The Browns made a calculated gamble when they drafted Antonio Callaway. They believe it’s set to pay off in a big way for them in 2018.
It’s very possible the Cleveland Browns are developing a taste for a specific type of wide receiver. The presence of Josh Gordon and Antonio Callaway on the same roster makes it obvious that Cleveland isn’t averse to taking chances on troubled wideouts. The team’s recent depth chart makes it clear they believe their investment in Callaway is going to pay off in a big way.
The team currently lists Callaway and Jarvis Landry as its starting receivers. Landry was obviously going to start given the big-money contract the Browns handed him this offseason. The announcement that their fourth-round pick from the 2018 Draft is the other starter is a much bigger surprise.
There’s never been a question about Callaway’s talent level. When you put on tape of him at Florida you see the type of receiver who easily could have earned a first round grade. Instead, it has been off the field issues that have plagued him. That’s the reason such a talented receiver was available for the Browns in round number four.
Evidently his behavior as a professional has quelled any fears the Browns had about his off the field baggage. First, the team jettisoned Corey Coleman to Buffalo for a seventh round pick this week. That move as the first indication that Hue Jackson and company were willing to put more responsibility in Callaway’s hands.
The decision to list him as a starter so early in the preseason still is surprising. The conservative approach would have been to list him as a backup to keep the pressure off of him for the time being. It also could have served to keep some pressure on him to keep up his good play and positive behavior. At the very least, it will be interesting to see how he responds to being named as a starter.
Ironically, Callaway still might lose his place in the starting lineup if Gordon returns to the practice field anytime soon. The team remains adamant that Gordon will be back in time to contribute once the regular season begins. He’s not going to start over Landry which would make Callaway the odd man out.
Even if Callaway isn’t a starter Week 1, the fact that he’s in that position now is a clear sign the Browns are big believers in his ability to contribute as a rookie. That would represent an excellent return for a rookie receiver selected in the fourth round.