2012 NFL Draft: Cleveland Browns 7-Round Mock Draft

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2012 NFL Draft: Cleveland Browns 7-Round Mock Draft
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

"Human reason can neither predict nor deliberately shape its own future."—F.A. von Hayek

At fourth overall with the first three picks essentially locked up according to media consensus, the Cleveland Browns sit in an unfortunately familiar position on draft day: the driver's seat.

I will commence my fool's errand of predicting each of the Browns' 13 draft picks in order with a large disclaimer: I firmly believe the Browns will trade out of the fourth spot and my certainty grows stronger by the day.

First, consider the Browns' recent draft history: in 2009, 2010 and 2011 the Browns owned top-10 picks. 2009's trade-down (notably executed by Eric Mangini and GM George Kokinis, neither of whom remain with the organization) plopped Mark Sanchez on the lap of the New York Jets and eventually landed the Browns with an excellent young center in Alex Mack.

At seventh overall in 2010, the Browns stayed put and drafted another instant success: cornerback Joe Haden out of Florida. Haden's impressive generosity and spirit immediately ingratiated the lockdown corner to the tightly-knit Cleveland community and serves as the ideal model for player-fan relations.

Presented with their second top-5 pick in three years, the Browns opted again to trade down in 2011, selecting defensive tackle Phil Taylor. Taylor produced from day one and combined with fellow rookie Jabaal Sheard and Ahtyba Rubin to form a pleasantly surprising young nucleus on the defensive line.

Many analysts and fans, including ESPN's Jamison Hensley, have dismissed the notion of the Browns trading down and in the same breath justified that theory by pointing to the organization's excess picks.

To which this columnist responds: exactly. If the Browns want to continue to enjoy the opportunity to pick multiple first-rounders, they will trade down. If the Browns want to avoid the pressure of adding one piece to the offense (Richardson, Blackmon) with expectations of a Canton induction before their first snap, they will trade down.

If the Browns want to continue to take chances on players like Montario Hardesty and Greg Little, they will trade down.

But, rules are rules and this draft will pick straight up from where the Browns stand.

You can follow me on Twitter @StepanekButton 

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