Cleveland needed to infuse its passing game with talent after finishing the season No. 27 in passing yards, despite having the league’s No. 4 rushing attack.
While Anthony Schwartz and Donovan Peoples-Jones are ascending young players, the Browns drafted Purdue receiver David Bell in the third round and Michael Woods II out of Oklahoma in the sixth round to infuse the room with some more talent.
In an interview with 92.3 The Fan on Tuesday, head coach Kevin Stefanski said he feels good about the receiving corps as the club gets into Phase II of the offseason program.
“I feel even better watching them throw finally, because I can see it on Monday — throw and catch, that is,” Stefanski said. “I think we have some different traits. Obviously, Amari Cooper — his career speaks for itself. He’s been a productive guy everywhere he’s been. Getting around Amari, getting to know Amari, getting to see him run, see what routes and concepts he’s best at. And then seeing what the quarterback, [how] he rhythms up with Amari. What you want ultimately is that route between the two of them where it’s a gimme, it’s a nine out of 10, we’re going to take it. So we’re just exploring that.
“And then we’ve got young guys. I like having the youth in there. I like having the competitive group in there. Also, not that this is the most important part, but it’s a really, really smart group. Just you break the huddle and with Amari, and Donovan, and Schwartzy, adding a young guy like David Bell who’s really a smart young player, I think it’s a group that has a ton of good traits and you can move them around the formation.”
With Jarvis Landry still on the free-agent market, Stefanski was asked who the team’s No. 2 receiver is after Cooper. The head coach chuckled as he called it a “great question,” noting it’s a long time before they truly have to set the depth chart.
“I think it’s going to be so dependent — I was talking to coaches about this today — dependent on play type,” Stefanski said. “I might be dependent on personnel. If we’re in 12 personnel, your No. 2 might be this guy. If you’re in 11, we’re going to bump this guy in here. So it remains to be seen. We have a couple of rookies who haven’t been on campus yet, so until I see them, I really can’t say.”
Last year, Peoples-Jones led the team with 597 receiving yards and Landry topped Cleveland with 52 receptions. No matter who is at quarterback, those numbers stand to significantly increase with Cooper in tow.