Will they draft the best player available on their board? Or, more likely, will they trade down in order to gain a much needed second-round pick?
One more solid draft could be enough to complete the re-building process that Tom Heckert started in Berea just a few seasons ago.
Cornerback is also a big need. Despite signing two corners in free agency, there doesn’t appear to be a starting caliber player on the Browns roster to field opposite of Joe Haden.
The team also tried to ink recovering cornerback Brent Grimes, but he opted to take his talents to South Beach on a one-year contract instead of coming to Cleveland.
Does the need for a No. 2 cornerback take precedence over getting to the passer? Is it crucial to have two elite cornerbacks in today’s NFL?
We’ll examine the top options that should be available and the odds of each becoming the Browns’ first-round selection in the following slideshow.
Dee Milliner, CB
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The 2013 class of cornerbacks is believed to be stocked. However, nobody in the field can hold a flame to former Alabama standout Dee Milliner.
Milliner is the real deal. He has the size, closing speed and ball skills that teams look for in a cornerback. While he is good in coverage, he’s also strong and is willing to step up and take on blockers to spoil developing running plays.
Picking him at No. 6 overall would give the Cleveland Browns one of the best cornerback tandems in the NFL. Pairing Milliner and Joe Haden would be a dream come true for defensive coordinator Ray Horton.
Their ability to individually lock-down receivers would allow Horton to pin his defense’s ears back and get after the quarterback with a multitude of exotic and confusing blitz packages.
There are two problems with the team taking him here, though. First, he may not even be on the board when it becomes the Browns’ turn to step up to the podium. Next, the team may not want to invest another top-10 pick on a cornerback—like they did with Haden in 2010—when there are other question marks on the roster.
If he’s there, though, it would be increasingly hard for this team to pass up the opportunity to draft him. Milliner makes the pass-rush better with his coverage ability, and vice-versa.
Odds that he's the pick: 30 percent
Dion Jordan, OLB/DE
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Whether or not the Cleveland Browns feel safe with Jabaal Sheard and Paul Kruger as their primary outside linebackers will be the X-factor when trying to determine their 2013 draft plans.
Sheard was touted as being able to make the conversion from defensive end to outside linebacker during the draft process in 2011. Kruger, who stood out for the Baltimore Ravens during their 2012 Super Bowl run, is not exactly a proven performer as an every-down player.
That leaves a pretty sizable question mark for the Browns to address during the draft. Fortunately, this draft is definitely full of potentially explosive pass-rushing options.
Of the bunch, former Oregon defensive end Dion Jordan appears to have the biggest upside. Jordan, like Milliner, may not be on the board by the time the Browns pick at No. 6. If he is, though, the team will have a tough decision to make.
Jordan’s athleticism and versatility would be a huge plus for new defensive coordinator Ray Horton. Being able to get to the passer and play in space makes him one of the best options for a team that will be transitioning to a new scheme next season.
Sure, they could roll the dice with what they’ve got. But, passing up a player like Jordan, if available, could come back to haunt them if things don’t go as planned.
Odds that he's the pick: 25 percent
Ezekiel Ansah, DE
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Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah is as raw as they come when it comes to potential pass-rushing options for the Cleveland Browns.
Ansah doesn’t have a lot of proven production—starting just one year in college at BYU—but his athletic ability and potential are off of the charts.
That potential may be something that the team sees and targets if they decide to trade down from the sixth overall selection. While Ansah may be off of the board by the time the Browns are back on the clock, having him there would be an intriguing option for the team.
His 6’5”, 271-pound frame isn’t set in stone, either. He bulked up his senior year, added power and flashed flexibility by lining up all over BYU’s defense.
If the Browns can harness Ansah’s power and define a role for him in their new 3-4 defense, he could very well be the selection at either No. 6 overall or in a trade-down scenario.
Odds that he's the pick: 15 percent
Tyler Eifert, TE
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Tight end is an important position for Norv Turner and Rob Chudzinski’s offense. In past seasons, the two offensive-minded coaches have employed Kellen Winslow II, Antonio Gates and Greg Olsen as staples of their respective offenses.
The Cleveland Browns currently have three tight ends on their roster, and two of them (Gary Barnidge and Kellen Davis) were recently picked up via free agency on one-year deals.
Jordan Cameron, a former fourth-round pick and basketball convert, is expected to take over the duties as the team’s primary tight end. However, Cameron hasn’t proven to be up to the challenge of being a reliable receiving and blocking option for the Browns.
