Friday, July 27, 2012

Gordon: a boom-or-bust chance worth taking

The development of the new Browns offense will be the most fascinating storyline to follow this summer and fall. Any time you draft seven guys on that side of the ball -- including a starting quarterback and a runner hyped as the best such prospect in half a decade -- and bring in an experienced offensive coordinator, it's clear where the emphasis lies, with good reason.

The exclamation point on this off-season push came in the form of Josh Gordon, the receiver chosen in the supplemental draft with next year's second-round pick. Big and fast, he's a potential #1 wideout, a need position addressed in April only in a small way with fourth-round burner Travis Benjamin and undrafted slot candidate Josh Cooper.

Gordon's late addition may be the first symptom of the recurrence of the Curse of #80, the jersey number Benjamin was unfortunately assigned.

But Gordon's potential ceiling is not the only high he's had. Three times he's tested positive for pot. It's clearly not the deal-breaker it used to be for college kids to get caught with what's really a far less dangerous drug than alcohol, in terms of both addiction and acute toxicity.

However, Gordon's repeated use, even after having to miss a year by transferring from Baylor to Utah, raises the red flag as to his maturity and self-discipline, given that his recreational choices carry steeper career consequences than for, say, a sociology or music major.

The Browns assert faith in their due diligence, and I support their choice. For one thing, gaining a player's services a year in advance of his draft cost effectively makes him a better draft value than a conventional second-rounder.

And I'd be much leerier had his offenses posed more danger to himself or society, be that drunk driving, performance-enhancers, weapons charges, or barroom brawls.

So Gordon joins the Browns as an especially high-risk, high-reward guy. He could light it up as a downfield playmaker. Or he could light it up and find himself suspended or worse. Browns fans can only hope for the best and enjoy watching his on-field talents take shape. Which way he goes will have as much influence on the Browns' record in 2012 and beyond as anyone else on this rapidly revamped roster.

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