Cleveland Browns betting on Jerry Jeudy's potential

Jerry Jeudy could fit well as a deep threat for Deshaun Watson. Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire

BEREA, Ohio -- The Denver Broncos gave up on wide receiver Jerry Jeudy. But the Cleveland Browns still see potential in the 2020 first-round pick. Possibly even that of a future No. 1 receiver.

On Saturday, the Browns finally landed Jeudy in a trade with the Broncos after a year of pursuing him. The Browns tried to trade for Jeudy last offseason, then circled back again before the trade deadline during the season. The asking price for Jeudy significantly declined as Denver tumbled into a rebuild with the benching then release of quarterback Russell Wilson. Cleveland had to give up only a 2024 fifth- and sixth-round pick in the deal for Jeudy.

The Browns are banking that buying low could pay off similarly to a move the franchise made for a receiver just two years ago. In the 2021 offseason, Cleveland surrendered a mere fifth-round selection to pry wide receiver Amari Cooper away from the salary cap-strapped Dallas Cowboys. Cooper had fallen out of favor in Dallas as his production slowly waned.

Cooper, however, bounced back in a big way in Cleveland to become the first Browns receiver ever to post back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons. This past year, Cooper earned Pro Bowl honors, playing a major role in Cleveland's return trip to the postseason.

Now, Cooper, 29, will have a new No. 2 receiver beside him in Jeudy, 24, who the Browns are hoping can still eventually develop into the No. 1 receiver himself despite the up-and-down tenure in Denver.

In the meantime, Jeudy should give the Browns the legitimate deep threat they've been craving for quarterback Deshaun Watson, who can and wants to throw the ball deep.

Jeudy comes to Cleveland with 15 career receptions of 40 yards or more, which is tied for ninth most since he entered the league in 2020, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Despite averaging a career worst 3.4 receptions per game -- and failing to record a single 100-yard game -- last season, Jeudy still averaged 6.0 yards after the catch per reception, which also ranked ninth in the league among qualifying receivers.

Jeudy is still searching for his first 1,000-yard or 70-reception season. But there's reason to believe the former 15th overall pick could ultimately get there with the Browns.

Last season, Jeudy ranked ninth in the league with an average target separation of 3.64 yards per target, according to Next Gen Stats. He was also sixth with 26.7% of his targets coming when he had created at least 5 yards of separation when the pass arrived.

In other words, Jeudy can get open.

Next season, he'll be operating alongside a pair of Pro Bowl performers in Cooper and tight end David Njoku, who will remain the top two options for now.

Of course, Jeudy must turn his ability to get open into actual production. But he has proved he can make plays after the catch. And with opposing defenses focused on containing Cooper and Njoku, Jeudy should get plenty of favorable matchups.

To become a true Super Bowl contender, the Browns obviously need Watson to play with much more precision and consistency. But now, Watson will have yet another weapon to turn to who can deliver chunk plays.

And, if all goes well, a potential future go-to receiver, as well.