NFL Draft Picks Who Would Be Instant Starters for the Cleveland Browns

Andy McNamaraCorrespondent IIJanuary 28, 2013

NFL Draft Picks Who Would Be Instant Starters for the Cleveland Browns

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    As the NFL Combine rapidly approaches and college football officially over, the focus intensifies on who the next crop of stars will be.

    For a young club like the Cleveland Browns potential instant starters need to be identified to get the most out of this upcoming draft.

    Positions such as cornerback, outside linebacker, fullback and even punter all require significant upgrades in order to make 2013 a turnaround season.

    This article will detail NCAA talent that can make an immediate impact and fit best into Cleveland's different systems.


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    The current personnel at free safety of Usama Young and Eric Hagg are serviceable, but certainly not above average.

    An upgrade is definitely in order and the two men listed below could be day one starters.


    Kenny Vaccaro

    The size and athleticism of Kenny Vaccaro (6'1", 218-pounds) gives Cleveland the option to use him at either free or strong safety.

    This Texas Longhorn is a clean tackler who always wraps up his man. Vaccaro decided to return for his senior year and the positive effects of that extra seasoning are shining through.

    He was tops on the team at 81 tackles and intercepted two passes, returning one for a score in 2012.

    That combined with split second reaction time, a ball hawk mentality and natural on-field leadership is why his draft stock catapulted up to a projected first-round pick.


    Eric Reid

    This LSU Tiger started all 13 games this season where he finished third on the team in tackles (91).

    The first-team All-American also amassed seven pass breakups, a pair of interceptions and recovered a fumble.

    Eric Reid is used almost as an extra linebacker at times to stuff the run, however, he can equally stay back and cover the deep threat.

    The junior FS is often considered the nastiest hitter in the SEC. While this does make Reid a feared defender it also gets him into undisciplined penalty trouble.

    Offenses have been able to use his over eagerness against him by getting creative with misdirection and fake outs.

    The 6'2" Reid is day one starting material for the Browns and that fierce aggressiveness would fit right in with defensive coordinator Ray Horton's style.

    The question is whether his emotions can be reigned in enough to be a consistent playmaker at the next level.


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    The fullback spot is wide open on the Cleveland Browns.

    Previous starter Owen Marecic was benched part way through the season and tight end fill in Alex Smith is not a long-term solution.

    This is an area that the team cannot afford to miss on again.

    Wake Forest's Tommy Bohanon could be the answer.

    He performed well in the Senior Bowl game and also throughout the week of practices.

    The 6'1", 247-pound Demon Deacon played some tight end in his collegiate career before focusing more on fullback.

    Bohanon can be a surprise offensive treat for the Browns if his 10 touchdowns (seven receiving and three rushing) over 49 contests converts to the pro level.

    Most importantly is that the Florida native is a solid lead blocker and as tough as a two dollar steak.

    Running back Trent Richardson should be back healthy in 2013 and is going to need a lane clearing workhorse to capitalize on his limitless potential.


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    Cleveland's Reggie Hodges may be a great guy in the clubhouse, but that doesn't help his ranking of 33rd among NFL punters with an average of 41.8 yards per punt.

    His contract is now up and a change needs to be made.

    Enter Louisiana Tech leg man and Senior Bowl invitee Ryan Allen.

    The Bulldog averaged an impressive 49.23 yards per punt and demonstrated steady improvement throughout his collegiate stay.

    Allen couples distance kicking with lofty hang times, and that makes him the total package.

    He is an immediate improvement and can be an instant starter for the Browns.


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    Chance Warmack

    Gaining depth at guard is definitely on the Browns to-do list, and a big check mark would be ticked by selecting Chance Warmack.

    A key part of the highly effective Alabama offensive line, he was selected to four different All-American teams in 2012.

    A stocky 6'2", 322 pounds, Warmack is surprisingly light on his feet and is able to take out linebackers at the second level.

