Remember Breshad Perriman? The first-round wide receiver that the Baltimore Ravens tried to make happen a few years back who turned out to be a bust? Well now the Cleveland Browns are starting to try to get something out of him, after they’ve dished out some of their own high draft picks at the position, trading away first-rounder Corey Coleman and second-rounder Josh Gordon.
The Browns signed Perriman in the middle of October, and since then he has played about 20 snaps per game on average. He has caught 10 passes on the season for 188 yards, and he was finally able to hit on the sort of play he was drafted for this past Sunday in Cleveland’s win over the Carolina Panthers.
The fourth-year veteran and Baker Mayfield were able to make good on a 66-yard connection in that game, making it the longest reception that he has had in his career, longer by 13 yards than his previous best. His longest reception in all of 2017, in fact, was just 14 yards.
Perriman rapidly fell out of favor in Baltimore last year and even became a healthy scratch, dressing in only 11 games. He caught just 10 passes for 77 yards. While his own performance obviously played a major role in that happening, including some drops, the Ravens also never had the offense to best utilize him.
The team decided to go in a completely different direction this year, choosing to part with or not re-sign almost all of their wide receivers from last season, the only exception being Chris Moore. They went from Mike Wallace, Jeremy Maclin, and Michael Campanaro to John Brown, Michael Crabtree, and Willie Snead, all three of whom they signed in free agency.
Perriman, it is worth noting, was targeted a stunning 35 times last season for his 10 receptions, which is obviously an astoundingly bad catch percentage, but according to Pro Football Focus, ‘only’ four of them were drops. That means 21 of his 35 targets were off the mark from Joe Flacco.
This season, he has been targeted just 15 times for his 10 receptions and has not had a drop yet. Eight of his 10 receptions have gone for first downs, and he has generally graded out favorably throughout the season so far while averaging 5.1 yards after the catch per reception.
If Perriman can be the deep threat complement to more possession-oriented wide receivers such as Jarvis Landry and Antonio Callaway, then he would add an important component to a Browns offense that with Mayfield is actually looking as though it can make use of the entire fire, something Flacco could never do.
Perriman isn’t about to suddenly live up to his first-round billing, but right now he’s looking at possibly turning this one-year stint into a longer stay in a Cleveland team that may finally actually be on the rise of practically decades of false starts.