Cleveland Browns Day 3 2014 NFL Draft Primer

Wes StueveContributor IIIMay 10, 2014

Cleveland Browns Day 3 2014 NFL Draft Primer

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    USA TODAY Sports

    After two days of the 2014 NFL draft, the Cleveland Browns are set to enter day three with two draft picks. Cleveland has had an exciting draft, making four trades through the first three rounds and drafting five players. 

    In the first round, Cleveland added Justin Gilbert and Johnny Manziel. They followed up on day two by drafting Joel Bitonio, Christian Kirksey and Terrance West. 

    Oh, and news came out that Josh Gordon is likely to be suspended for the entire 2014 season, per T.J. Quinn and Don Van Natta Jr. of ESPN.com.

    Despite this and the already-present hole at wide receiver, the Browns have not added a wideout through the first three rounds.

    Surely, Cleveland will look to address the position soon, right? 

    Maybe, but given the way this draft has gone for the Browns, it would be foolish to count on anything.

Day 2 Recap & Analysis

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    The Browns started off day two unexpectedly by drafting an offensive lineman in Joel Bitonio. There isn't a problem with that pick. Bitonio was a good value at the top of the second round, and he addressed a big need for Cleveland. The Browns could get a wide receiver later.

    Bitonio is the type of athletic offensive lineman Cleveland needed to fill in at guard. He will start immediately and should have a huge impact on the team's run game. 

    Then, in the third round, Cleveland again passed on a wide receiver, this time opting for a linebacker in Christian Kirksey. Once again, linebacker was a position of need and many analysts expected Kirksey to come off the board in the third round. 

    A great coverage linebacker, Kirksey should be on the field as a rookie. Browns fans saw Craig Robertson get burnt all over the field in 2013, so the upgrade is welcome. However, everyone is thinking, "just when is this team going to take a wide receiver?"

    Finally, the Browns trade back into the third round. Surely it's for a wide receiver.

    No, it's a running back.

    It's beginning to sound repetitive, but once more, in isolation, both the player and position make sense. Cleveland doesn't have a competent second runner behind the unproven Ben Tate, and Terrance West was a good value in the third round.

    As a power back with vision, West fits the Browns' scheme. He will start off by backing up Tate and could eventually supplant him as the primary ball-carrier. There are no problems with any of that.

    The only problem with what the Browns have done is they have failed to address the wide receiver position. It was concerning before news of Gordon's impending suspension and now it is dire. This is desperate.

    It would, however, be unfair to not give Ray Farmer credit for having a plan. He seems like a smart guy, and his maneuvering of the first round was nothing if not masterful. He deserves the opportunity to show he knows what he is doing at wide receiver.

    Admittedly, such a plan is not yet apparent, and it may not pop up during the draft at all. However, it would be a foolish mistake to assume that Farmer is blowing this draft by not picking wide receivers.

Updated Needs for Cleveland

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    Wide Receiver

    This has only become more of a priority. The Browns have not yet added any wide receivers and news broke that Josh Gordon is likely to be suspended for the 2014 season.

    Without their All-Pro wide receiver, Cleveland has next to nothing at wideout. Andrew Hawkins is a capable slot receiver, and that's about it. Yet he stands as the Browns' best wide receiver.

    Cleveland desperately needs to do something here. Whether it is by drafting players or working trades, the Browns need to acquire multiple players.

     

    Safety

    It's difficult to say whether Tashaun Gipson's breakout season in 2013 was a sign of things to come or a lone solid performance. Gipson played well last year, no doubt, but he isn't such a proven player that the Browns shouldn't look at insurance.

    Additionally, Cleveland does not have much in the way of safety depth. If either Gipson or Donte Whitner goes down, the team is in trouble.

     

    Tight End

    After Jordan Cameron, Cleveland has almost nothing here. Gary Barnidge had all of 2013 to prove he was a capable backup and instead proved the exact opposite. Jim Dray is nothing more than a blocking tight end.

    The Browns could use a well-rounded player here, but they would probably settle for a capable receiver. Cameron isn't much of a blocker, so someone who could play in-line and block while also being a receiving threat would be welcome.

     

    Outside Linebacker

    Right now, this isn't a huge concern. But it could be a much bigger issue in a year when Jabaal Sheard hits free agency. 

    At the moment, Cleveland has a strong unit in Sheard, Paul Kruger, Barkevious Mingo and Quentin Groves. Groves isn't anything more than a backup, however, and a team can never have enough pass-rushers.

     

    Inside Linebacker

    Even after drafting Christian Kirksey in the third round, Cleveland isn't set at the position. Karlos Dansby is a no-doubt solid starter, but Craig Robertson is nothing more than a backup, and Kirksey may not be anything more than a situational player.

    With Kirksey likely playing in nickel situations, the Browns could use a more solid run defender. This isn't a big enough concern that Cleveland will look there again during the draft, but it is something to watch.

