2013 NFL Draft Board: 4 Players the Cleveland Browns Must Circle

Brian HricikContributor IIIOctober 17, 2012

2013 NFL Draft Board: 4 Players the Cleveland Browns Must Circle

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    At 1-5, the Cleveland Browns draft position for the 2013 draft could be the most muddled in the NFL.  This young team's best football is yet to come.  Off the field, approved ownership change has already shook up the Browns front office with the departure of Mike Holmgren looming.  Will the Browns begin a new tear-down project?  If so, will that mean a change in systems which consequently means high player turnover?  

    With many questions yet to be answered about the future direction of the team, it is best for this article's purpose, to analyze the team as it stands today, six weeks into the season.  While I'm hopefully optimistic, with the 1-5 start, this article takes the dubious liberty of suggesting the team will again draft in the Top 10.  

    There are some glaring needs that the team has to address, regardless how this season turns out. The slides that follow will highlight the best prospects at major positions of need for the Cleveland Browns.

Outside Linebacker, Jarvis Jones (Georgia)

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    Even a healthy Scott Fujita has seen a decline in numbers.  At 33, he was nearing the end of his career before the neck injury which may have cemented a decision to call it quits. This leaves a rather large question mark at the outside linebacker position for the Browns.

    The Browns are in dire need of a difference maker on defense.  Georgia's Jarvis Jones is that difference maker.  At 6'2", 242 pounds, he has a projected 40 time of 4.50 (statistics courtesy of walterfootball.com).  

    His biggest game this year came against Missouri where he recorded 10 tackles, two sacks and an interception which he returned for 21 yards.  On the season, he has 37 tackles, 5.5 sacks and an interception.  Last year, he led the SEC in sacks with 13.5.

    In reviewing footage, a drawback at the NFL level might be his size were he to play in a 3-4 defense. In games against South Carolina and Vanderbilt, he had a particularly difficult time shedding blocks and was taken out of the play by the line on numerous occasions.  This is a minor negative for the Browns' 4-3 defense, where the defensive line's job to absorb blockers.  He is someone with great speed, great tackling skills and a nose for the ball.

    Having a player of Jarvis Jones' talent gives the Browns a serious pass rush threat at linebacker.

    The footage above is from a 2011 game against Boise State.  It is concise in that it highlights both positives and negatives in his play.  Most significant, when viewing the negatives, is his recovery speed.  In multiple occasions, he recovers to get his hands on the ball carrier, twice making the tackle after initially being taken out of the play.

    Option B -  Barkevious Mingo, DE (LSU)

    Mingo could be used as a possible convert project from DE to linebacker, if that doesn't work, the Browns have found another pass rushing end opposite Jabaal Sheard.

Free Safety, T.J. McDonald (USC)

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    While the Browns have many concerns with their defense backfield: an aging Sheldon Brown starting at corner, a young cast of players behind he and starter Joe Haden who have yet to make an impression and a strong safety in T.J. Ward who routinely battles health issues, there is no greater weakness in the defensive backfield than the free safety position.

    That is why they should target free safety T.J. McDonald.  He'd be coupled with T.J. Ward (imagine the nick name possibilities).

    McDonald offers a unique frame for the position at 6'2", 205 pounds, allowing him to do battle with the recent trend in bigger, stronger wide receivers.  He hits hard, and is versatile enough to play either safety position.  Which means if Ward goes down, the drop off should be minimized.

Corner, Xavier Rhodes (Florida State)

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    Mentioned in the prior slide, the Browns have some issues in the defensive backfield.  Another route, rather than going with free safety help, is to ensure that you need to rely on your free safety as little as possible.  

    Drafting a player like Xavier Rhodes to play opposite Joe Haden, gives the Browns potentially a very talented corner duo.  At 6''1", 217 pounds, Rhodes is a physical corner who makes it difficult on receivers at the line.  A big, imposing corner who can cover means if the opposing team opts to throw away from Haden, they'll have to deal with the physicality of Rhodes.

Offensive Guard, Barrett Jones (Alabama)

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    The Browns offensive line is still a work in progress, the young core still has unknowns at both guard positions with even greater unknowns backing them up.  In fact, the currently listed back up for left guard Jason Pinkston, is the same player who is backing up right guard Shawn Lauvao.  That's right, there isn't a single guard good enough to make the active roster as a back up.

    The Browns could resolve this disconcerting news by drafting Barrett Jones,  in essence, making Shawn Lauvao the back up.

    Jones plays in the SEC and served as Alabama's left tackle in 2011, helping clear the path for Trent Richardson.  Prior to his duty at left tackle, he played two years at guard.    

    He is playing center this year, and playing it well.  In drafting Jones, the Browns strengthen their starting line and because of Jones' versatility, strengthen their depth in tackle, center, and guard.

In Conclusion

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    There are many ways the Browns can go with the upcoming draft, an equal amount of unknowns at this point in the season determining the best direction to go with their draft picks.

    Any one of these players will create an immediate positive impact for this football team, regardless of the direction the team goes.  

    If the Browns find themselves drafting in the Top 10 once again, they could get extra picks, move down and still draft Rhodes, McDonald or Jones, all of which would be high impact, high value players on this team.  

    If they sit tight, Jarvis Jones or Barkevious Mingo and have the imposing pass rush threat they're currently missing at the linebacker position.