The Cleveland Browns began the 2021 season with one of the most talented wide receiver groups in the NFL.
Odell Beckham Jr. was set to return from injury.
Jarvis Landry, Donovan Peoples-Jones, newcomer Anthony Schwartz and a host of others looked primed to bring a championship to Cleveland.
Four months later, OBJ has departed for the bright lights of Los Angeles and the Browns are barely above .500.
Landry, after missing time with injuries, has 38 receptions and one receiving touchdown.
The receiving group as a whole has struggled in ‘21 with inconsistency and quarterback Baker Mayfield’s ongoing health and performance issues.
As of now, Landry is not guaranteed to return in 2022.
Neither is Rashard Higgins.
That leaves Schwartz, fellow rookie Demetric Felton, and Peoples-Jones as the primary receivers for the Browns next season.
Barring the possible trade of a comparable receiver for Landry, Cleveland will need to address the position first and foremost in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Todd McShay’s Pick
On Tuesday, ESPN’s Todd McShay posted his NFL Mock Draft 1.0.
In the first round, McShay has the Browns selecting USC receiver Drake London at number 18.
ESPN analyst Todd McShay has released the first edition of his 2022 NFL Mock Draft (Round 1). What do y’all think? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/02CgQqMsI0
— College Football News (@cfbtalksonig) December 14, 2021
For the first three months of 2021, London was embarking on one of the best college receiving seasons in history.
Then, during a game against the University of Arizona in late October, London fractured his ankle, sidelining him for the remainder of the year.
Before the Arizona game, London had 88 receptions (yes, you read that correctly), ranked second in the nation in total receiving yards and yards per game and had seven touchdowns.
Despite the setback, London is expected to be ready for the fall.
McShay mentioned London’s injury in his assessment of the USC star playing for the Browns.
“This is a steal. London had 130-plus receiving yards in six of eight games this season, and his 88 catches rank 12th in the nation — despite the fact a fractured right ankle has kept him out since October. He can line up all over, threaten defenses with vertical speed, find his way open and come down with contested catches. The Browns’ 59.0% completion percentage when targeting wide receivers is 28th in the NFL, and they have to get Baker Mayfield a playmaker to catch the pass game up to the run game’s prowess a bit,” McShay said.
It should be mentioned that London is 6’5” and 210 pounds.
Drake London juking defenders, breaking tacklers to the house! 🤯 pic.twitter.com/O5tlfMK3kr
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) December 13, 2020
He is also a junior and could have returned to USC next year.
However, London officially announced last week that he is forgoing his senior year to enter the draft.
The 2022 NFL Draft class for receivers is one of the strongest in recent memory.
If the Browns pass on London, there are a host of other receivers the team could target that will be ready to play on day one.