His inability to stay healthy through two NFL seasons is also troubling. With Davis’ well-documented struggles in Chicago and Barnidge’s underwhelming ceiling, the Browns could certainly look to the best tight end in this draft in the first round, Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert.
Eifert would immediately give the team a huge boost at the position.
Tight end isn’t a glaring need for Cleveland, but after a trade down, the team could still upgrade the position by adding the tall, powerful and athletic tight end to its roster.
Odds that he's the pick: 10 percent
Tavon Austin, WR
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Big plays and scoring points have been absent from the Cleveland Browns’ repertoire for as long as we can remember. How better to remedy that than by selecting Tavon Austin, one of the most dynamic playmakers in the 2013 draft class?
Austin has some concerns, but they mostly stem from his small frame.
However, weighing in at 174 pounds with a 5’8” frame makes him a pretty “full-bodied” athlete. Sure, the size and weight differential will be there in the NFL, but he can still fill out nicely, and he has the toughness to battle with any talent at the next level.
Austin’s explosiveness in space would be a huge asset for the Browns that is only rivaled by his versatility. The team could use him as a change-of-pace option for Trent Richardson on one series and then line him up in the slot on another. Then, they could spread him out wide and have him challenge the defense’s best defenders over the top.
He’s a player that simply must be accounted for. If the Browns had someone like that, they could open things up for their other talented and young offensive weapons.
A trade down would likely precede the Browns drafting Austin, and even then, the chances probably aren’t that high that he would be taken given the team’s needs elsewhere.
Odds that he's the pick: 5 percent
Barkevious Mingo, OLB
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For a team that is desperately trying to get over the hump, taking a prospect like Barkevious Mingo may not be a luxury that the Cleveland Browns have this year.
Mingo certainly has the potential to be a disruptive force as a stand-up pass-rusher in the team’s new 3-4 defensive scheme. His long, athletic and powerful build makes him a highly desirable option.
However, Mingo didn’t progress with an effective pass-rush technique during his career at LSU. He relied heavily on being able to beat his man off of the ball in order to get to the quarterback. That will work, at times, at the next level, but he will be lining up against better opposition.
Cleveland will have better and safer options than Mingo when they pick at No. 6, but they could still roll the dice if they see enough potential to match with his raw ability.
Odds he's the pick: 5 percent
Chance Warmack, G
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Chance Warmack is a mauler of an offensive guard. Still, that doesn’t mean that the Cleveland Browns should cash in a first-round pick in order to draft another offensive lineman, though.
A trade-down scenario may increase the odds of them picking Warmack, but he might not be around depending on how far down in the first round the trade down would send them.
The Browns had the fifth-best offensive line in the NFL last season, according to analysis and rankings by Pro Football Focus, and that was without Jason Pinkston at guard. Pinkston missed the entire season and John Greco filled in admirably in his absence.
They could see a game-changer in Warmack here, but there is better value in looking to add depth at the position in the middle rounds.
Odds that he's the pick: 5 percent
Jarvis Jones, OLB
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Jarvis Jones has slowly but surely worked his way out of the top-10. Gil Brandt of NFL.com said that he wasn’t sure if Jones was even a first-round talent at all anymore.
The controversial outside linebacker excelled in Georgia’s stout 3-4 defense, but his medical condition—which seems to no longer be an issue—made some teams skeptical about drafting the pass-rusher.
That was before his extremely poor effort and showing at Georgia’s pro day. Rich Cimini of ESPN New York tweeted that one scout told him that Jones had a "terrible" performance.
Despite checking out medically, Jones’ poor pro day has forced a lot of people to take a closer look at his success with Georgia. Was he a disruptive force that can transition to the next level and wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks, or did he benefit from a strong scheme and excellent teammates that helped inflate his stock?
These are questions that we have to ask after recent events and questions that may deter teams from gambling on Jones.
Odds that he's the pick: 4 percent
Geno Smith, QB
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From the looks of things, Brandon Weeden will compete with Jason Campbell for the Cleveland Browns starting quarterback job in 2013. Still, the team would be wise to explore mid-to-late round options in the event that neither of the two aforementioned players impress.
Weeden, a first-round pick in 2012, has shown some promise and does fit in Norv Turner’s vertical offense.
While the Browns have expressed enough interest in Geno Smith to schedule a private workout, the chances of them actually selecting him are pretty low.
If nothing else, the team is positioning itself to trade the No. 6 overall selection if Smith—for some reason—is still on the board at that point.
Odds that he's the pick: 1 percent