3 Players the Cleveland Browns Could Take in the First Round of 2013 NFL Draft

Brian HricikContributor IIINovember 27, 2012

3 Players the Cleveland Browns Could Take in the First Round of 2013 NFL Draft

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    As it currently stands, the Cleveland Browns are looking at the fourth overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft.  It goes without saying that they could use help in multiple areas.

    In analyzing the Browns' potential first pick in the 2013 NFL draft, I factored in the team's weakest starting positions, the most talented prospects at those positions and how those prospects ranked among one another.

    The slides that follow detail, in order, players who might be a Cleveland Brown come 2013 given the current draft order and why the team should take them.

Linebacker: Jarvis Jones, Georgia

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    At 6' 2" and 242 pounds, Jones is usually seen by many pundits as a prototypical 3-4 outside linebacker.  He has tremendous speed, is a terror as a pass rusher and is excellent in pass coverage.  It is true, he could make a great 3-4 linebacker in the NFL, but he could be even more terrifying to opposing offenses as a 4-3 linebacker.

    In a draft analysis article I did a few months back, I looked at Jones highlights. In games against South Carolina and Vanderbilt, I noticed, lining up in a 3-4, Jones was often taken out of the play by the opposing offensive lineman.  The talent at the next level is only going to be more stringent.  

    Were he to be placed in a 4-3 system, where it is the defensive line's job to absorb blockers to allow linebackers to get at the quarterback unencumbered, Jones could truly flourish at the next level.  His frame closely mirrors the Browns' current roster of outside linebackers, and his talent goes well beyond the Browns' roster at the position.

    He is, bottom line, the best player available at a position of real need for the Cleveland Browns.  I've heard the saying that a team should never draft based purely on need with the first overall pick, that you should always draft best player available.  While I don't fully buy into that philosophy, I can safely say that with Jones, the Browns would not only take care of a great need, they're also getting who will most likely be the best player available when he is on the clock.

DE: Bjoern Werner, FSU

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    It's entirely possible that one of the three teams ahead of the Browns will jump on Jarvis Jones.  If that's the case, they could find high value in Florida State's Bjoern Werner.   Werner has been moving up many pundits' draft boards by showcasing his talents despite the loss of fellow defensive lineman powerhouse Brandon Jenkins. 

    The Seminoles' 6' 4", 256-pound defensive end has been described as a "sack machine" with a high motor.  He also excels in run coverage, a perpetual weak spot for the Browns who rank 19th in the league, surrendering 118.4 yards per game.  This stat is a death knell in the AFC North where, come December, teams look to pound the football.

    What an addition like Werner really does for the Browns is shore up the defensive line for many years to come.  The tackle rotation appears to be set with Ahtyba Rubin, Phil Taylor, John Hughes and Billy Winn.  And while Jabaal Sheard is having a down year, he has proven potential as an above-average pass rusher.  

    Putting Werner on the line opposite Sheard suddenly shortens the amount of time the opposing quarterback has to throw the football.  This in turn lessens the need for a stud outside linebacker to create plays and makes the young and questionable secondary less of a liability. 

CB: Dee Milliner, Alabama

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    If you were to analyze the Browns position by position, you would find that defensive back, and cornerback specifically, is the weakest position on the defensive side of the football, maybe on the team in general.  The good news is that there are a lot of really good corners potentially entering the 2013 draft.  

    It could be argued the best of them is Alabama's Dee Milliner.  Of the positions I researched for this article, I spent the most time reviewing highlights and reading analysis of the corner position.  It is a huge question mark aside from starter Joe Haden.

    Sheldon Brown is 33 and in a contract year; he should be gone come the start of the 2013 season.  The young players behind him and Haden have shown spurts of potential but are inconsistent at best.  With the roster in its current incarnation, I wouldn't feel comfortable with Dimitri Patterson, Buster Skrine, Trevon Wade or Johnson Bademosi starting opposite Joe Haden.

    No matter what, this draft is deep enough that the Browns should invest in another starting corner.  If they choose to do so with their first overall pick and that pick is Dee Milliner, I wouldn't complain.

    Milliner is an excellent pass defender, and at 6' 1" and 198 pounds, he can hang with today's bigger, faster, more physical wide receivers.  While he isn't an interception factory, his 30 career pass break-ups, rank third among all active NCAA players.  

    In short, opposing teams do their best to avoid going to his side.  The Browns already have a player like that in Joe Haden.  With both of them on the field at the same time, they're going to have to make a decision; neither choice is a reassuring one for the opposing quarterback.  

    Milliner is the type of player that gives instant credibility to the Browns' pass defense and makes teams plan around him.  Were Milliner to become a Brown, teams will have to look to beat them on the ground.  This potentially means lower-scoring games, narrower margins and, with any luck, another year under the belts of the Browns' young offensive talent, with the Browns taking those close victories.  

In Conclusion

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    With the fourth overall pick, it would appear the Browns can't go wrong.  But then, teams have done it throughout history (THIS team did it regularly for over a decade).  In a draft year that is rich with defensive talent, for a team that is a few players away from having a top-10 defense, it looks like things are falling into place for the Browns.

    Any of the three players mentioned would go a long way in helping the Browns turn the corner in 2013.