The Cleveland Browns fans have concerns related to the Browns receiving group. Josh Gordon is probably gone for a year, Miles Austin has hamstring issues, Charles Johnson still isn’t cleared from his ACL injury and Earl Bennett is Earl Bennett. Possibly the biggest addition at receiver is the smallest, Andrew Hawkins. Hawkins, brought over from the Cincinnati Bengals, when they failed to match the offer sheet he signed with the Browns, is a prototypical slot receiver. Below is a 9 minute clip of Hawkins beating defenders, from his time with the Bengals, off the line of scrimmage. He makes them look silly:
As you can see in numerous attempts, even if you only watched for 1 minute, Hawkins can make things happen. A number of Bengal defenders are left grasping at air, on the ground or lost in coverage. Even those that stay near him, can’t stop him from getting catches. Unfortunately in the Bengals system Hawkins was rarely given an opportunity to shine. As the 4th receiver in a route Andy Dalton often went away from Hawkins.
For the Browns he will play a huge role. The routes you see run in the above video all are important in timing. If Hawkins in the 2nd or 3rd receiver Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel will have the option to hit him just as he gets separation from his defender. With the run heavy game plan expected from the Browns, Hawkins defender will have to always be peaking into the backfield, giving Baby Hawk even more opening with his precise route running.
Hawkins shows the variety of slot receiver moves that should endear him to his teammates and the Browns faithful. The ability to “win in a box” will be vital to the Browns moving the chains, getting touchdowns in the redzone and extending drives. While he won’t make up for Gordon’s absence, he can be a key player for Browns QBs along with a healthy Austin and Jordan Cameron the Browns will still be able to compete in the passing game.
Does this video excite you? Is your first thought “Wow how good could he be with Gordon on the field?”