2012 NFL Draft: Cleveland Browns Must Spend Multiple Picks on the Offensive Line

Brian MurtaughAnalyst IApril 12, 2012

CLEVELAND - SEPTEMBER 2: Shawn Lauvao #66 and Pat Murray #75 of the Cleveland Browns line up before the snap against the Chicago Bears during the preseason game on September 2, 2010 at Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. The Browns defeated the Bears 13-10. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The 2012 NFL draft is a little less than two weeks away and the Cleveland Browns are still working to finalize their plans heading into the draft process. After entertaining prospects like Trent Richardson and Ryan Tannehill, the Browns must decide which players will have the biggest impact on their franchise over the course of the next five years.

Even though adding an elite running back or franchise quarterback may be appealing, the Browns also have some major holes that need to be addressed over the course of the draft. The offensive line is one of those spots that Cleveland must improve if they expect to be competitive during the 2012 season and beyond.

The biggest hole on the Browns offensive line has to be the right tackle position. Oniel Cousins is currently slated as the starter at the right tackle position and does not have the type of talent that Cleveland needs in order to protect their young backfield. Even though Cousins has only played four seasons in the NFL, he has not shown the ability to be a consistent starter on the offensive line.

Both guard positions also have to be points of concern for Cleveland as their pass protection and running game struggled behind Jason Pinkston and Shawn Lauvao last season. The Browns ranked 29th in the NFL in total yards last season and critics around the league questioned the guard's ability throughout most of the season.

Both Lauvao and Pinkston should improve in 2012 as each player was working through their first seasons as a consistent starter in 2011. Both players will only be 24 years old when the 2012 season begins, but each have concerns on whether or not they are good enough to start this season.

The Browns have a unique possibility to draft an elite offensive lineman in addition to a skill player in the first round. With two first round selections, the Browns could not only add a weapon for Colt McCoy, they could also add protection for the upcoming season.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 25: Offensive lineman Cordy Glenn of Georgia participates in a drill during the 2012 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 25, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

It is also worthy to note that offensive linemen traditionally have longer careers than position players due to the fact that they are not taking hits in the open field.

Two of the biggest names that many mock draft experts think will be options for Cleveland are Cordy Glenn and Jonathan Martin.

Glenn recently visited the Browns facility and reportedly impressed the front office with his athletic ability and footwork. The interesting thing about Glenn is the fact that he started at both guard positions in his college career and has shown that he could be effective at each spot.

Martin is one of those linemen that lost draft stock because of the need for position players. Martin was once ranked as a top-15 prospect which would make his selection at 22 an absolute steal for a team looking for a right tackle. Martin also blocked for the best college quarterback prospect in the country, Andrew Luck, for his entire college career.

The Browns could also look at options later in the draft in order to fill holes on the offensive line. Some mid-round prospects like Zebrie Sanders, Mitchell Schwartz and Tony Bergstrom could be options if Cleveland decides to address their skill positions early.

The Browns have plenty of holes to fill throughout this draft and currently hold 13 picks to solidify their roster. Expect Cleveland to be interesting players in the draft due to the simple fact that they hold so many picks and have so much leverage to make moves for players they see fit.