Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
There are several glaring holes across the Cleveland Browns roster that must be addressed this offseason. With the transitions in systems factored in, these holes become even more glaring and plentiful than originally anticipated.
Drafting players, especially in the mid- to late rounds, is a dangerous enterprise. Without a second-round pick, Cleveland must find some relief during the free-agency period while supplementing those players with youth through the draft.
The draft will still be key to the immediate and long-term success of the team. The transitions of this offseason, though, make free agency a much more essential route for this organization.
Outside linebacker is definitely one of the team’s biggest concerns heading into the 2013 NFL season. Ray Horton boasts an aggressive, attacking 3-4 defensive scheme that utilizes outside backers to harass and disrupt the quarterback’s timing.
These blitzes also require cornerbacks who are able to play on an island, as blitzes and coverage shifts will often leave them in those situations. With Sheldon Brown more than likely gone and Buster Skrine’s struggles in those situations, there is an immediate need for a starting-quality cornerback to play opposite of Joe Haden.
Fullback must also be addressed this offseason. It’s becoming increasingly clear that second-year back Owen Marecic isn’t in the team’s long-term plans. Marecic struggled with injuries as well as with inconsistencies in blocking and receiving.
Benjamin Watson may have caught his last pass in Cleveland, too, making tight end an immediate need for the team this offseason. Both Norv Turner (Antonio Gates) and Rob Chudzinski (Kellen Winslow Jr. and Greg Olsen) employed multi-skilled, vertical-threat tight ends in their respective offenses.
Wide receiver is also a position of need, but not as big as the others. If the team can find an impact player at the position this offseason, and there are some available, they should pull the trigger to enhance their current crop.