5 NFL Draft Prospects Guaranteed to Interest the Cleveland Browns in 2013

Andy McNamaraCorrespondent IIDecember 17, 2012

5 NFL Draft Prospects Guaranteed to Interest the Cleveland Browns in 2013

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    The Cleveland Browns are guaranteed to be interested in five specific prospects for the 2013 NFL entry draft.

    As of now it appears that Cleveland will pick in the seven to nine range of the opening round.

    For the purpose of this article potential free agents and coaching changes are not going to be considered.

    This presentation will not go over simply the top players available, but rather who will fit best into the Browns current system at positions that need the most attention.

    The following slides will be ranked based on urgency to upgrade in a particular area, the quality of targets and team roster depth. 

    We will begin with two mid-round choices and finish by highlighting three number one selection possibilities.

5. Free Safety- Tony Jefferson

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    Voted to the First Team All Big 12 Conference, free safety Tony Jefferson is ready to make his jump to the pros.

    The Oklahoma Sooner lead his club in tackles with 113, which is also good for fourth among defensive backs across the entire NCAA.

    CBS Sports analyst Dane Brugler commented, "Jefferson is a versatile performer and isn't restricted to a specific position, showing the defensive instincts to line up in the box or drop in coverage in both man and zone looks." 

    One of the reasons this junior is not considered an elite prospect at this point is because at 5'11", 212 pounds he does lack the ideal size for a FS.

    However, Jefferson is still young with plenty of time to bulk up.

    The Chula Vista, California native can be a legitimate threat to blitz and attack the backfield as he collected 14.5 tackles for loss in his career heading into this season.

     

    WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THE BROWNS

    The beauty in selecting Jefferson is that he adds depth and versatility no matter what happens at cornerback or free safety.

    Ideally Sheldon Brown is signed to a new deal and is moved over to FS, which gives the rookie time to learn behind one of the greatest defensive minds in the game.

    Loving to deliver big hits matches Jefferson up well next to T.J. Ward. 

    Being naturally quick and able to change directions on a dime strongly suggests that the Sooner would be a great fit on an already aggressive defense.

    He is currently slated to be selected in the late second or early to mid third rounds.

4. Offensive Guard- Larry Warford

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    Being in the shadow of Chance Warmack and Barrett Jones, Kentucky's Larry Warford could be the offensive guard steal of the 2013 NFL draft.

    Slated to go in round three, the Wildcat won the SEC Co-Offensive Lineman of the Week Award back in September.

    Warford allowed zero sacks, did not take a penalty, tallied eight knockdown blocks and graded out at 91.7 percent in a 47-14 victory over Kent State.

     

    WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THE BROWNS

    At 6'3" and a mighty 343 pounds, Warford is surprisingly agile.

    His mass and success at stuffing charging defenders will prove to be a tremendous asset for both running back Trent Richardson and quarterback Brandon Weeden.

    The senior can anchor Cleveland's offensive line and shove his way to the second level, which in turn will create some much needed larger holes for Richardson to drive through.

    OG is the Browns' thinnest position. However, this does not mean that the brain trust needs to select a guard in the first round.

    If Jason Pinkston can return healthy, a draft choice like Warford and a free agent such as Andy Levitre can be added. Then all of a sudden this club possesses depth as well as talent.

3. Linebacker- Manti Te'o

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    Winning the Lott Impact Trophy for best defensive player gave Manti Te'o seven national awards in a week and made him the most decorated athlete in college football history.

    Can there be any doubt that the Notre Dame captain is the real deal?

    Deciding to return for his senior year in 2012 gave Te'o the extra maturity that makes him even more NFL-ready.

    The linebacker was number one in team tackles for a third straight season, collecting an impressive 103 in the current campaign.

    Tremendous field vision and ball hawk tendencies helped the Hawaiian amass seven interceptions on route to the Fighting Irish finishing undefeated.

     

    WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THE BROWNS

    Te'o is a natural leader who would develop into the heir apparent for D'Qwell Jackson and be an immediate starter.

    The 6'2", 255-pound stand out can impact a game in several ways. Te'o can deliver tackles for loss, force turnovers, rush for sacks and as mentioned above, pile on interceptions.

