Browns QB Brandon Weeden at the 2012 Senior Bowl
The 64th annual Senior Bowl is ready to kickoff this Saturday from Mobile, AL.
In-depth practices have been going on all week and this article will serve as a scouting guide for the Cleveland Browns.
Brandon Weeden, Mitchell Schwartz, James-Michael Johnson, Billy Winn, Emmanuel Acho and Brad Smelley saw action in the game and were all selected by the Browns during last year's entry draft.
Since the club is currently without a second round pick, players that are slated to fall into that grouping shall not be discussed in great detail.
Instead, the focus will be on positions that require the most urgent attention.
The full North and South team rosters can be found on Seniorbowl.com
Let's now take a look at which soon to be rookies might be calling Northeast Ohio home in the near future.
San Jose State tight end- Ryan Otten
Big, physical tight ends are the "in" trend around the NFL these days and Ryan Otten certainly meets the qualifications.
Coming out of San Jose State, he was selected to First Team All-Western Athletic Conference.
Otten actually led all tight ends in the country (with at least 40 receptions) in average yards per catch at 15.8.
In head coach Rob Chudzinski's new vertical downfield offense, the 6'6" Spartan could be just what the Browns are looking for.
Improved blocking and ability to eat up linebackers over the middle definitely makes him an intriguing option as long as the current CBS Sports fourth round projection is accurate.
If veteran TE Benjamin Watson's contract is extended then this would give Otten time to learn behind the nine-year pro as well as youngster Jordan Cameron.
This is a best case scenario for the California native as he is still a bit green to be taking snaps with the starters.
Wake Forest fullback- Tommy Bohanon
There is no doubt that the Owen Marecic experiment at fullback failed miserably and that tight end Alex Smith was a plug to get through the season.
Since parting ways with Lawrence Vickers at the end of 2010, the Browns have been searching for that tough, bulldozer of a FB.
Tommy Bohanon could be the answer and is also able to contribute offensively.
Besides being a solid lead blocker, the Wake Forest senior collected 10 career touchdowns (three rushing and seven receiving) in 49 games.
The 6'1, 247-pound Demon Deacon played some tight end as well. For Cleveland scouts, hopefully he is showcased in a more physical role out of the backfield.
With a healthy Trent Richardson rushing the ball in 2013, fullback is not a position the Browns can miss on again.
Kentucky offensive guard- Larry Warford
At 6'3" and a sturdy 343 pounds, Larry 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 whoever is Cleveland's starting quarterback.
The Kentucky guard is often overlooked with the likes of Chance Warmack and Barrett Jones being eligible, but could very well be a steal in this draft.
Projected to go in the late second or early third round, the Wildcat was named to the AP All-American Third Team and was SEC Co-Offensive Lineman of the Week back in September.
The big man can anchor Cleveland's O-line and shove his way to the second level, which will create some much needed larger holes for Richardson to rumble through.
OG is definitely the Browns' thinnest offensive area. However, this does not mean that Joe Banner and company need to select a guard in the first round.
Adding a draft choice like Warford and a free agent such as Andy Levitre, along with the return of a healthy Jason Pinkston, would all of a sudden give this club exceptional depth at the position.
Southern Mississippi State linebacker- Jamie Collins
Ray Horton is the Browns new defensive coordinator and historically favors a 3-4 scheme. This means true pass rushing linebackers just moved up on the to-do list.
That being said, head coach Chudzinski told ESPN radio host Vic Carucci on Jan. 22 that the club will fit their gameplan to best utilize the available talent.
The word "hybrid" has been thrown around as of late so knowing exactly what type of personnel the staff desires is difficult to predict.
If a higher profile LB like Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree or Manti Te'o are not selected in the first round then a more under the radar talent might be an option.
The lone bright spot in Southern Mississippi State's winless season was the play of Jamie Collins.
Converted to an outside linebacker from a defensive back, he led the league in tackles for loss (20) and was selected to the All-Conference USA First Team.
Getting into the backfield and pressuring the quarterback is exactly what the Browns are looking for at LB. Causing four fumbles and swatting down five passes doesn't hurt either.
Collins effectively sheds blockers and possesses excellent acceleration, which he combines with overall power.
The Golden Eagle compliments his edge rushing talent by being able to drop back well into zone coverage.
Cleaning up tackling techniques and improving reaction time when alone in space are two key areas that need to be improved.
Collins brings the raw athletic tools that Cleveland requires in an attacking linebacker.
Once the fundamentals are cleaned up he should develop into a NFL starter down the road.
Agility, speed and terrific instincts would make this Rutgers senior an ideal addition if it wasn't for his lack of size at 6'1" and 236 pounds.
The Scarlet Knight is a sound tackler (averaged over 10 per game) who can cover large areas in a hurry and can get to the quarterback on a consistent basis (5.5 sacks).
However, Cleveland already has smaller linebackers that can get lost in traffic (i.e. Kaluka Maiava) and are really in the market for a big, nasty pass rusher.
Greene is currently slotted as a probable second round selection anyway according to CBS Sports.
