LAST SEASON Rush Offense - 132.7 ypg (8th)
Pass Offense - 239.4 ypg (11th)
Total Offense - 372.1 ypg (7th)
Scoring Offense - 26.0 ppg (8th)
Rush Defense - 97.5 ypg (7th)
Pass Defense - 225.8 ypg (16th)
Total Defense - 323.2 ypg (7th)
Scoring Defense - 20.7 ppg (10th) MOST PRESSING NEEDS Offense: Guard, solution at quarterback, another pass-catching option
Defense: Defensive end, outside linebacker and secondary depth
QUARTERBACK The Draft Board
1st round Geno Smith, West Virginia (6-3, 214) 2nd round EJ Manuel, Florida St. (6-4, 237) 3rd round Tyler Bray, Tennessee (6-6, 212) 5th round Zac Dysert, Miami, OH (6-2, 224)
Landry Jones, Oklahoma (6-3, 221)
Matt Scott, Arizona (6-2, 199) 6th round Collin Klein, Kansas St. (6-5, 226)
When Brandon Weeden said he expects competition at the quarterback position in 2013, well, we'll take the man at his word. Weeden threw for nearly 3,400 yards, but had 17 interceptions to just 14 touchdowns. As with any quarterback, it wasn't all his fault, but his troubles were magnified as RGIII, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson and even Ryan Tannehill showed more than just promise as first-year NFL starters.
With a new head coach on board in former Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, and a new offensive coordinator in Norv Turner, Weeden will again be under the microscope as he fights off challengers to his starting position. If the Browns take aim at a quarterback with the sixth spot, the future is clear.
It's hard to imagine a quarterback like Geno Smith failing. Teams will love his passion for the game and that's horrible news for the Browns sitting at No. 6 if indeed they've targeted him. With the Chiefs, Jaguars and Raiders in front of the Browns, Smith could be long gone or he'll be a gift that falls into the Browns' laps early in the first round. EJ Manuel has won the offseason thus far with a great Senior Bowl week. Plus, he should shine at the Combine in Indy, but inconsistent film from his senior season will keep him out of the first round. That said, if Manuel is there at the bottom of the second round, he might be worth moving up a few spots to get him and let him learn behind Weeden for the time being.
RUNNING BACK The Draft Board
5th round Kenjon Barner, Oregon (5-9, 188)
Theo Riddick, Notre Dame (5-11, 200)
Robbie Rouse, Fresno St. (5-5, 186) 6th round Ray Graham, Pitt (5-9, 195)
Zac Stacy, Vanderbilt (5-9, 210)
Dennis Johnson, Arkansas (5-8, 212)
The Browns drafted Trent Richardson last year and he should be the future of the organization for the next six-to-eight years. He had a few explosive moments in his rookie campaign, but struggled to show his full potential, averaging 3.6 yards per carry. The Browns have been waiting for Montario Hardesty to be a productive back and it just hasn't happened like they hoped. The good news for Hardesty is he's relatively cheap ($575k in a contract year), so maybe THIS is the year for him. I'd expect the Browns to give Hardesty every chance to be Richardson's complementary back, but they'll probably hedge that risk looking at a multi-purpose back in the later rounds of the draft.
Kenjon Barner and Theo Riddick may never be every-down, No. 1 running backs in the NFL, but they can line up in a number of different spots on the field and catch the ball well out of the backfield. They'll even be able to return kicks, which becomes a must if Josh Cribbs departs for good.
WIDE RECEIVER The Draft Board
4th round Markus Wheaton, Oregon St. (5-11, 183)
Ace Sanders, South Carolina (5-8, 176) 5th round Denard Robinson, Michigan (5-11, 196)
Connor Vernon, Duke (6-0, 193)
The Browns gave up their second round selection in this draft so they could select Josh Gordon in the second round of last year's supplemental draft. That decision paid dividends as Gordon became one of Weeden's top targets and led the team in receiving yards. As it sits today, the depth behind Gordon and Greg Little is questionable at best. Mohamed Massaquoi and Josh Cribbs are unrestricted free agents and Travis Benjamin isn't consistent enough running routes and catching the football to be a rock solid No. 3 receiver. There is a ton of depth throughout this draft at this position and the Browns should target a pass catcher in or around the fifth round.
I have a second/third round grade on Markus Wheaton, but he may get pushed down the draft board because of the immense depth at WR this year. He can fly and would be a different type of weapon for the Browns. Ace Sanders is going to be a gem of a slot receiver who'll also make plays on special teams immediately. Denard Robinson shouldn't be listed at any one position. He's not a receiver, running back or quarterback. But, when he has his hands on the ball, he's dangerous.
TIGHT ENDS The Draft Board
4th round Gavin Escobar, San Diego St. (6-6, 255) 5th round Chris Gragg, Arkansas (6-3, 236) 6th roundMychal Rivera, Tennessee (6-3, 237)
Jack Doyle, Western Kentucky (6-5, 254)
7th round DC Jefferson, Rutgers (6-6, 255)
Benjamin Watson was one of Weeden's go-to targets last season, but he's an unrestricted free agent. It appears the Browns will let him walk, which opens the door for either Jordan Cameron to take over the starting role, the Browns to look at tight end in free agency (Martellus Bennett or Dustin Keller, maybe?), or find one in the draft on Day 3. The good news is that there are plenty of options later in this draft.
Gavin Escobar won't be an in-line blocker, but he's a gem of a receiver and Norv Turner should be familiar with him given the San Diego connection. He has soft hands and athleticism that's difficult to find. Jack Doyle didn't have a great Senior Bowl, but given time to develop, he can be a sufficient weapon at the next level.