    The Crimson Tide OG shows equal ability to anchor himself against the bull rush or spring off the snap to provide stable pass protection.

    Simply put, Warmack is the most NFL ready guard in this draft.

    Joining left tackle Joe Thomas, center Alex Mack and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz immediately gives Cleveland the best O-line in the AFC North.


    Jonathan Cooper

    Ranked second at the position by CBS Sports, Jonathan Cooper graded out at 90 percent on the season and recorded double digit knockdown blocks in nine outings.

    Selected to five different all-star teams this season, the North Carolina guard impresses with excellent foot work, balance and blocking on the move.

    Although the 6'3", 310-pound lineman lacks elite strength he does consistently clear paths and gets to the next layer of defenders.

    The Tar Heel was an integral part to his team averaging 193.8 yards rushing per game.

    Surely Trent Richardson and offensive coordinator Norv Turner wouldn't mind that type of experience wearing the orange helmet.


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    Incoming defensive coordinator Ray Horton's flip from a 4-3 to a 3-4 strategy means that this Browns club needs some big, physical linebackers in a hurry. 

    Bringing a dominant pass rush and being comfortable in a 3-4 scheme are two areas that the Browns will find very interesting in Jarvis Jones.

    This first-team All-SEC junior broke Georgia's single season sack record in 2012 with 14.5. He also decimated offenses via 24.5 tackles for loss, seven forced fumbles and an interception.

    The Bulldog is a versatile defender who can drop back into coverage and use his explosiveness to make plays all over the field.

    NFL scouts only real concern comes down to Jones' health.

    He underwent neck surgery in his freshman year, was diagnosed with career-threatening spinal stenosis and missed some time thanks to an ankle injury.

    Can "Double J" handle the rigorous NFL schedule?

    The 6'3", 241-pound outside linebacker would instantly be the second best LB in the unit next to veteran D'Qwell Jackson.

    Possessing all the physical tools of a future Pro Bowl defender may be enough for Cleveland to overlook the medical issues.


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    The need for a true shutdown corner to go opposite Joe Haden is this team's most pressing need on either side of the ball.

    Sheldon Brown can still be productive if used in the slot or at free safety, but he is clearly not fast enough to handle the outside anymore. 


    Dee Milliner

    The national champion from Alabama has the size, speed and overall athleticism to solve Cleveland's CB problem from day one. 

    This stud cornerback is not afraid to initiate contact in defending against the run and makes opposing quarterbacks pay if challenging him through the air.

    Earning a unanimous vote to first-team All-SEC in 2012, Dee Milliner led the conference with 22 passes defended, posted four tackles for loss and intercepted two passes.

    With few weaknesses in his game there is no doubt that the 6'1", 199-pound junior is NFL ready.


    Desmond Trufant

    Perhaps the fastest rising star in this year's cornerback class, Desmond Trufant wowed scouts at the Senior Bowl. analyst Dane Brugler commented:

    His athleticism and awareness have been superb, playing tight coverage at the line of scrimmage and downfield. Trufant has shown very good route anticipation to stay balanced and attack the ball when it's in the air...An excellent senior season coupled with his performance in Mobile makes Trufant a hot name among scouting circles.

    The Washington Huskies alum comes from quite the pedigree as brothers Marcus (Seattle Seahawks) and Isaiah (New York Jets) both play in the NFL.

    At 5'11" and 190 pounds, he brings valuable experience playing in both zone and man concepts.

    Trufant may not be as high profile a name as Dee Milliner, but is certainly able to be a starter at outside CB for the Browns.

Final Thoughts

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    Although the 2013 draft class does not have a clear number one or two choice like Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, it will still provide some immensely talented impact players.

    First time owner Jimmy Haslam will initially judge his new regime on how many quality starters end up being selected.

    Going after anyone outlined in this article would be a good place to start.


    Follow Andy McNamara on Twitter @AndyMc81