Full Cleveland Browns Scouting Guide for the 2013 East-West Shrine Game
The 88th annual East-West Shrine Game is ready to roll this Saturday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL.
This article will serve as a scouting guide for players and positions that the Cleveland Browns need to watch closely.
Practice sessions leading up to the event are also heavily analyzed as representatives from colleges in the eastern United States prepare to battle their counterparts at western schools.
Exposure of athletes from smaller programs is of particular interest to scouts looking for that next hidden gem.
Thirty-seven players who participated in last year's game were drafted by 23 different NFL teams in the 2012 entry draft.
Cleveland added attendees Ryan Miller (G) and Trevin Wade (CB) as late round selections.
Let's take a look at who would fit best with the Browns' current roster needs.
UCLA Bruins tight end—Joseph Fauria
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Tight ends should become a much more predominant part of the offense under Rob Chudzinski. Look at the success he had with Kellen Winslow last time he was in town.
If the Cleveland Browns re-sign veteran TE Benjamin Watson, then it will buy them time to groom Jordan Cameron as a fresh up and comer.
Size combined with athleticism is the NFL's hot trend at this position. Below are two late round prospects that could become big targets for Cleveland quarterbacks.
Joseph Fauria—UCLA Bruins
Standing 6'7" and 257 pounds, Fauria provides the potential mismatches that offensive coordinators drool over.
Soft hands? How does 12 touchdowns for 637-yards, including the Holiday Bowl, in 2012 sound?
This gives the Browns another reliable pass-catcher, which would continue to solve the ball dropping problems from these past two seasons.
The Bruin dominates midfield, but lacks a quick step off the snap.
His blocking is a constant struggle and will be an ongoing project for coaches at the professional level.
Fauria's nose for the endzone and catching ability makes the senior a possible steal if he goes, where currently projected by CBS Sports, in the seventh round.
Zach Sudfeld—Nevada Wolfpack
Starting all 13 games, Sudfeld is another talented big man that could look good in orange and brown.
Reports range from 6'6" and 261 pounds to 6'7" and 255 pounds. Either way, raw athletic ability combined with sticky fingers gives the Wolfpack TE all the tools to crack a NFL roster.
Hauling in 45 passes for nine scores was the result of a breakout year, which saw Sudfeld chosen to second team All-Mountain West.
His blocking is also gradually progressing.
A season developing behind Benjamin Watson, or another experienced tight end, gives Cleveland the opportunity to bring him along slowly.
Similar to Jordan Cameron's playing time in 2012.
SMU Mustangs RB/FB—Zach Line
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Since the departure of Lawrence Vickers following the 2010 season, Cleveland has been searching for that nasty, bully of a fullback.
The Owen Marecic experiment failed miserably and tight end Alex Smith was a bandaid solution at best.
Zach Line is the only true fullback option to watch at this all-star gathering.
Leading the conference in rushing for the past three seasons with over 1200-yards during each of those campaigns, it is amazing to think that Line will make a better FB in the NFL.
However, at 6'1" and 230 pounds the Mustang back fielder lacks the quickness required to succeed at the next level.
Despite his intimidating frame, Line must turn up the physicality both when clearing lanes or carrying the football.
The SMU senior shows signs of being able to become a bulldozer type for creating space and can also add an effective surprise factor for some short third down runs.
Two areas desperately lacking for the Cleveland Browns last season.
This team should plug the fullback hole with a proven veteran for a couple of years while someone like Line grows into the pro game and eventually the full-time solution.
South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end—Devin Taylor
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Possibly the Browns strongest unit is its defensive line.
Without a set defensive coordinator or scheme the Browns will be focusing on edge pass rushers.
Free agent additions Frostee Rucker and Juqua Parker did a nice job this past season, but a consistent force to harass quarterbacks is still a requirement.
Devin Taylor (DE)—South Carolina Gamecocks
Taylor brings a rare height to defensive end at 6'7". His arm length provides consistent advantages against opposing lineman and the senior also explodes off the snap.
It is that excellent acceleration and pass deflecting abilities, which should really interest the Browns.
The Gamecock does come off as stiff and struggles turning the corner to get into the backfield. These are fixable issues.
Taylor's speed can compensate and allows him to chase down rushers or scrambling quarterbacks.
A.J. Francis (DE/DT)—Maryland Terrapins
Francis' versatility at being able to effectively contribute to both DE and DT is what makes him intriguing to Cleveland.
His experience in 4-3 and 3-4 defensive schemes is valuable for a Browns defense that has not yet decided on a strategy for that side of the football.
Power, speed and swatting down passes all would add to the depth of this club's D-Line.
A bonus is that the Terp is solid on special teams. At 6'4" and 310 pounds he managed to block three kicks in 2012.