    Craig Robertson, James-Michael Johnson, Kaluka Maiava, L.J. Fort and of course D'Qwell Jackson already give the Browns exceptional depth at linebacker. 

    Remember that Chris Gocong and often forgotten rookie Emmanuel Acho are both expected to return healthy in 2013 as well. 

    The only question mark at the position remains around the looming retirement of veteran Scott Fujita.

    Adding a franchise type player like Te'o would instantly upgrade Cleveland's LB corps and solidify the group for the next five years.

2. Defensive End- Damontre Moore

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    Damontre Moore had a breakout season as a junior in 2012 that is highlighted with a selection to the All-Southeastern Conference First Team.

    The Texas A&M defensive end tied for second in the country in sacks with 12.5 and also shared third place in tackles for loss at 20.

    Moore is a versatile player that has performed both as a DE in Texas A&M's 4-3 and as an outside linebacker the previous year in a 3-4 scheme.

    Being able to deliver at two positions will certainly peak the interest of NFL scouts.

     

    WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THE BROWNS

    Experience playing in the 4-3 should make the transition to Dick Jauron's defense an easy one.

    Listed at 6'4" and 250 pounds, Moore's blend of physicality and speed is the bulldozer style the Browns need to book end Jabaal Sheard long-term.

    Free agent signings Frostee Rucker and Juqqa Parker have each performed above expectations at the position.

    However, Parker is in his 12th-year as a pro and some young powerful legs like Moore's on the edge would make this very good defensive line great.

    Rotate in Rucker to keep the pass rush fresh, and all of a sudden Cleveland has the most feared combination of ends in the AFC North.

1. Cornerback- Dee Milliner

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    Dee Milliner began the college season as a late teens first round prospect, but a stellar 2012 puts him as high as top 10 in some circles.

    A unanimous selection to First Team All-SEC is gravy for this junior who will start in the BCS National Championship on Jan. 7.

    The Alabama Crimson Tide cornerback is knotted at third in the NCAA for passes defended with 16 breakups and two interceptions.

    Four tackles for a loss and 51 tackles overall, round out this bruising defender's year to date.

    Dane Brugler from CBS Sports commented, "(Milliner) plays tight bump-and-run and enjoys pressing with little cushion. Closes quickly and baits throws, looking to make a play on each snap...physical striker and does a nice job avoiding blocks while keeping his eye on the ball."

     

    WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THE BROWNS

    At 6'1" Milliner possesses the size and athleticism to hang with the league's best wide receivers.

    The Millbrook, Alabama native never backs down and is the in-your-face CB that this club needs.

    His talents of analyzing the pre-snap, quick decision making and attacking the run all show signs of a future star.

    Milliner's over aggressiveness can cause him at times to miss some tackles. This is a maturity issue and can be corrected through coaching.

    It would not be something to prevent him from being a day one starter.

    In the five games without star CB Joe Haden this season, the Cleveland secondary completely crumbled.

    Cornerback is the most glaring need and more specifically an outside presence opposite Haden.

    Buster Skrine and Dimitri Patterson (when healthy) are nice options to cover the inside.

    However, neither have the ability to consistently take on top receivers. Especially Skrine, who's penalty riddled performance in the overtime loss to Dallas bordered on embarrassing. 

    11-year veteran Sheldon Brown's play through week 15 proves that he can still be a major contributor. His next move needs to be to free safety where he will not be a liability in the speed department against a hot shot WR.

    The Browns do not have the luxury to take a later round cornerback that will end up in the slot. They have enough of those already.

    It must be either a number one pick or stellar free agent that comes in. Otherwise, an injury to Haden would once again prove disastrous.

Final Thoughts

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    Despite dropping to a 5-9 record on Sunday afternoon and many fans calling for Brandon Weeden's head, this is not the draft to take a quarterback.

    Selecting for the positions and players outlined in this article are far more pressing then rebooting at signal caller once again.

    Between Weeden and Colt McCoy the Browns can get by for another year.

    Adding and developing the pieces on both sides of the ball in 2013 will make it that much easier for any future QB to be successful.

     

    Follow Andy McNamara on Twitter @AndyMc81