Cleveland Browns: Buying or Selling Josh Gordon as a Legitimate WR in the NFL

Brian BelkoContributor IIIOctober 25, 2012

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 14:  Wide receiver Josh Gordon #13 of the Cleveland Browns catches a touchdown pass in front of safety Reggie Nelson of the Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns Stadium on October 14, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns took a big risk in spending a second-round pick in the 2012 supplemental draft in order to obtain embattled college receiver Josh Gordon.

Many criticized the move as an attempt by the Browns' front office to make up for the fact that they didn't draft a receiver until the fourth round in the regular NFL draft. However, others saw the move as a positive because of Gordon's physical tools.

The main criticism of Gordon was his lack of playing time in college. He only saw significant playing time for one season at Baylor in 2010 before being released from the program for several failed drug tests (h/t Gordon then transferred to Utah, where he was allowed to practice with the team but never made it to the playing field due to yet another failed drug test.

So it seemed that the Browns had risked a future second-round pick on a troubled young receiver with a lot of potential. However, that potential could not be denied and it would become a wait-and-see situation before his value to the team could be determined.

After turning some heads in training camp, Gordon was eased slowly into the first several regular-season games. Through the first four games of the season, Gordon registered seven catches on 14 targets for a paltry 93 yards and zero touchdowns.

After that unimpressive performance through four games, many Browns fans were ready to start selling Gordon as ever being able to become a legitimate threat at wide receiver in the NFL. However, those fans may have been jumping the gun.

After the fourth game of the season, reports began to emerge from the Browns that Gordon was having great performances in practice and that he looked ready to break out on offense. Those reports have proven to be very true.

In the three games since those reports emerged, Gordon has collected seven more catches on 22 targets. While his number of catches is the same as after his first four games, the improvements in receiving yards and touchdown receptions are what should really open some eyes.

His seven catches over the last three games have resulted in an impressive 240 total yards and an even more impressive four touchdown receptions. He has shown explosiveness downfield and the ability to make big plays. Two of his four touchdown receptions have gone for 62 and 71 yards.

Combining his ability to get open downfield with the cannon arm possessed by Browns' rookie QB Brandon Weeden gives you a lethal weapon that will begin to strike fear in opposing defensive coordinators.

It is also important to note that Gordon's behavior off the field has been spotless since he joined the Browns. After failing three drug tests in college, it was thought that he would struggle in adjusting to the NFL. He became a millionaire overnight after being selected in the supplemental draft, and that can be a lot for a 21-year-old kid to handle.

However, Gordon has shown no signs of reverting back to the behavior that got him into trouble in college.

After taking everything into consideration, I am ready to buy into Josh Gordon as being on his way to becoming a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver in the NFL. He has the physical tools, the commitment to improving every week and the attention to detail that is necessary for any receiver who wants to be successful in the NFL.