The Cleveland Browns beat the Detroit Lions in their first preseason game of the 2012 year but it was the Browns’ depth which beat out the Lions’ depth in the second half of the game. Detroit was up 14-3 at the half and Cleveland’s reserves fought back to hand the Lions a 19-17 loss.
Of course this is preseason and it’s really hard to gauge how the Browns will play in the regular season once all their starters are in the lineup for an entire game, but one thing really stood out in this game. It was the fact that rookie wide receiver Josh Gordon is a product of local Cleveland media over-hype during practices and he is raw with a ton to learn before making any big impact on offense.
All training camp the media has been hitting the Internet and Twitter hard saying how talented Gordon is in practice. His size, speed, leaping ability, one-handed catches, etc. and the list goes on are some of the examples of the hype and fans are buying into it way too much too.
It’s only practice.
While the local media is sugar-coating their coverage of Gordon, t his writer has been very harsh on Gordon and the Browns for picking him in the second round of the supplemental draft. Obviously there is some bult-in trust with general manager Tom Heckert’s decision to use a second round 2013 draft pick on a player who has had failed drug tests and hasn’t played football in over a calendar year. But Gordon’s performance on the field has really been less than stellar.
At Browns camp on August 1, this writer was present at practice and watched Gordon closely. Again, while the local media was tweeting out all the good things he was doing in practice, the focus was on the reality of the situation with Gordon and he’s super raw. Even though he has potential and ability, he could still be at least a year away from making any major impact on the Browns’ offense.
After watching one camp practice, and this was also seen during the Lions game, if you watch Gordon’s footwork it is sloppy (and that’s putting it nicely). His cuts are slow and he should be taking at least one less step before he makes a break toward the sideline, otherwise a defensive back will read this and make a jump on the football. This nearly happened in the first quarter with a dropped pick-six by Detroit. In the replay, you can clearly see Gordon needs a lot of work on not only his footwork but his route running as well and the defender saw this and made his jump on the ball. If Gordon took one last step before making his cut, the ball would have been caught by him since it was throw to the spot Gordon should’ve been at.
Did Heckert panic and not see all these issues with Gordon? Well, Gordon hasn’t played football in over a year (and is recovering from a slight leg injury from his pro day) but Cleveland spent next year’s second round pick on the rookie and in today’s NFL, both first and second round picks usually should be able to start at some point in their rookie season barring any injuries. Maybe Gordon will be well-adjusted and starting by midseason. Or maybe he won’t be ready to start until next year.
With fellow rookie receiver Travis Benjamin making the biggest impact on offense versus the Lions (mainly with his speed), you can bet he is moving up the depth chart faster than Gordon is right now but hopefully in the long term both will be big contributors in the Browns’ offense.
Daniel is a former guest writer for NationalFootballPost.com, former NFL featured content coordinator and beat writer at BleacherReport.com and former founder and editor-in-chief of NationalFootballAuthority.com. Follow him on Twitter: @TheDanielWolf