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Published: Tuesday, 5/2/2006

Browns get best receiver in draft - just ask him

BEREA, Ohio - Say this much for Travis Wilson - he doesn't lack confidence.

The Oklahoma Sooner insists he was the best receiver available in the recently concluded NFL draft. That response drew more than a few chuckles.

There's no way Wilson is better than first-round pick Santonio Holmes or second-rounder Chad Jackson.

How else do you explain him lasting until the third round, when the Cleveland Browns selected him at No. 78?

Wilson proved to be a solid receiver for the Sooners as a junior, snagging 50 balls and 11 touchdown passes.

Wilson Wilson
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But as a senior, he missed a handful of games with a stress fracture and had a screw inserted in his injured foot late in the season. He finished the year with half as many catches (25) and 10 fewer touchdown catches (one).

Naturally, Wilson's stock plummeted. He may be an athletic receiver, but he has been labeled a marginal route runner who is not much of a deep threat.

Those criticisms anger Wilson, who still could find himself starting for the Browns come September.

The man Wilson probably will replace in the lineup was the best receiver in last year's draft - Braylon Edwards.

Edwards, the No. 3 overall pick from Michigan in 2005, had surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament on Jan. 3.

He's not expected to return until October or November.

"If Braylon doesn't make it on the field [right away], Travis will be playing," coach Romeo Crennel said.

Wilson, the sixth receiver taken overall in the draft, is looking forward to proving his doubters wrong this weekend at rookie minicamp and again during training camp three months from now.

Look for Wilson, who the Browns hope can recapture his form of 2004, to start opposite free-agent acquisition Joe Jurevicius in the Sept. 10 opener against Reggie Bush and the New Orleans Saints, with veteran Dennis Northcutt serving as the third wideout.

"What better news than that?" Wilson said. "Most rookies take time to grow. To have an opportunity to come in here and play early, it's just an honor, and I love it. I'm up for the challenge.

"There aren't receivers that are much faster than me. I can make the big play."

Wilson might have the size to go up over smaller defensive backs to make catches, but he will not be able to match Edwards' flamboyance or his playmaking skills.

"I know what he is capable of doing. He has all the ability in the world. When he comes back 100 percent, I can back him up. I'm there to make the team better. I'm there to do that and make the most of the plays that come to me."

Once Edwards comes back, the Browns will be able to let Wilson develop at a much slower pace, like they did last year with two of his former Oklahoma teammates - safety Brodney Pool (second-round pick) and cornerback Antonio Perkins (fourth round).

"I know what kind of level those guys are at, so I know what type of players the Cleveland Browns pick," Wilson said. "I know they pick the best of the best. As far as I'm concerned, they hold their own and I'm going to hold my own."

The Browns have all the confidence in the world that Wilson will help make them better.



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