The Cleveland Browns elected not to draft a wide receiver despite issues surrounding Josh Gordon and Nate Burleson.


BEREA, Ohio -- Prior to the start of the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft on Friday night, two separate ESPN reports called into question the status of Cleveland Browns wide receivers Josh Gordon and Nate Burleson.

According to ESPN's "Outside the Lines," Gordon failed a drug test, which could result in a year-long suspension because of another failed test during the 2013 offseason. Later, it was revealed that Burleson suffered a broken arm in a voluntary mini-camp practice and will be out for the remainder of the offseason.

Even with the knowledge of Gordon and Burleson's reported issues, the Browns elected not to draft a wide receiver.

"Patience really tells the tale," Browns general manager Ray Farmer said. "There's plenty of opportunity for us to address what everybody would believe is a need, but in our opinion, there's plenty of opportunities to add players, to change the roster, and really make a difference. The vast majority of the (Seahawks') guys were not drafted. There's definitely an opportunity to play with and identify talented players that can help your football team.

"I know it's frustrating for a lot of people not to have information, and it seems like we're somehow avoiding the topic, but the reality is, to some degree, my hands are tied with what I can say. There's nothing I can contribute to this conversation other than, 'I have no comment' or 'I will add clarity when there is clarity.'"

Farmer said the frustration of the fans "is a natural part" of news regarding a suspension for a wide receiver in Gordon, who, last season, led the NFL with 1,646 receiving yards, yards-per-game average, longest reception, and longest touchdown catch, in addition to becoming the first player in league history to have back-to-back 200-yard receiving games and the highest two, three and four-game receiving yardage totals ever.

"I think that's what was felt and heard when that announcement was made," Farmer said. "I don't fault the fans for their reaction. I don't fault anyone for being disappointed. To that end, it's our job to make those decisions less painful.

"It's no different than if a player was going out during the offseason and broke an ankle or tore an ACL playing pick-up hoops or doing something different. We have to build a football team regardless of who's missing. That's the charge that we have. That's my job. That's Coach (Mike) Pettine's job, to prepare this football team to win games regardless of who's missing."

Should Gordon be suspended and Burleson not be at 100 percent for the start of training camp, the Browns could rely on fourth-year wide receiver Greg Little, who led the team in receptions in each of his first two NFL seasons.

Little caught 61 passes, which he turned into 709 yards and two touchdowns during his rookie year in 2011, and followed it up with 53 catches for 647 yards and four scores in 2012.

Despite Gordon's record-setting season and the emergence of tight end Jordan Cameron in 2013, Little still caught 41 passes, gained 465 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns.

"The young man's talented," Farmer said of Little. "The question mark would then fall onto can he be consistent and do the things that he has physically demonstrated he can do at times? If he continues to do those things and add a level of consistency, the difference between being good and great is consistent.

"That's really the difference. If a guy shows you he can do anything, he shows you he can jump up and make the one-handed catch, he shows you he can break a tackle? The question is, can he repeatedly do that, and that's the difference between being average or marginal and good and great."

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