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Who Will Be the Cleveland Browns' Starting CB Opposite Joe Haden in 2013?

Mike HoagCorrespondent IIMay 4, 2013

Who Will Be the Cleveland Browns' Starting CB Opposite Joe Haden in 2013?

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    Ray Horton's attacking 3-4 defense figures to help out the young Cleveland Browns secondary in 2013.

    Despite that added assistance, the Browns must still find a competent corner to start opposite of Joe Haden at right cornerback.

    Third-round pick Leon McFadden could be the front-runner after the team's recent investment in him. Corners sometimes take longer to be NFL-ready than some other positions, so we won't crown him the starter just yet.

    Who else is there on their roster, or not on their roster, who could challenge the rookie for snaps this season?

    There is always the possibility of a trade or free agent being signed. Young and promising cornerbacks may get caught up in the numbers game, allowing the Browns to swoop in and make a deal.

    Sophomore defensive back Johnson Bademosi played some corner in spot relief last season and Buster Skrine is battle-tested as well.

    Free-agent acquisition Chris Owens could also be in the mix.

    Let's take a look at who will most likely come away with the starting spot once opening day comes around. You might be surprised with who you'll find at the top.

6. Free Agent

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    Sheldon Brown is 34 years old and the Cleveland Browns appear to have no interest in re-signing the veteran cornerback. That commitment to the youth movement in their secondary means that bringing in a free-agent corner is very unlikely.

    Quentin Jammer, who is also 34, has lost a step or two as well and remains unsigned. It would be very surprising if the team traded one veteran whose best days are behind him for another.

    Signing a free agent seems highly unlikely at this point, as most of the top talent has already been nabbed.

5. Chris Owens

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    Chris Owens, a former slot cornerback in Atlanta, was benched during his time there after repeatedly being abused. He played sparingly the rest of the way in dime packages.

    Owens might compete for a roster spot with Trevin Wade, but he won't likely be in the running for the starting right cornerback job.

4. Trade

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    The Cleveland Browns have trade chips that they could use in order to procure a starting-caliber cornerback if they decide to do so before the start of the 2013 season.

    They traded away picks in this year's draft in order to acquire additional third- and fourth-round selections next year. Those picks, along with a player or two, could be dealt for a young and promising talent who finds himself in a depth chart logjam this summer.

    A good but risky option might be St. Louis' Trumaine Johnson. As a rookie last season, he recorded three starts and racked up over 30 tackles and two interceptions while playing primarily in the slot.

    Johnson has the size and ability to potentially be a very good outside defender. However, he does come with some baggage. He was recently charged with misdemeanor DUI in March and has a short history of run-ins with the law.

    The Rams are set at their starting corner positions and drafted former Miami Hurricanes CB Brandon McGee in the fifth round as a potential security blanket should they deal Johnson.

    Cleveland could potentially acquire Johnson for a late-round pick and hope he gets his act together.

3. Buster Skrine

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    Cleveland Browns cornerback Buster Skrine is a tenacious defender who is willing in run support and all over the field in coverage. He plays tight and aggressive and uses his top-end speed to stick with receivers.

    The problem for Skrine might be that he's too aggressive.

    His aggressiveness and ability to step up and make plays in run defense makes him a top candidate for the slot this season. He was beaten by bigger receivers last season when thrust in the right and left cornerback positions.

    While he is slowly becoming a solid professional, Skrine shouldn't be the team's go-to option for right cornerback this season.

2. Leon McFadden

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    Rookie cornerback Leon McFadden may eventually slide into the right cornerback position for the Cleveland Browns. He might even do it during his rookie season, but it's hard to imagine him coming in and blowing away the competition from Day 1.

    Not all third-round picks are expected to step into the breach from the get-go.

    McFadden is a smaller corner, but he plays with the attitude and athletic ability necessary to survive on an island in the NFL. His toughness will also come into play, as he will have to battle for four quarters with bigger-bodied receivers at this level.

    The Browns may ask that of him, but they could also be flexible, as he excels in reading quarterbacks' eyes while sitting in zone coverage.

    Cleveland got itself a player with tremendous potential who could soon become its answer on the outside.

1. Johnson Bademosi

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    Former undrafted free-agent safety Johnson Bademosi was a terror on special teams for the Cleveland Browns in 2012. The physically gifted Bademosi (6'0", 200 lbs.) flashed enormous potential by looking like the best athlete on the field during special teams plays.

    He wasn't limited to coverage team action either. Bademosi got his shot at cornerback, albeit in a limited capacity, during the Browns' Week 11 OT loss in Dallas. He played a total of 24 snaps at cornerback in that contest, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

    Sheldon Brown went down with an injury late in the game and was replaced by Bademosi after Buster Skrine slid into his left cornerback position.

    Dallas ignored the youngster initially, but eventually turned its sights on him.

    Tony Romo attempted five consecutive passes in his direction. Three of the first four attempts were completed underneath patterns that Bademosi held in front of him. Regardless, the Cowboys were moving the football as the young corner tried to get his bearings.

    After the first two completions, Romo took a deep shot intended for Miles Austin. Bademosi didn't bite and stayed with Austin stride for stride down the sideline as the pass fell incomplete.

    His biggest test came on 3rd-and-2 from the Browns' 41-yard line. Romo dropped back and immediately turned to attempt a quick slant to Dez Bryant for an easy first down. A completion would have likely ended the Browns' hopes of coming away with the win.

    Bademosi reacted to Romo's quick movement and closed quickly to break up the pass and force a Cowboys punt.

    While that was the extent of his experience last season, he did show incredible potential to match his tenacious effort on special teams. Combine all of those traits with his athletic ability and size and it's hard to imagine him not being a realistic option for the Browns this season.

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