2012 NFL Draft: 5 Linebackers the Cleveland Browns Must Consider

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2012 NFL Draft: 5 Linebackers the Cleveland Browns Must Consider
Eric Francis/Getty Images
Nebraska's Lavonte David: Just the ingredient for the Browns' pass rush.

As the Cleveland Browns await potential NFL penalties pertaining to Scott Fujita's palpability in the BountyGate case, the reality that the Browns may start the season without Fujita dictates the organization examine their options at outside linebacker.

League politics aside, at 33 and without finishing a full season since 2006, Fujita's position merits an offseason examination anyway. While the veteran Super Bowl champion free agent from the Saints has performed admirably in his time in Clevleand and earned the organization's and fans' respect, frankly he's missed 18 games over the last three seasons.

The AFC North features some of the NFL's best linebacking units, but in 2011 the Browns faltered at the position, finishing 30th in overall rush defense.

Despite a renaissance on the defensive line featuring 2011 draft picks Phil Taylor and Jabaal Sheard, the Browns struggled to sack the quarterback. At 32 sacks on the season, the Browns ranked 23rd in the NFL. Of the 14 teams who managed 40 sacks or more, nine made the playoffs and only three suffered losing records. 

Cognizant of the team needs of improving the pass rush and run defense, these linebackers could potentially fill in as plug-and-play rookies.

You can follow me on Twitter: @StepanekButton 

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