NFL Draft 2013: Dee Milliner Should Be Top Target for the Cleveland Browns

Brian MurtaughAnalyst IJanuary 6, 2013

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - SEPTEMBER 15:    Dee Milliner #28 of the Alabama Crimson Tide runs the ball against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Razorback Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  The Crimson Tide defeated the Razorbacks 52-0.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

While the Cleveland Browns organization has been struggling through the search for a new head coach, fans and draft experts have been wondering where Cleveland will turn when it comes to the sixth overall selection in the 2013 NFL draft.

Three players currently hold the Browns' pick when it comes to mock drafts around the Web and each has their own benefits toward helping Cleveland continue to grow in the AFC North. The Browns' pick is widely expected to be defensive due to the massive youth movement on offense that the team developed last season and the obvious holes that have opened on the defensive side due to injuries and age.

Dee Milliner (cornerback, Alabama), Manti Te'o (linebacker, Notre Dame) and Bjoern Werner (defensive end, Florida State)  are currently the hottest names on Cleveland's radar.

Milliner is considered the top corner in the draft class and could satisfy Cleveland fans who were calling for the team to select Morris Claiborne last year. Milliner is very good at man coverage and played in arguably one of the best realms for competition in college football at Alabama.

As I wrote in my mock draft on National Football Direct earlier this month:

This pick for the Browns really comes down to which position is a bigger need. Manti Te’o or Bjoern Werner are clearly the best defensive players on the board, but Cleveland could have a significant hole at the cornerback position due to the release of Dimitri Patterson and the possible retirement of Sheldon Brown.

Buster Skrine has not shown that he can be consistent enough to warrant a starting position and Trevin Wade did not get enough playing time to be a cornerback option next season.

Cleveland is lacking a key pass-rusher which is making the talk of Te'o and Werner even more powerful. However, the Browns have some talented young linebackers on the active roster in Craig Robertson, James-Michael Johnson and L.J. Fort.

In addition, Juqua Parker and Frostee Rucker played well at the defensive end spot last season, and if Parker returns in 2013, the spot should be solidified for one more season.

Another reason to consider Milliner over a pass-rusher is that great coverage in the secondary can create more chances for linemen and linebackers to get to the quarterback. The Browns have not had that elite coverage over the course of the last few seasons so it is hard to tell what kind of ability their front seven could have when they receive proper support.

The fact that Cleveland is going through a coaching and organizational change during this off season should also play a big role into its draft decision. Cornerbacks are traditionally lower risk when it comes to the scouting process, and the Browns have already lost valuable time to scout players during the bowl season.

Cleveland's draft needs can drastically change over the course of the next few months due to coaching changes, scheme changes and potential free-agent acquisitions. This topic is sure to be revisited quite a few times between now and April, and the debate over who Cleveland should pick is officially ready to begin.


Brian Murtaugh is a former Cleveland Browns Featured Columnist for the Bleacher Report. He is also the owner and founder of National Football Direct.