Predicting Josh Gordon’s production for the Browns in 2012

The 2012 NFL Supplemental Draft came and went, and Josh Gordon was the only available prospect that found himself a new home.

Despite some lingering question marks, the Cleveland Browns saw enough in Gordon to spend a second-round pick on the former Baylor Bears wide receiver. But are the Browns getting what they paid for?

There’s plenty of skepticism about Gordon’s ability to be an early contributor, but the tools and potential are there. He possesses great size (6’3’’, 224), considerable speed (4.52 40-yard dash with a pulled quad) and hands capable of catching just about everything that comes his direction.

Even with Greg Little emerging as a legitimate starting wide receiver, the Browns’ receiving corps is strewn with inconsistency. Mohamed Massaquoi is reliable, but has yet to prove that he can be a No. 1 target in the NFL. Josh Cribbs is suited for the slot and will strictly fill that role for the Browns this upcoming season. Rookie fourth-rounder Travis Benjamin has plenty of speed, but is a work in progress.

Put simply, the Browns need an impact wide receiver and that’s why they paid such a hefty price to get the talented-yet-raw Gordon.

So what should the Browns be expecting from Gordon in 2012? Here’s my prediction for Cleveland’s newest pass-catcher:

In the way of catches, expect Gordon to come down with about 25 passes in 2012. It’s not that he doesn’t have the talent to immediately play, but he’s extremely raw and hasn’t seen the field since 2010. With a year away from the game, limited experience and a shortened offseason with the team, it’s going to take a while before Gordon’s ready to run routes on Sundays. Once he finally cracks the lineup (which he will), Gordon shouldn’t have too much trouble snagging a few balls every game.

As for yards, the expectations will be high but should fall in the vicinity of 450. Even though I’m only expecting him to have 20-30 receptions, Gordon is a big-play threat who will boast a big yards-per-catch average by season’s end. Twenty-five catches for 450 yards (or 18 yards per catch) sounds about right for the former Baylor sparkplug.

The final question concerns touchdowns, which we all know the Browns will need plenty more of from the passing game this season. Considering that Gordon is seen as a big-play guy and has potential as a red zone receiver due to his height, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that he pulls down five touchdowns in 2012. Whether they’re long bombs down the sideline or jump balls in the corner of the endzone, Gordon will find a way to hit pay dirt several times.

This is a promising marriage between Gordon and Browns. Disappointment is still a possibility, though, if development is slower than expected. Either way, Cleveland better be hoping that their gamble pays off or they’ll be kicking themselves when the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft rolls around.

Follow Gil Alcaraz IV on Twitter.

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