Seen as a glaring area of need, wideout is often called out by Farmer as a position not nearly as important as everyone makes it out to be. This was hammered home last year when, despite knowing star Josh Gordon could be suspended for the entire season, Farmer chose not to draft a single receiver.
However, Farmer finally buckled during the final day of this spring’s draft, selecting former Washington State wideout Vince Mayle. Though not nearly as prolific as Amari Cooper or Nelson Agholor, Mayle did bring his fair share of potential.
The problem, it seemed, was Mayle’s significant problem with the “dropsies.” Mayle dropped 13 passes last season at Washington State, and his thumb surgery this summer certainly had people fearing this issue would only get worse.
Well, midway through the preseason, those worries are still legitimate. Mayle has struggled to really turn any heads, and on a Browns team dying to have someone step up at wideout, he’s leaving a lot to be desired.
During the final minutes of last week’s preseason game against the Buffalo Bills, Cleveland was trying to put together a game-winning drive. Down 11-10 and facing fourth down, quarterback Johnny Manziel threw what looked like a first down pass. Unfortunately, the ball hit Mayle’s hands, then tumbled to the ground, essentially ending the game.
Based on who you ask, this is a pretty solid summary of Mayle’s camp so far.
Mayle has truly struggled to make a significant impact, both in practice and during the preseason. While reports have surfaced talking about the successful camps of receivers like Travis Benjamin and Taylor Gabriel, Mayle is often a footnote at best. Even worse, undrafted free agents like Josh Lenz and Shane Wynn seem to be getting much more press, as well.
It isn’t as if Mayle is lacking in physical tools. At 6’2″ and 224 lbs, Mayle certainly has the kind of size the Browns severely lacked in their receiving corps last year. Of course, if you can’t catch, size doesn’t seem to matter.
Unfortunately, this appears to be the trend when it comes to wideouts drafted by the Browns. Mayle falls into the same camp as Greg Little and Braylon Edwards; receivers who Cleveland drafts high, but also have trouble holding onto the ball. This routine spans across multiple regimes, so it’s tough to explain the franchise’s obsession of drafting receivers with bad hands.
But, will Mayle’s issues result in him being cut?
It’s tough to say. The team invested a fourth-round pick in him, which doesn’t exactly seem like a huge investment, but also helps Mayle stand out when comparing him to undrafted free agents signed off the street. Compared to Wynn and Lenz, Mayle has better size, which also helps him out as well.
Again, though, his job is to catch the ball. Right now, he’s struggling to do his job.
This all may seem like a bit of an overreaction. After all, the Browns didn’t draft Mayle with the hopes he’d become their No. 1 receiver. His struggles aren’t going to make a huge impact on the offense as a whole.
However, Cleveland did make an investment in Mayle, and is eventually going to need more from him than what’s being seen. Physical tools and upside can only get you so far in the NFL.
The bottom line is the Browns are in dire need of offensive weapons, and right now, Mayle is anything but.