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Draft day is here.
For Browns fans, unfortunately, it’s been the most anticipated day of the year for far too many seasons. The new regime with Joe Banner calling the shots will start to unfold as the draft process plays out. The free agency period tipped their hand as to what Banner, Mike Lombardi and Rob Chudzinski thought of the team they inherited.
Some of the moves were obvious with the team switching to a 3-4 and adding outside linebackers Paul Kruger and Quentin Groves and defensive lineman Desmond Bryant. They added a couple of tight ends in Kellen Davis and Gary Barnidge, but neither is expected to be the second coming of Antonio Gates.
The only cornerbacks the team added were Chris Owens and Kevin Barnes, who seem to be suited as slot cornerbacks. Neither appears to be players who can start opposite of Joe Haden.
Jason Campbell was added to compete with Brandon Weeden, but he isn’t expected to be the long-term answer.
Last year, the Browns had 26 players of the 53 man roster in their rookie or second-year season. They made the determination to get even younger and thus far have let all of the 18 unrestricted free agents leave. Many of those players were near the age of 30 or older. Currently, there are only two players under contract who are over the age of 30, Campbell (31) and kicker Shayne Graham (35). Both players were signed as unrestricted free agents.
The Browns were 5-11 for a reason, but even Banner admitted he inherited a core of good, young players. The Browns need to come out of the 2013 draft with at least two players who can start immediately, if not three. I feel they need a starting cornerback, free safety, inside/outside linebacker and possibly a tight end or guard.
Obviously, they can’t address all of their needs in this draft, but if they can be prudent with their selections they should be able to find some players that will help immediately.
Here are my thoughts on what I feel the Browns should do to address their needs.
Coming out of the pre draft meeting with Banner and Lombardi, I feel the Browns first priority is to trade down and acquire more picks, especially a second-round selection. However, there are several teams reportedly trying to do the same thing, so they might not be able to pull it off.
Here are a couple of scenarios I would be happy with. If they keep their pick at sixth overall, I feel they need to address the cornerback position. Dee Milliner, despite having five surgeries, is a player that can be plugged in immediately opposite of Haden and would solve a major problem.
However, if Dion Jordan or Ziggy Ansah are there, I would be fine with either of those picks as pass rushers are like pitchers in baseball-you never have too many of them.
In past years the Browns have traded down in the first round and added players like Alex Mack and Phil Taylor, but I think it’s time they add a blue chip difference maker if they have the chance.
If they don’t acquire a cornerback with their first pick and can’t get a second-round pick, they need to get the best cornerback available in the third-round.
However, if the Browns can move down a few picks in the first-round and acquire Xavier Rhoades, D.J. Hayden, Desmond Trufant or Johnthan Banks along with another pick, they can address two positions. They might be able to get safety Jonathan Cyprien or Matt Elam in the second-round at safety or Zach Ertz or Vance McDonald at tight end with that pick.
I haven’t talked about the possibility of selecting a quarterback up until now. Many of the national writers have the Browns taking Geno Smith with the sixth-pick. To me, it is more likely if they were to trade down to use the first-round pick to take Smith or use the extra pick to take E.J. Manuel. I would much rather see the Browns let Weeden play this season and if they are going to select a quarterback take a Matt Scott, Zac Dysert or Tyler Bray in the middle rounds.
The Browns can address wide receiver, offensive line and inside linebacker in the middle rounds.
Whatever happens, we’ll soon know what Banner, Lombardi and company are really thinking—but then again, whatever happens, they will say that is the player(s) they wanted all along.