BEREA, Ohio -- The brass wants more bang for the bucks paid to last year’s draft picks who rusted as rookies.
The brass wants more bang for the bucks paid to last year’s draft picks who rusted as rookies.
Lacking depth at wide receiver, 2006 third-round pick Travis Wilson has been a special project.
As camp opened, bushels of footballs sailed Wilson’s way.
As camp closed, Wilson was nothing special. Too many drops. Not enough energy.
Coordinator Rob Chudzinski got fed up recently when Wilson beat his man but didn’t go hard enough after a deep ball.
“C’mon, Travis,” Chudzinski barked. “Make a play! To-o-o-day!”
After a no-catch, one-drop night at Denver, No. 1 wideout Braylon Edwards held court with writers. Wilson stared at the wall nearby, turned a round for a moment looking glum and turned back to the wall.
Early in a Monday practice, Wilson wasn’t all there. During an otherwise competitive cornerback vs. wideout drill, Derek Anderson launched a deep sideline throw. Wilson never looked back, not even after the ball landed.
There was no excuse. He was the only wideout on the field.
Wilson’s practice got worse. Writers looked at each other. “What’s up with him?”
Something woke him up. Near the end of the session, he made two great catches, muscling the ball out of a crowd, then lunging in traffic to make a shoestring catch.
“That’s a beautiful thing,” receivers coach Wes Chandler yelled.
“I love it! I love it!” hollered Mel Tucker, whose defensive backs haven’t had enough trouble with Wilson.
The session ended. Anderson weaved through two dozen teammates and sought out No. 81.
“Travis,” Anderson said, “great work.”
Head Coach Romeo Crennel was impressed — to a point. Crennel exited the practice harping on consistency.
“He dropped one, caught one and, at the end, he made two good catches,” Crennel said. “He shows some ability, and you want to work with him.”
It’s unfair to criticize a draft too early. For now, though, the Wilson pick doesn’t look good, especially because the Browns needed a running back and passed on Jerious Norwood.
Cleveland picked Wilson at No. 78 overall in April. He didn’t catch a pass until December. His total for 2006 was two.
The Falcons pounced on Norwood one pick after Cleveland tapped Wilson. Norwood got 99 carries in support of Warrick Dunn. His per-carry average was a fat 6.4.
Wilson will make the team based on upside. Rookie Round 7 pick Syndric Steptoe, much shorter but with better quickness, had a better camp, showing a knack for catching balls in tight spots.
“That’s where (Steptoe) has surprised me the most,” Crennel said. “He’s made some tough catches.”
“Patience,” Crennel said.
Wilson comes off as a pleasant enough young man, but he leaves you wondering if he has the mean streak required to handle NFL violence. You wonder, too, was his ability overrated?
Here’s the quandary: Is it worth developing him when the games get real?
Two men are ahead of Wilson for the No. 3 wideout job. One is Joshua Cribbs, a scrapper with classic football mentality. The other is Tim Carter, the fastest man on the team.
Wilson will get a heavy workload Thursday at Chicago. It would be bad for him — and for the team — if he keeps dropping the ball.
Reach Repository sports writer Steve Doerschuk at (330) 580-8347 or email@example.com.