The Browns moved up from the 114th overall selection to the 105th overall selection in the fourth round to select wide receiver Antonio Callaway. Cleveland also traded the the 178th overall selection to move up.
The former Florida Gator is one of the most talented receivers in this year’s draft. But there are many, emphasis on many, off-field concerns with Callaway. In 2015, he was the target of a sexual assault allegation and was suspended for Florida’s spring game practices in 2016. However, he was found “not responsible” in the incident and was cleared of any charges.
In 2017, Callaway was suspended for the entire season because of his involvement in a credit card fraud scheme, but the felony charges were dropped after a plea deal was agreed upon. In May of last year, he also received a citation for the possession of marijuana while he was in the company of a known criminal. It was also revealed on Tuesday that Callaway had a diluted drug test sample at the NFL Combine, which is treated as a positive test result. Callaway admitted that he smoked marijuana weeks before the combine.
Callaway was interviewed by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport about the drug test result.
“The main thing is, I take responsibility for everything I caused on myself, the things that could’ve been avoided,” Callaway said. “And the birth of my daughter, she changed my point of view on life. On everything. I’m just letting teams know I’m coming to work when I get the chance.”
Browns general manager John Dorsey has a history of drafting players with checkered pasts. While he was the general manager for the Kansas City Chiefs, he selected Marcus Peters and Tyreek Hill. Peters was dismissed from the University of Washington because of attitude issues. Hill had a past domestic violence incident on his record.
“I’m very excited to get a guy of Callaway’s talent at this stage,” Dorsey said about drafting Callaway. “Based on things that have happened, we thought 4th round is right where you get a guy like this.”
Dorsey also said that he believes the Browns have a support system in place to help him.
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On the field, Callaway could be the most talented receiver in this year’s draft. He is a quick receiver that can gain separation with his quick-twitch movements, and will not give that space back to the defensive back. Callaway also can keep his speed and momentum when changing directions, making it hard for defenders to stick with him in coverage and tackle him in space. He needs work refining his routes and has a thin frame, which could prove problematic with taking hits over the middle of the field. But overall, he is a very talented player on the field.
If Callaway can get into the building and clean up his act off the field, this could be the biggest steal in the draft. It will be interesting to see if Josh Gordon, who has had off-field issues himself, puts his arm around Callaway and tries to help him become a more reliable person off the field.
If no more off-field issues come up with Callaway, the Browns will have one of the most dynamic wide receiver groups in the NFL. Adding Callaway to a group of Gordon, Jarvis Landry, and Corey Coleman with David Njoku at tight end, first overall pick Baker Mayfield will have a talented group of weapons surrounding him for years to come.