Brigham Young defensive end Ezekiel Ansah on the attack
Cleveland's greatest strength is definitely the defensive line.
Former general manager Tom Heckert worked tirelessly to acquire powerful tackles such as Phil Taylor, Ahtyba Rubin, Billy Winn and John Hughes that were the base for their 4-3 scheme.
How Ray Horton's defense will pan out with the Browns is anyone's guess. It is safe to say that adding an aggressive DE to any strategy couldn't hurt.
The Brigham Young defensive end's stock rose rapidly through Senior Bowl practices this week.
NFL Network's Bucky Brooks commented:
"Scouts rave about his raw talent and rush skills despite a limited football background..In fact, the comparisons to Jason Pierre-Paul have been flying off the tongues of evaluators since Ansah started wreaking havoc on opponents in the fall."
Incredibly, the Ghana native began playing football in 2010 and only became a starter this past year. Ansah would be an exciting moldable chunk of clay for the Browns or any DC around the league.
Apart of BYU's third ranked defense this season, he totaled 4.5 sacks, 13 tackles for loss and eight pass breakups.
His addition to an already stellar corps has the potential to give Cleveland the most dangerous line in the AFC.
Balance, size, agility and power combined with non-stop hustle all add up to a possible top 15 draft rating once the weekend is finished.
Only real downside is Ansah's lack of experience and the needed fine tuning that goes along with that.
At 6'5" this Illinois Fighting Illini possesses the length to keep opposing linemen at a distance before storming past them into the backfield.
Solid north/south and lateral movement coupled with good bursts of speed could make him an interesting middle round choice in the upcoming NFL entry draft for Cleveland.
Dane Brugler of CBS Sports explains a weakness:
"Buchanan doesn't have elite bulk and lacks the body type to add much more muscle and will be labeled by some teams as a hybrid player."
The "hybrid" stigma may actually prove to be a positive for the Browns.
The new coaching staff have stated on numerous occasions that the defense will consist of multiple looks and not be a straight 3-4 or 4-3.
This gives a versatile edge rusher like Buchanan a place to grow and eventually thrive.
Oregon State cornerback- Jordan Poyer
Dee Milliner out of Alabama should still be number one on Cleveland's radar when it comes to defensive backs.
The BCS champion CB is a junior and therefore not eligible to participate in this Saturday's matchup.
Besides Joe Haden and T.J. Ward, the Browns' secondary is in shambles.
Opposing quarterbacks have learned to stay away from Haden's side of the field in favor of assaulting slower or undersized corners.
When healthy, Ward can be one of the best strong safeties in the division. His aggressive style results in various injuries, but the real upgrade is needed at the FS position.
Let's look at the top cornerback and free safety that this team must scout heavily at the Senior Bowl.
Jordan Poyer (CB)
An arrest for an alleged bar fight back in May 2012, could cause teams to pause in making Jordan Poyer a first round selection.
What made this season impressive for the senior is that he was able to rise to the occasion when cornerback partner, Brandon Hardin, went down from a broken shoulder during camp in August.
A fast, aggressive, ball hawking cornerback is exactly what the Browns are looking for.
Being 6'0" and a technically sound tackler provides this Beaver alum the tools to match up against speedy outside receivers.
A bonus is that Poyer is also a superb kick/punt returner.
CBS Sports currently ranks him as the fifth best CB coming out of college.
Having a standout Senior Bowl would give Poyer some momentum to climb up a few spots on the draft board.
T.J. McDonald (FS)
One T.J. is good, would two be better in the Browns' secondary?
McDonald is best known as a physical run defender with exceptional downhill acceleration.
The Pac-12 free safety from Southern California University has the potential to be an immediate improvement over current defenders Usama Young and Eric Hagg.
In mock drafts Eric Reid may be getting all the attention, but T.J. could turn out to be the better pro.
Where Reid is high-risk, high-reward with his intensity, McDonald is a more consistent and complete player.
His naturally long 6'3", 205-pound frame also enables for effective breaking up of passes and interfering with receivers routes.
Don't be surprised to see the Trojan creep up to the first round.
The stern face of Browns CEO Joe Banner who will be watching this Senior Bowl closely
As the premier all-star game to showcase collegiate talent, thorough scouting at the Senior Bowl is essential for any franchise.
Focusing on the key positions and players discussed throughout this article will give Cleveland a solid base to build upon heading into the NFL Combine at the end of February.
Quarterback and wide receiver are two areas that should not be targeted during this offseason's draft process.
The crew of Brandon Weeden, Colt McCoy and Thad Lewis provide adequate coverage at QB for 2013. If a fresh face is required then a free agent can always be brought in to compete.
An exciting corps of young receivers, led by Josh Gordon, provides optimism for the future of Cleveland's offensive attack.
However, this group would benefit more from the addition of a proven veteran that can lead by example rather than another inexperienced speedster.
The Senior Bowl airs at 3pm, Saturday Jan. 26 on the NFL Network.
Follow Andy McNamara on Twitter @AndyMc81