Florida Gators linebacker—Lerentee McCray
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The Cleveland Browns are deep at linebacker, but lack a true dominant pass rusher.
More needs to be seen from this past year's class of rookies James-Michael Johnson and Emmanuel Acho, who both suffered from injuries (Acho missed the entire season).
How will Chris Gocong respond from an Achilles injury that stopped him from playing in 2012?
Fresh off the practice squad, Craig Robertson showed flashes of brilliance and L.J. Fort appears to have some upside.
Can either of the two athletes below be a diamond in the rough?
Keith Pough (OLB)—Howard Bisons
The Browns need a physical outside linebacker and Pough fits the mold.
He can zip around the edge and consistently makes tackles for a loss.
The Howard Bison could stand to pack on some meat to his 6'3", 238-pound frame so that he is not out muscled if stuffed at the line.
Pough's pass coverage is a work in progress; however, he possesses enough tools to be NFL game ready.
Lerentee McCray (LB)—Florida Gators
Lining up at inside and strong side LB as well as a pass rushing defensive end gives McCray a utility man value.
Considering Cleveland's injury troubles at the position, someone with his versatility may be worth picking up.
This nasty defender is not afraid to get rough with tight ends and can also force a speedy running back to the inside.
Poor angles and sloppy tackling are the main areas that this 6'3", 249-pound Florida alum must work on.
UCLA Bruins offensive guard—No. 60 Jeff Baca
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Cleveland's offensive line depth is a concern that was exposed with the loss of Jason Pinkston for half the season because of blood clots in his lungs.
John Greco did an admirable job in relief at left guard, but is not a top tier talent.
Jarrod Shaw is still a work in progress and was brought in more as an insurance policy.
At RG, Shawn Lauvao's play is inconsistent and ideally he would slide into a backup role.
Jeff Baca (OG)—UCLA Bruins
Guard, tackle and center are all areas that the 6'3", 298-pound Backa performed well in at UCLA.
The versatile lineman loves to battle in the trenches and eliminate defenders to create rushing lanes.
This could be a perfect later round pick for the Cleveland Browns who need that utility option on the line.
Becoming more disciplined and eliminating penalties will be essential for him to demonstrate to scouts this weekend.
Terron Armstead (T)—Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions
Josh Norris from rotoworld.com commented, "(he) will likely make the move to guard because of his proficiency in blocking on the move."
Browns star running back, Trent Richardson, would be thrilled to have Armstead's ability to lead block at the edge.
Utilizing a 6'5", 310-pound body to create lanes on the inside is another way that he could benefit the running attack.
At times, the Golden Lion can be knocked off his mark on first contact.
Going head-to-head against some of the country's best defenses will give a good idea of where he is at on that particular area of improvement.
Nevada Wolfpack cornerback—No. 5 Khalid Wooten
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Cleveland's secondary is in serious trouble and requires several upgrades this offseason.
The club lost all five games that shutdown cornerback Joe Haden missed in 2012 and substitutions failed miserably.
When No. 23 did play, quarterbacks avoided him and simply threw anywhere else.
At SS, third-year starter T.J. Ward's hard nosed style causes him to get injured frequently. At free safety Usama Young and Eric Hagg are average options at best.
Duke Williams (S)—Nevada Wolf Pack
Duke suffers from big fish in small pond syndrome when it comes to pro scouts.
It is tough to overlook his 2012 numbers of 5.5 tackles for loss (105 total), three forced fumbles, nine pass deflections and an interception.
Williams brings excellent size to the position at 6'0" and 200 pounds and couples that with crushing tackles.
The 22-year-old can effectively disrupt the run at scrimmage, drop back into coverage and shows strong overall awareness
Hard to see where he would not be a good fit on the Cleveland Browns secondary.
Khalid Wooten (CB)—Nevada Wolf Pack
For mid-round selections Cleveland can stay and roll the dice in Nevada.
Joining his Wolf Pack partner, Duke Williams, this cornerback brings the physical attributes (6'0", 200 lbd) necessary to battle today's super athletic NFL receivers.
Wooten's numbers dropped in tackles and interceptions from a breakout 2011 campaign. However, he did increase passes defended to 14.
No. 2 is not the Browns' answer for a dominant corner to go opposite Joe Haden, but is an intriguing option to add depth.
Browns braintrust CEO Joe Banner, head coach Rob Chudzinski and owner Jimmy Haslam III
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The East-West Shrine Game may not be the place to go hunting for first-round picks, but it does provide a look at talented individuals seldom seen on a national stage.
If the Cleveland Browns' scouting crew focuses on the positions and players outlined in this article, then it will go a long way for the Browns to successfully fill those crucial later selections in the upcoming entry draft.
Follow Andy McNamara on Twitter @AndyMc81