Cleveland Browns Mock Draft: Early Predictions for the 2013 NFL Draft
Cleveland will go into the spring without a second round pick because of the selection of wide receiver Josh Gordon in this year's supplemental draft. This makes the Browns' first round choice that much more important.
General Manager Tom Heckert is not shy about dealing on draft day and could be looking to do so again, assuming he is still employed under the new Jimmy Haslam regime.
The Browns are on pace to another top five spot on the draft board. Since a running back and quarterback were taken last offseason, the consensus is that defense will be the club's primary focus.
For the purpose of this mock draft, I am having the Browns pick at the fourth overall position.
Buckle up and let's roll through who Cleveland will select through the entire seven rounds.
With the fourth pick in the 2013 NFL entry draft, the Cleveland Browns select...
First Round- Defensive End: Bjoern Werner
Browns GM Tom Heckert starts wheeling and dealing early by trading down three spots with the Philadelphia Eagles.
In the transaction, Cleveland moves from fourth to seventh overall and reclaim their missing second-round pick. The Browns also swap their 2013 seventh-round selection for Philly's seventh in 2014.
The top priority for Cleveland is to find a pass rushing defensive end.
Currently ranked by CBS Sports as the best DE in America, Bjoern Werner is taken at seven. The Florida State Seminole provides a perfect bookend to Jabaal Sheard on the Browns' D-line.
That being said, he would have been a stretch going as high as number four. This gave Heckert a great opportunity to make a move that gets back a second-round choice and still fill the team's most pressing need.
Werner instantly makes Cleveland's front line one of the most feared in the AFC. Possessing a high motor attack, he solves the Browns' glaring need for a dominant pass-rusher.
The German exchange student possesses quick feet and natural power that allows him to outmanoeuvre blockers right off the snap. Werner's technique is still developing, but with his relentless work ethic there is no doubt he will be starting for the Browns next September.
The 6'4" edge rusher's passion for the game, physicality and electric energy will also make him an instant fan favourite across northeast Ohio.
Second Round- Cornerback: Jordan Poyer
Cleveland acquired this second round pick from the trade with Philadelphia back at the start of the draft.
Having addressed the pressing need for a pass-rusher, the Browns now turn their attention to the next needed upgrade.
The 39th overall selection is cornerback Jordan Poyer.
An aging Sheldon Brown and general uncertainty at the position outside of Joe Haden, forces the Browns to take a high upside corner in Poyer.
Earlier this month the Oregon State Beaver was invited to attend the Senior Bowl as he made scouts take notice in 2012.
What has made this season even more impressive for Poyer is that he was able to rise to the occasion when CB partner, Brandon Hardin, went down from a broken shoulder. In only his second year as a corner he amassed career highs in interceptions, tackles, and broken up passes.
The 5'11" senior brings the physical and athletic abilities Cleveland has been looking for in someone to go opposite Haden. A bonus is that he is also a phenomenal kick/punt returner.
Poyer was arrested for an alleged bar fight back in May, which means some clubs will probably shy away. The Browns will do their homework and hope to grab this diamond in the rough; similar to what they did when taking a chance on wide receiver Josh Gordon.
Third Round- Linebacker: Gerald Hodges
Entering Round 3 Cleveland will look to add depth at outside linebacker.
It never hurts to bring along a versatile OLB that possesses laser-like precision when in pursuit of the ball carrier. That is why the Browns decide on Gerald Hodges from Penn State.
Flying under the radar somewhat because of the hype around fellow linebacker and teammate Michael Mauti, the 238-pound senior is a real find in the third round.
Hodges impresses scouts with his heart and all out effort on every single play. The knock on this Paulsboro, New Jersey native is that he can have trouble shedding blockers.
However, Hodges doesn't stay tangled up for long since his quickness allows him to regroup and still make an impact on the play.
This Nittany Lion's overall speed and range are his greatest strengths. These attributes allow him to perform equally well dropping back into coverage, blitzing the quarterback or stuffing the run.
With Scott Fujita looking at retirement and Chris Gocong coming off a serious Achilles injury, having an outside presence like Hodges can only help this Browns linebacker corps.
Fourth Round- Offensive Guard: Omoregie Uzzi
Having reached the middle rounds of the 2013 NFL entry draft it is time for Cleveland to solidify a position where they are desperately thin.
The future of Jason Pinkston's health is unknown and having only John Greco and Shawn Lauvao as viable options at guard is just not good enough. Depth is needed to ensure that Trent Richardson gets the best running lanes possible and that Brandon Weeden is well protected.
Omoregie Uzzi will look terrific in orange and brown as he is taken with the fourth-round pick. Try saying that name three times fast.
From the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Uzzi is an All-American right guard who overcame a late season injury last year to bounce back to his old form in 2012.
Uzzi will become star running back and Trent Richardson's new best friend, as he is a physical run blocker who can get to the second level.
Using his 6'3", 302-pound frame to stay low and brick wall defenders off the snap, Uzzi could very well be the unsung hero of this draft.
Fifth Round- Safety: Josh Evans
In the fifth round Cleveland decides to continue work on its secondary.
Free Safety Josh Evans from the Florida Gators is the selection.
Having added cornerback Jordan Poyer back in the second pick, the Browns will like the aggressiveness that Evans brings to free safety.
Usama Young has played adequately, but is more of a stop gap, and young Eric Hagg has not proven that he can perform consistently at FS. An upgrade is needed.
At 6'1", 200 pounds, Evans delivers clean tackles and can ball hawk. The senior would look great next to strong safety T.J. Ward.
It will be a fight to take the starting job away from Young right off the bat, but he does have a real shot at jumping over Hagg in the depth chart and becoming number two.
Sixth Round- Offensive Tackle: Kyle Long
The sixth round will be Cleveland's last in the draft as its seventh-round pick was traded to Philadelphia in part of a deal earlier on.
These later selections are all about potential and raw talent. Offensive tackle Kyle Long from the Oregon Ducks has plenty of both.
Son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Howie Long, the massive 6'7" bruiser moved from defensive end to offensive line when he joined Oregon.
His height and over 300-pound physique makes the Virginia native an imposing target for any defender. Having insurance on the O-line with that size is never a bad thing.
Long would also get along well with Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden since they both have a baseball background as pitchers.
Long is not a starter for the Ducks, however, he does see substantial playing time per game.
He is rough around the edges and would need some seasoning before being able to be a solid contributor. With Long's family pedigree and threatening size, why wouldn't the Browns take a chance on the kid?
Draft Wrap Up
The Cleveland Browns midseason 2013 mock draft has come to a close.
Remember, there is still a lot of season left. Talent requirements, team positioning on the draft board and player rankings will all change before Commissioner Roger Goodell takes the stage next spring.
Here is a rundown of the Browns picks:
Round One- Defensive End: Bjoern Werner
Round Two- Cornerback: Jordan Poyer
Round Three- Linebacker: Gerald Hodges
Round Four- Offensive Guard: Omoregie Uzzi
Round Five- Free Safety: Josh Evans
Round Six- Offensive Tackle: Kyle Long
The NFL's youngest team still has a lot of growing to do together and of course not every need can be addressed in a single draft.
Key improvements for the pass rush and at cornerback will give Cleveland a chance to move one step closer to that ultimate goal of a playoff birth.
Follow Andy McNamara on Twitter @AndyMc81