OFFENSIVE LINE The Draft Board
1st round G Chance Warmack, Alabama (6-2, 322) 2nd round G Larry Warford, Kentucky (6-3, 340) 3rd round G/T Brian Winters, Kent St. (6-4, 310)
G/T Justin Pugh, Syracuse (6-5, 301) 4th round G J.C Tretter, Cornell (6-4, 302)
Left tackle Joe Thomas is the foundation of this offensive line and as long as he stays healthy, he'll be there for a while. Same with Alex Mack at center. But, the other three spots on the offensive line should be wide open for competition, especially at guard. The Browns drafted Mitchell Schwartz last year to play right tackle, so he'll stick at that spot. There are no true options at guard in free agency that make any sense (Buffalo's Andy Levitre is the best available, but I can't see Buffalo letting its best OL leave town). As such, the draft is the one area for the Browns to find competition at their guard spots in 2013.
Chance Warmack is the best guard in this draft and an overall top five player. Yes, a guard. It's rare, but when you find a player that doesn't play CB, DE/OLB, LT or QB projected this high, you can be assured he's a stud. Warmack is exactly that. He's the complete package and perhaps the best run-blocking guard we've seen in a few years.
DEFENSIVE LINE The Draft Board
1st round DE Ziggy Ansah, BYU (6-5, 274) 2nd round DE Datone Jones, UCLA (6-4, 280)
DE Margus Hunt, SMU (6-8, 277) 3rd round DE Malliciah Goodman, Clemson (6-4, 272) 4th round DE Devin Taylor, South Carolina (6-8, 269)
DE William Gholston, Michigan St. (6-7, 278) 5th round DE Damion Square, Alabama (6-3, 286)
The defense will move to a 3-4 under the direction of Ray Horton, former defensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals. Given Horton's tenure with the Pittsburgh Steelers, expect more of Pittsburgh's traditional 3-4 look than 4-3 over/under fronts. Regardless, the defensive front needs more impact players, in particular, off the edge rushing the quarterback.
It's almost a waste to use Ziggy Ansah at defensive end in a 3-4 and the Browns would be reaching for him at No. 6. However, if Cleveland piles up picks by moving down and trading into the No. 12-17 range, he'd be a great pick. He's a physical specimen who can play that 3-4 end position opposite Jabaal Sheard, but he could also rush the edge if the Browns play some four man front. Datone Jones is a multi-faceted defensive lineman who is one of the most versatile and explosive 3-4 DE in this or any draft. Again, the Browns don't have a second round pick, but with some movement up and down the draft board, Jones would be a high-value pick.
LINEBACKERS The Draft Board
1st round OLB Damontre Moore, TAMU (6-4, 250)
OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia (6-3, 242)
OLB Kiki Mingo, LSU (6-4, 240)
OLB Dion Jordan, Oregon (6-7, 245) 2nd round OLB Sean Porter, Texas A&M (6-2, 231) 3rd round OLB Chase Thomas, Stanford (6-3, 241)
DE/OLB John Simon, Ohio St. (6-2, 256)
DE Brandon Jenkins, Florida St. (6-3, 260)
4th round OLB Jamie Collins, Southern Miss (6-3, 245)
ILB Nico Johnson, Alabama (6-2, 249)
5th round ILB A.J Klein, Iowa St. (6-1, 246)
It may go without saying but a move to a 3-4 defense, one that will look more like Pittsburgh's than perhaps Seattle's, demands outside pass rushers. All defenses need pressure players but the Browns' defense is especially short on impact players. Luckily for them, help is plentiful at that position in this draft. Inside, D'Qwell Jackson will command the defense and there are a handful of other candidates that could start next to him.
No matter what the Browns do in free agency, they'll likely add an outside linebacker with pass rushing abilities within the first three rounds. If the Browns stay at No. 6, Damontre Moore and Jarvis Jones will have the best value on the board. Both have played OLB in a 3-4, but Moore excelled at DE in a 4-3 in his final year at A&M. Jones is sporadic as his production comes and goes in bunches. Furthermore, the Browns, as most teams interested in Jones, are going to have additional due diligence on Jones' medicals.
SECONDARY The Draft Board
3rd round CB Jordan Poyer, Oregon St. (6-0, 182)
CB Darius Slay, Mississippi St. (6-1, 190) 4th round CB Terry Hawthorne, Illinois (6-0, 190)
S T.J McDonald, USC (6-2, 211)
S J.J Wilcox, Georgia Southern (5-11, 214) 5th round CB Tharold Simon, LSU (6-2, 193)
CB/S Tyrann Mathieu, LSU (5-9, 178)
CB Nigel Malone, Kansas St. (5-10, 180)
Joe Haden missed a handful of games this season as he dealt with both suspension and injury, which gave Buster Skrine the opportunity to sink or swim. Skrine struggled, but that experience should help him going forward, providing depth in the Browns secondary. Sheldon Brown is an unrestricted free agent, but it doesn't appear the team will bring him back. Usama Young was placed on injured reserve late in the season, but he should be back alongside T.J Ward at safety this year. All in all, the secondary may undergo some restructuring.
At cornerback, Jordan Poyer is more a playmaker than anything. He can play zone or man and would fit in well with the Pittsburgh Steelers, which means he'll be a good fit for Horton in this defense too. Darius Slay is a wiry, long and tough corner who stood out in 2012.
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