Late-Round Sleepers Who Would Be Perfect for the Cleveland Browns
There are six late-round sleeper draft picks that would be perfect for the Cleveland Browns.
Although we don't know the specific systems that new head coach Mike Pettine will implement, it is clear where depth and improvement are needed on this roster.
The first-round draft choices may get the hype, but it is those selections on Day 3 that can help put a team over the top. It's also where personnel departments are really counted on to make a difference.
For this article, "late-round" shall be defined as players graded as fifth-to-seventh round prospects.
Let's slap on the scouting visor and find some hidden gems for these Cleveland Browns.
Cornelius Lucas: Offensive Tackle
Projected Draft Round: 6-7
The picture in this slide may not suggest it, but Cornelius Lucas turns into a nasty individual once his helmet goes on.
At a massive 6'9" and 328 pounds, the offensive lineman seems to engulf the field with his huge wingspan. He's surprisingly quick and balanced for an athlete that size, which allows him to successfully cut down angles and redirect defenders.
Lucas was named to the Associated Press All-Big 12 Second Team in 2013, and while that is impressive, it's a step down from his first team honors a season earlier.
As is the trouble with many exceptionally tall linemen, this Kansas State Wildcat needs to bend at the knees more, which in turn will improve his leverage on attacking pass-rushers.
Natural athleticism and power give Lucas a high ceiling. He would add needed depth and competition to an overall lackluster Cleveland line.
L'Damian Washington: Wide Receiver
Projected Draft Round: 6-7
There may be no better late-round hidden gem that fits a Browns need than wide receiver L'Damian Washington.
Most, if not all, Day 3 selections in the draft are in need of development or fine-tuning, and Washington is no different.
The 6'4" receiver possesses many of the same physical attributes of Josh Gordon and also shares the similarity of entering the NFL as a raw talent in need of grooming.
This Missouri Tiger is criticized for rounding off routes and not coming back for the ball.
If he has a positive attitude then the increased player accountability talked about during the press conference welcoming new Cleveland head coach Mike Pettine should help break those bad habits.
The 205-pound senior caught 50 balls for 893 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2013. His strength and speed combination allows him to effectively line up outside or in the slot.
On a team screaming for impact playmakers on offense, Washington is an absolute must have.
Bennett Jackson: Cornerback
Projected Draft Round: 5-6
Tall, hard-hitting cornerbacks are all the rage with the success of the Seattle Seahawks' defensive backfield.
A 6'1" CB would be a welcome addition to Cleveland's height-impaired group of corners.
Bennett Jackson was selected to the FBS All-Independent First Team in 2013 because of a successful campaign that saw him tally 64 total tackles, two interceptions and a sack.
A wide receiver in high school, Jackson switched to cornerback at Notre Dame. The senior isn't afraid to go up for the ball and possesses great hands to go along with above-average speed.
The New Jersey native had to wait two years to become a starter and during that time developed into a reliable special teams contributor for the Fighting Irish. The Browns are thin in their secondary and could always use extra assistance on the kicking/punting coverage units.
J.C. Copeland: Fullback
Projected Draft Round: 5-6
Following the Trent Richardson trade, the Browns relied primarily on 32-year old Willis McGahee to carry the load at running back. McGahee's best days were clearly behind him, but not adding a true fullback to help clear lanes was one of the more puzzling decisions made by the front office.
Enter J.C. Copeland.
A possible reincarnation of Lawrence Vickers, the sturdy 6'1", 272-pound fullback is an old school nasty lead blocker. It's exactly what Cleveland's non-existent running game is in dire need of.
The title of Miley Cyrus' song "Wrecking Ball" comes to mind when watching Copeland blast through defensive lines. At LSU, he was typically relied upon to blast open holes and also step back into pass protection.
Copeland didn't receive many handoffs, but when he did the senior was typically utilized in short-yardage situations near the goal line. The Tiger plowed in seven touchdowns on the ground over the past two seasons.
The bruising No. 44 also turned some heads at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl back on Jan. 18 by earning MVP honors. He showcased his offensive prowess by scoring a pair of touchdowns.
This converted defensive tackle is tough, durable, loves contact and seems perfectly built to thrive in the AFC North.
Marcel Jensen: Tight End
Projected Draft Round: 5
Cleveland's offensive strategy for next season is still unknown, but adding in a big pass-catching tight end that can block seems like a good idea regardless.
Huge hands, bulk and overall athleticism make Marcel Jensen an offensive coordinator's dream when conjuring up potential mismatches against opposing defenses.
The 6'6", 270-pound senior is also an asset on run blocks, as he can control and guide defenders to help open up lanes.
It was unfortunate that an abdominal strain sidelined him early in the Senior Bowl practice week and kept him out of the game itself.
Jensen was underutilized in the passing attack during 2013 when Fresno State moved to more of a spread-offense focus. The Senior Bowl would have been a great opportunity to showcase his talents.
The Bulldog stood out as a star on special teams, and that's not just because of his coverage abilities. Jensen's impressive vertical leaping talents allowed him to block four kicks throughout a good collegiate career.
James Wilder Jr.: Running Back
Projected Draft Round: 4-5
The Browns already have finesse runners in Dion Lewis and Edwin Baker on the roster. What they need is a power running back that can slam up the middle and come out the other side.
James Wilder Jr. could very well be that guy.
Wilder is a physical rusher who isn't afraid to use his large 6'2", 229-pound body to fight for extra yards. He demonstrates excellent balance, has a quick first step and can aggressively explode past (or through) would-be tacklers.
The Florida State Seminole split carries with fellow junior Devonta Freeman this season, which resulted in lower than expected statistics. Wilder also battled through a nagging shoulder injury as well as a concussion in 2013.
Some may criticize his durability or question if he can be an every down back. These potential issues would not be a concern in Cleveland because Wilder will be sharing the workload amongst one or two others in the backfield.
Andy McNamara is an international sports broadcaster and journalist
Follow Andy on Twitter @AndyMc81