Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Browns 2013 Draft Needs

So far so good.  The Browns have addressed some of their needs on defense, signed some key free agents.  Hopefully there may be one or two signings to come, but now our attention is turning to the NFL draft .   What are the Browns going to do.  

Well, of course, nobody knows what is going to happen, but that doesn't stop us from trying to predict the future anyway. 

The Village Elliot believes that the team is still very thin, and needs help in a number of areas.

Dude, where's my cornerback?   Joe Haden is great on one side, but you need a second starter, plus extras for nickel and dime formations.  The Browns have added depth at cornerback in the form of Kevin Barnes and Chris Owens, both of whom are probably better as nickel backs, along with Buster Skrine.   The Browns lost Sheldon Brown, a very tough player, but perhaps a guy that that Browns felt might have lost a step. Cornerbacks with speed are gone early in the NFL draft.  Dee Milliner is everyone's favorite here, so much so that I doubt he will fall to the Browns with the sixth overall pick.

 If Dee Milliner is still available at number 6, many observers predict the Browns will take him.  The Village Elliot thinks they will trade down if they can't get him.  Image credit:

Dude, where's my free safety?  Well, the Browns decided to clear some salary cap room with no one in sight.  Usama Young was cut, and there is no replacement. Most of the mock drafts that I've seen expect the first free safety to come off the board late in the first round or possibly later. Matt Elam might be the best free safety listed, but you can also think about converting a cornerback to free safety depending on the individual.  

  Matt Elam of Florida is a premier free safety, and is already used to orange helmets.  Image credit

Dude, where's my fullback?  These days some teams don't even use a fullback, preferring to start three wide receivers.  But Coach Chud and OC Norv Turner have always used a fullback, and the Browns have lacked one since they let go of Lawrence Vickers for absolutely no reason that I can fathom.  I'm still fuming about that bonehead move.  Fullbacks are available in the late rounds, though, so maybe they can use a pick to get a good one. One guy that intrigues me is  Kyle Juszczyk (Medina/Cloverleaf High School), a kid with a nasty disposition that went to Harvard.  

Dude, where's my kicker and punter?  Oops, we let them go also.  It's very hard to get really good specialists, but there are good ones out there.  It's not totally crazy to audition a few in the preseason and wind up with someone who can do an acceptable job.  For whatever reason, teams don't always draft specialists, and finding one via undrafted free agents is not unheard of. 

The offensive line also did not perform well as a unit, despite having an All Pro in left tackle Joe Thomas, and quality players in Alex Mack at center and Mitchell Schwartz at right tackle. Overall they gave up a lot of sacks, and the running game was below average with first rounder Trent Richardson, Chris Ogbonnaya and Montario Hardesty.  You do the math, but the Village Elliot figures that the Browns need to add two more offensive linemen. Likely the Browns would be in the market for a guard, but you can't rule out that they might draft a tackle with the intention of moving him to guard. Chance Warmack is regarded as the premier guard in the group, projected to go in the middle of the first round, but very good guards are often available in the late rounds also. 

Drafting a guy who weighs in at 320 with a reputation for pancake blocks is not a bad idea.

What about a quarterback?  Bad teams love to draft quarterbacks all the time, and here's hoping that the Browns can avoid that temptation. The Browns have talent at the position with former number one picks Brandon Weeden and Jason Campell, and a decent third string guy in Thad Lewis.  I think that the Browns may go quarterback if they trade down from the sixth overall pick and feel that there is a stud available in round 2 or 3.  But really there are other positions that need help, much more so than quarterback, so I hope that they don't go that way.

At wide receiver, I've been frustrated for years at the Browns inability to draft decent talent.  This year, depth is a concern, but they have a true number one receiver in Josh Gordon, who came on strong at the end of the year, and unseated the talented but underachieving  Greg Little.  Before getting hurt, Jordan Norwood emerged as a credible receiver in the slot, and Travis Benjamin made some good catches as another deep threat.  There may be enough talent there that taking another wideout is not totally necessary.  

The Browns seem well stocked at defensive line.  They may try to deal defensive end Jabal  Sheard, or if not they may try to convert himi to a pass rushing linebacker.  Either way they could add a 3-4 linebacker with a tracker record as a pass defender.
To a large extent, most teams look at the talent first, and the team's depth chart second.  But you also have to look at how the draft is likely to unfold.  Namely, very few good corners are drafted in the late rounds; very few kickers, punters or fullbacks are taken in the early rounds.  

We don't expect them to try to upgrade Trent Richardson (halfback), Joe Thomas (LT), Alex Mack (center), Mitchell Schwartz (RT), or  Josh Gordon (wr1)

So, taking all that into account my guess is that the Browns will go for a cornerback early on, most likely trading down from the 6th position because Milliner will probably not be available.  A safety, offensive lineman and a  quarterback may be taken early as well.  Later on, the Browns will have to address the fullback position, and one way or another they will have to find a kicker and a punter as well.   The latter might be done with undrafted free agents unless they feel that there is a guy that they can not afford to pass up in the late rounds of the draft. 

Browns trade down and get a number 1 and 2. and a later round pick. 

Maybe something like this: 
1) Chance Warmack G, Alabama (trade down)

2) Jonathan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
    (by trade)
3)  Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas

4) Tony Jefferson, S, Oklahoma

5) Josh Boyce, WR, TCU

5) Oday Aboushi, G, Virginia

6) Kyle Juszcyk FB, Harvard

7)  Caleb Sturgis, K, Florida


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Mike. Folks are invited to argue with Mike and me and many others on Facebook, on the Brandon Weeden Nation group.