Josh Gordon arrived at training camp out of shape, unfamiliar with the Browns’ playbook and saddled with personal baggage from a troubled college career.
Another lost rookie, Gordon was way behind.
He’s caught up.
“He’s our top receiver right now,” linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said.
With a long, elegant stride and deceiving speed, the 21-year-old Gordon has emerged as Cleveland’s biggest deep threat, perhaps the club’s best playmaker and maybe the end of the Browns’ search for a bonafide No. 1 wide receiver, something they haven’t had in years.
Gordon, blessed with enormous talent, is the whole package.
“He’s big and he’s fast and he can catch,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said.
Gordon had the best game of his brief career last Sunday, catching six passes for 116 yards and one touchdown as the Browns ended a 12-game road losing streak with a 20-17 victory over the Oakland Raiders. It was a breakout performance for Gordon, who was taken in the second round of the NFL’s supplemental draft in July by the Browns, who were criticized for a selection many considered too risky.
Gordon, though, has made general manager Tom Heckert’s gamble pay off.
The Browns haven’t had a receiver with comparable, game-breaking skills to Gordon since Braylon Edwards, who had 16 TD receptions in 2007 but then tailed off quickly and was eventually traded. Gordon has five TDs this season, the most by a Browns rookie since Andre’ Davis in 2002.
And he’s hungry for more.
“He’s starting to get a feel for what he can do,” Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden said. “The sky is the limit for that guy. He’s talented, he’s tall, he’s long, he’s fast. He can catch the ball well. He does all the things you would want.
“I’m glad he’s on our side.”
While Gordon was the subject of many conversations inside the Browns’ facility and locker room this week, the 6-foot-3, 225-pounder kept a low profile. That’s how it’s been since he was drafted by Cleveland, which forfeited a second-round pick in 2013 to get him.