The Cleveland Browns face an uphill battle in one of the most difficult divisions in the NFL. The Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers all made the playoffs in 2011 and have their sights set on bigger and better things this season.
Nevertheless, Cleveland addressed its needs very will in April with the additions of running back Trent Richardson and quarterback Brandon Weeden in the first round (both of whom I projected would go to Cleveland).
While Kendall Wright went to the Tennessee Titans, another former star receiver at Baylor landed in Cleveland in the second round of the 2012 NFL Supplemental Draft.
His name is Josh Gordon and he has a pretty checkered off-the-filed history.
During his college career, he failed three drug tests. Before getting kicked out of school at Baylor he had failed two drug tests and the other occured during his short stint at Utah. What’s worse—shortly after getting selected by the Browns, Gordon claimed he hadn’t failed a drug test while at Utah and now admits he was lying.
“Yeah, there was a failed test,” Gordon told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
“Coming out here, I have a new experience, a new foundation to get started and I don’t really plan on looking back in the past anymore. I only look toward my future,” Gordon said.
“I’m definitely a changed person. The things that happened were such a long time ago and the fact that there’s this many people in such a prestigious organization like this, putting their jobs and their necks out on the line for a guy like me, it says a lot about them and their character.”
It doesn’t say a lot about his character considering he couldn’t be honest about his drug use. It’s not like the team thought he had no trouble off the field. The team knew he already had failed at least two drug tests. Telling the truth about another one probably wasn’t going to be a deal-breaker, especially since the team had already made the move to get him.
Gordon’s former quarterback at Baylor, Robert Griffin III, offered a candid assessment of Gordon before the supplemental draft.
“He’s been a kid that’s been in a bunch of unfortunate situations, and he knows that he was the reason that those [situations] happened,” Griffin told Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports. ”So I think any team that gets him, of course they’re gonna feel like they’re rolling the dice on the kid. I think that in the end, he’ll be successful if he wants to be successful. That’s all on him. And he knows that. He knows he’s used up all his chances and everybody’s watching him.”
Getting up to speed for his rookie season, given that he didn’t play in 2011 and wasn’t involved in the offseason program, won’t be a day at the beach for Gordon.
“Then again, those same circumstances applied in 2011 to second-round receiver Greg Little, who didn’t play football in 2010 and (like every other rookie) wasn’t involved in the offseason program,” Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com writes.
While Little, 6-2, 220 lbs., didn’t light up the stats sheet and take the world by storm in fantasy terms, his 61 catches for 709 yards and two touchdowns were rather impressive.
Gordon, 21, looks to line up as the No. 2 receiver from Day One, assuming he’s chosen over Mohamed Massaquoi and Joshua Cribbs. He certainly fits the bill for success with his solid size at 6’3, 224 pounds.
Aside from Oakland Raiders second-year signal-caller Terrell Pryor, who looks to provide an impact in the near future, over the past decade, only two players picked from the supplemental draft have made an impact at the next level—former fifth-round selection OT Jared Gaither (2007) and linebacker Ahmad Brooks (third-round pick in 2006).
This is a young player that has what it takes to be successful if he can learn from his mistakes and put the past behind him. The same can be said for this up-and-coming club that seems to be stuck as the bottom-dwellers of the AFC North.
“Still, a perennially bad team can become a consistent contender by making only a handful of great moves, and the Browns are at least giving their fans reason to hope that the corner finally is being turned,” Mike Florio added.