Top Day 3 Targets

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    Round 4

    Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina

    It's obvious that Cleveland will at least be looking at wide receivers during the third day. The Browns may prefer a bigger wideout, but it would be difficult to pass on someone of Ellington's caliber. 

    The South Carolina product is undersized, measuring in at just 5'9", but he is explosive and fast. At this point, Cleveland can't afford to be too picky—they need good receivers, regardless of their size.

     

    Kevin Norwood, WR, Alabama

    Norwood is bigger than Ellington, weighing in at 6'2" and 200 pounds. The Alabama product obviously has good size, and he is also fast. Additionally, Norwood's hands and body control are both solid. A Norwood selection would address a need for Cleveland, but there is no problem with picking him at this point in the draft.

     

    Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson

    A 6'4", 210-pound receiver, Bryant is tall and long but lacks ideal bulk. Bryant also possesses the speed to get downfield and the body control to make acrobatic catches. He is far from a sure thing, like every player still available in the fourth round but at least he has upside.

     

    Round 7

    Jeff Janis, WR, Saginaw Valley State

    Janis is another developmental wide receiver with size. The 6'3", 220-pounder is a tremendous athlete but not much of a wide receiver. He needs a ton of work. In the seventh round, though, teams take upside where they can get it.

     

    Jake Murphy, TE, Utah

    Murphy is a decent athlete with great hands. He isn't really an in-line tight end like the Browns may want, but he is at least a capable receiver who can play both out of the backfield and split out.

     

    Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon

    If it weren't for character issues, Lyerla would be gone by now. At 6'4", 240 pounds, he isn't especially big, but he is a tremendous athlete with the ability to move all over the field. Cleveland may not like his attitude, but in the seventh round, his talent and fit with Johnny Manziel would be tempting. 

What Are the Experts Saying?

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    In his seven-round mock draft, B/R's Matt Miller projected Caraun Reid to the Browns 

    Cleveland has just two day three picks left, as opposed to the five they had when Matt made his mock draft. As such, the Browns can no longer afford a luxury pick such as a nose tackle. Cleveland has a capable nose tackle in Phil Taylor and much bigger needs to address. This would be a shock.

     

    Miller also gave the Browns Ryan Grant

    This is a pick that remains possible. Cleveland's biggest need, by far, is at wide receiver, a position Grant happens to play. The Tulane receiver is a decent player in the seventh round and could provide much-needed depth for the Browns. It's impossible to say what wideout Cleveland may want in the seventh, but this position makes sense.

     

    Peter Schrager of Fox Sports projected Jemea Thomas to Cleveland

    Since the Browns have already selected a cornerback in Justin Gilbert and have much bigger needs, this is another pick that no longer seems to have much of a chance of happening. The Browns simply have more important issues to address than cornerback depth. Here, Schrager ran into the same problem of the Browns not having as many late picks as they did at first.

     

    Schrager predicted Anthony Johnson for the Browns

    Like Miller's projection of Reid, this one no longer makes sense. A lot has changed since Schrager made his mock draft, and a defensive tackle no longer seems like an option. The Browns actually have great defensive line depth, so they would be much better off looking elsewhere. 

3 Predictions for Day 3

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    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    The Browns will draft a wide receiver

    This one has to happen, right? Cleveland has gone the first three rounds without addressing its biggest non-quarterback need before the draft. Since Josh Gordon is likely to not be a factor in 2014, the position is shockingly worse off than it was before the draft.

    It is possible that Cleveland won't take a wideout with its first pick on day three, but the team almost has to look there eventually.

     

    Cleveland will make another trade

    So far, the Browns have made at least one trade on each day of the draft, though they made three during the first round. Look for this to continue, as they perhaps try to regain some of the picks they gave up in addition for higher draft picks.

    Cleveland still has enough needs that it could use more than two draft picks. A move to acquire either more picks or a veteran player would not be surprising.

     

    The Browns will not draft another defensive player

    At this point, Cleveland has addressed the defensive side of the ball with two picks. That may not seem like many, but the Browns' biggest issue was without a doubt their offense.

    Cleveland no longer has a huge need along the defensive side of the ball, and the team still has big holes on offense. This is just a logical way to approach the final day of the draft.

Updated Browns Mock Draft

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    Round 4, Pick No. 127: Kevin Norwood, WR, Alabama

    With his 6'2, 200-pound frame, Norwood has starter potential. Cleveland probably wants a big wide receiver to play on the outside, and Norwood can develop into that player.

    Norwood's hands and body control are both solid attributes to go along with his size and decent speed. He isn't overly explosive, though, and he will need to work on his route running in order to separate. 

     

    Round 7, Pick No. 218: Jeff Janis, WR, Saginaw Valley State

    It is difficult to find receivers this late who are as naturally talented as Janis is. Janis needs a ton of work before he is capable of even contributing, but his combination of size and athleticism is tremendous. In the seventh round, raw skills like these are good enough to justify draft picks.