011 and 17 in 2012.

2011 - Greg Little (2011-13) - Had 61 catches for 709 yards in 2011 followed by 53 receptions for 647 yards in 2012. His last year he had 41 catches for 465 yards

2013 (supplemental) - €”Josh Gordon (2012-2014) - Led the NFL in receiving yards in 2013 with 1,646 receiving yards on 87 catches in his second season, despite being suspended for two games. Had 50 receptions for 805 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie. Last season, Gordon was suspended for 11 games and caught 24 passes for 303 yards and no touchdowns.