Hawkins believes in Browns' talent

When it came to signing an offer sheet with the Cleveland Browns, it was an easy decision for their newest wide receiver, Andrew Hawkins.

As a restricted free agent, Hawkins signed the offer sheet and his former team, the Cincinnati Bengals, had five days to match it. They didn't, and it allowed Hawkins to join what he felt was a talented group of players and hopefully, be a part of a turnaround as he had been in Cincinnati.

"I think the roster is extremely talented," Hawkins said recently. "That's something we actually talked about in Cincinnati numerous times, watching them on film and playing against them. They have a lot of young talent, so it's one of those things. If you could put it together, that's how the NFL works.

"I remember in Cincinnati, we were supposed to be dead last in 2011, and we were able to go in there and have a pretty solid season. I just want to come in here and contribute as best I can. With some of the free-agent moves and some of the players they brought in, they're extremely talented players by all accounts. I'm excited about be a part of it."

And wide receiver Josh Gordon was one of those talented players Hawkins noticed while studying film of the Browns.

In only 14 games because of a league-mandated suspension for a failed drug test, Gordon had a league-leading, and team record, 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns on 87 receptions. He had the longest reception and longest touchdown catch of anybody in the NFL when he turned a short pass into a 95-yard score against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Dec. 1.

"You can't have a season like Josh had and not put him in that conversation," Hawkins said of "elite" wide receivers. "That was special, in 14 games, what he was able to do. We would talk about it on a weekly basis. Obviously, (Bengals receiver) A.J. (Green) is an incredible receiver, and Josh, I would say he's up there."

When it comes to making plays, Hawkins knows what he is talking about.

In his three-year career with the Bengals, the former University of Toledo Rocket gained 995 yards and scored four touchdowns on 86 receptions. He added 58 yards on 13 rushing attempts, and averaged 11.6 yards per reception.

Hawkins' best season came in 2012, when he caught 51 passes for 533 yards and four touchdowns.

"That's kind of how I made my hay, to be able to create plays, take small passes for long distances," Hawkins said. "That's something I'm going to continue to build on and even continue to get better at. Hopefully, I'll be able to bring that to the table in Cleveland.

"I come in, I go to work and I imagine these guys are the same way. I know a couple of them off the field, and I think it will be a good fit. I'm excited to get to work with those guys because they're a super talented bunch."


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