One Of These Combine Performers Can Be The Next Browns Receiver

Tyler Scott, a native of Norton, OH, fills the Browns need of speed in the passing game and also grew up a fan of the team. (USA Today)

Tyler Scott, a native of Norton, OH, fills the Browns need of speed in the passing game and also grew up a fan of the team. (USA Today)

One of these Combine performers can be the next Browns receiver

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Editor's note: Tony Grossi is a Cleveland Browns analyst for and 850 ESPN Cleveland. He has covered the Browns since 1984.

When Andrew Berry politely, but flatly, declined to give a general assessment of the wide receiver class at the NFL Combine, it added to the belief that the Browns’ GM considers the position a high priority in the 2023 draft.

A lot depends on free agency, which begins on March 15. If the Browns attack their needs at defensive line and free safety in free agency, the odds increase dramatically of them using their top pick, No. 42 overall in the second round, on a speedy wide receiver to aid the cause of quarterback Deshaun Watson’s return to past form.

At the Combine, wide receivers were measured and timed on Saturday. If the Browns use their first pick on a receiver, he’s likely to come from the following list.

The heights, weights and 40 times listed are the official figures from the Combine. They will be attached to all NFL draft boards through the draft process.

First round hopefuls

Jordan Addison, Southern California, 5-11, 173, 4.49

Summary: Considered WR1, for now, he pulled out of workouts because of a tight back and hopes to redeem at his pro day. After two productive years at Pitt, he transferred to USC and blossomed with 1,593 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns. He’d like to reunite with Pickett in Pittsburgh.

Combine quote: “[Reuniting with Pickett] would help the transition a lot. Just having your former quarterback, you already got a relationship, number one. And then that trust factor. Once you’re running your routes, he’s trusting you to be at a certain place at the right time.”

Quentin Johnston, Texas Christian, 6-3, 208, N/A 

Summary: With prototypical size for the premier X receiver role in the NFL, he averaged 19 yards a catch in TCU’s run-oriented offense over three years.

Combine quote: “Being a taller receiver, my ability to get in and out of my breaks [is an under-rated aspect of my game]. Usually, unless you've already been in the league, it takes taller receivers more time to get in and out of breaks. I feel like that's something I've worked on a lot, playing like I'm 5-10.”

Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State, 6-1, 196, N/A

Summary: Despite not running the 40, an impressive Combine closed the gap in the quest to be taken first in this group. He restored his standing as an elite talent after missing most of 2022 because of a hamstring injury. Not a burner, he was smooth as ever in Indianapolis. Some earmark him as a high-volume slot receiver in the NFL.

Combine quote: “I feel like I'm a player, wherever you ask me to be, I can be. Outside, inside, pitching me the ball, punt return, wherever you need me to be, I'm the type of guy to get it done.”

Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee, 6-0 1/8, 176, 4.40

Summary: A field-stretcher who had a breakout final season in Vols coach Josh Heupel’s spread offense with 1,267 yards and 15 touchdowns to win the Biletnikoff Award as college’s top receiver.

Combine quote: “In Coach Heupel's offense, we spread it out and look for matchups. We don't run the regular pro-style offense that a lot of teams run obviously with league runs. I can't wait to show my routes. I can run routes. Being in Coach Heupel's offense, you see a lot of vertical things. But I can't wait to prove what I can do other that going deep -- what I can do underneath, what I can do when I get the ball in my hand. I just can't wait to showcase that.”

Second day (second and third round) hopefuls

Tyler Scott, Cincinnati, 5-10, 177, 4.44

Summary: The Norton, OH, native and avowed Browns fan has the explosive play-making ability to make plays downfield and in the intermediate areas with good run-after-catch ability, and in the jet sweep role.

Combine quote: “I think [what separates me is] just my explosiveness and my big play ability. I saw some crazy stat that I average like 43 yards a touchdown catch and that all my touchdowns in Cincinnati were like with 20-plus yards. Secondly, I think just my personality, just my humbleness, the way I carry myself day in and day out. Being a pro not letting the highs get too high, the lows get too low. I think those two things are huge as far as a person you want to have in the program that you don't have to worry about off the field. Somebody who can talk to the media or somebody who can be a good face for the program and then also just be a great player for the football team.”

Zay Flowers, Boston College, 5-9, 182, 4.42 

Summary: He held up on the outside at BC as an exciting deep threat and four-year producer. But his size and drop rate could lower him into the second round as a projected slot receiver.

Combine quote: “I'd say the [NFL] game started off with bigger receivers that could block and take hits and over time, I'd say Tyreek Hill really changed it for smaller receivers. Being able to do what he did, being able to put the ball in his hands anywhere and score touchdowns, has helped guys like me.”

Josh Downs, North Carolina, 5-8, 165, 4.48

Summary: Slight of size, he was a precise route-runner for the Tar Heels and racked up 195 receptions for 2,464 yards his last two seasons.

Combine quote: “Just being a dependable guy is very important to me and being very consistent. Just a guy the quarterback can trust any time he throws the ball to. So I feel like, for me I always want to be that No. 1 target, No. 2 target. Just a guy the quarterback can rely on. Every quarter, every down.”

Cedric Tillman, Tennessee, 6-3, 213, 4.54

Summary: He was the Vols WR1 for two years, but a severe ankle injury limited him to 37 receptions for 417 yards and three touchdowns in seven games. He has ideal size.

Combine quote: “I’m all good now, ready to go. I’m really looking forward to it. [My] season kind of got cut short last year, so I think this is kind of a great time for me to be able to show what I can do.”

Marvin Mims, Oklahoma, 5-11, 183, 4.38

Summary: He averaged 19.5 yards a catch in his Sooners career and also was a good punt returner, but he suffered from a limited route tree and constant change at coach and quarterback. His stock improved with a very good Combine.

Combine quote: “I want to say consistency [is my best attribute]. When you look at it, I had three different quarterbacks, two different OC's three. It's just been tough. You know, everything around me, head coaching change, if you want to call it that, and then basically just my production over the past few years, I mean, it's always been up there, always been consistent. I think I average 16, then 22 to 20 yards per catch, to 19 in my career. That's the numbers, something I pride myself a lot and you know, just making big plays, whether that's a screen, short pass, medium pass or a deep ball.”

Jayden Reed, Michigan State, 5-11, 187, 4.45

Summary: He has a highlight film of contested catches and is a certified return specialist. A good Senior Bowl helped rebound him from a setback final season. He wore dark glasses at the Combine to protect an infected eye.

Combine quote: “They’ll never have to question [my] effort. I’ll always be there. I’ll always give 110 percent every day. I just believe I’m going to be a very coachable player that’s going to play hard for my team and do whatever it takes to win.”

Trey Palmer, Nebraska, 6-0, 192, 4.33

Summary: The former LSU teammate of Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase transferred to Nebraska and set school receiving records with 71 receptions for 1,043 yards, and had nine touchdowns.

Combine quote: “[I’m] a play-making person. I'm just a dog, and versatile.” 

Kayshon Boutte, Louisiana State, 5-11, 195, 4.50

Summary: Projected for big things as a sophomore, his career at LSU plummeted over time and he followed with a disappointing Combine. It didn’t diminish his confidence, however.

Combine quote: “I feel like I can have an instant impact in the NFL, because I honestly feel like nobody can guard me. Like I say, it has a lot to do with my speed and my route-running.”