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Cleveland Browns: What Position Should They Target with 2013 First-Round Pick?

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26:  Trent Richardson (R) from Alabama holds up a jersey as he stands on stage with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after he was selected #3 overall by the Cleveland Browns in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 26, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images
Andy McNamaraCorrespondent IIOctober 23, 2012

The Cleveland Browns are the most youthful team in the National Football League with 15 rookies and 11 second-year players.

These youngsters of 2012 have been demonstrating steady improvement each week of the regular season and have shown bursts of greatness on both sides of the ball.

However, at 1-6 and a daunting schedule ahead of them, let's be realistic. In all likelihood, Cleveland will be selecting in the top 10 of the 2013 NFL draft.

The foundation has been set on offense with a gunslinger quarterback in Brandon Weeden and a man beast of a running back in Trent Richardson.

The question is: What position should the Browns select in the first round?

Despite loud clamouring from the fans for a wide receiver, this is not the spot to take one. Remember, Josh Gordon was a second-round pick in this year's supplemental draft, meaning that the Browns have already used that second selection for 2013.

Taking one and two on receivers will not happen. Adding a veteran through free agency or a later pick is the more likely scenario.

Already some rumblings have started about taking quarterback Geno Smith if he is still available. The last thing Cleveland needs is another QB change and Brandon Weeden continues to show that he is a special talent.

When Commissioner Roger Goodell stands up at the podium and calls out the Browns first draft choice, it should be at the cornerback position.

Cornerback is where Cleveland's defense is most vulnerable and it can be resolved with this sure-to-be-high selection.

Joe Haden is one of the most respected corners in the league and instantly gave credibility to the Browns' secondary when he was chosen seventh overall in 2010.

Imagine one more just-as-impressive corner on the other side of the field.

In his 11th season, an aging Sheldon Brown has made some spectacular plays through seven weeks. He does an incredible job of reading the quarterback and getting a jump on the ball, resulting in such highlights as a pick six and a fumble recovery.

However, Brown is becoming an increasing liability on the outside where speedy receivers are exposing him more and more.

There is no better time than next year to move the savvy veteran to the inside slot where he won't have to cover as much ground and his skill set can be utilized as a real asset.

Brown's move to the inside takes pressure off a speedy, but often overwhelmed, Buster Skrine. Toss in Dimitri Patterson and all of a sudden Cleveland has one of the best groups of corners in the AFC.

With one simple choice of a second stud CB, the Browns will have an answer for the talented crop of receivers found in division rivals Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati.

There is still so much of the 2012 campaign left to play, so honing in on a specific cornerback from the college ranks would be premature.

Alabama's Dee Milliner, Florida State's Xavier Rhodes, and Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks all are projected to go in the first round and possess immediate impact potential.

Depending on where they stand on the draft board, there is always the potential for Cleveland to trade down if their desired corner is ranked lower in the opening round. We have seen in the past that GM Tom Heckert is not afraid to accumulate a large number of picks through wheeling and dealing.

Another talked about round-one decision is to get an upgrade at defensive end.

Yes, some fresh legs to rotate with Frostee Rucker and Jabaal Sheard would definitely be nice to have.

It is a need that can be addressed in later rounds and certainly not as urgent a matter worthy of a top selection.

The Cleveland Browns get another opportunity to draft a slew of tremendous talent in this upcoming offseason.

As long as management addresses the cornerback issue early then the orange and brown will be having their name called a lot further down the board come 2014.

 

Follow Andy on Twitter: @AndyMc81

Listen to Andy's NFL podcast '3rd and Long' on www.CBCSports.ca

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