The AFC North is home to reigning AFC Champion Pittsburgh Steelers, but every team in the division has holes on the depth chart that could keep them from competing for a championship in 2011.
In year two of the Holmgren-Browns era, the team will be leaning on Colt McCoy. The offensive line is solid on the left side, but in real trouble on the right. The running game was fantastic in 2010 and should be better in 2011 but the Browns lack a playmaker at the receiver position. The defensive line is in total shambles but this is a strong year for defensive lineman so the Browns could be set after only one draft.
Colt McCoy was more impressive than I think anyone would have imagined for the Texas product in 2010. McCoy has a long way to go but he should get the benefit of the doubt in Cleveland for at least another year.
That being said, the Browns may not draft a future starting quarterback but the team does need depth. Jake Delhomme proved last year that his career has come to an end, and Seneca Wallace has greater aspirations for his playing career than to be the backup in Cleveland. (5/9)
The trade of the century will have to go to the Browns for getting Peyton Hillis for Brady Quinn. Hillis had an awesome 2010, posting the 11th-most yards and fourth-most touchdowns. The Browns were actually expecting Montario Hardesty to be their starter come week one but lost the back to injury in the offseason.
Now it appears the Browns could have a very strong run game with both back healthy in 2011. No need to spend time looking through the draft for running backs this year. (3/9)
Receiver has to be the top need for this team, flowed closely by linebacker. The Browns have decent depth at the position with playmaker Josh Cribbs and the upside of guys like Mohammed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie. They need a definite No. 1 receiver to help McCoy progress this year and they are in perfect position to take one of the top two, either AJ Green of Georgia or Julio Jones of Alabama. (9/9)
Ben Watson was actually the most consistent receiver in Cleveland last season but the position is incredibly old. Watson and No. 2 TE Robert Royal are both over 30 and Alex Smith hasn’t been able to break the lineup. The Browns have greater needs but if Notre Dame’s Kyle Rudolph can fall to them in the right situation, I can see the Browns taking a tight end in this year’s draft. (3/9)
The right side of the line needs help; the bright side is that the left side is very strong with Joe Thomas and even Eric Steinbach. Alex Mack is a quality center the team will rely on, but you should fully expect the Browns to take an offensive lineman with the ability to start immediately as early as Round 1.
I think the Browns would love to trade down but the CBA dilemma is going to restrict draft day trades, so the Browns will likely take best player available in Round 1, a receiver, then go offensive line soon after. (8/9)
It’s a good year to be in need of defensive line help, and the Browns will be hunting for it. When Ahtyba Rubin is the only defensive lineman worth naming on your team, you need to add some big names. The Browns could go with a defensive lineman as early as Round 1, but because there is so much depth at the position in this year’s draft you would think they would wait until Round 2. (9/9)
The linebacking corps isn’t great but there are some steady NFL athletes there like D’Qwell Jackson and Scott Fujita. It isn’t enough to turn everything around in Cleveland, but it is enough to make it through one more season. Linebacker will have to take a back-burner in this year’s draft. I would expect the Browns to add depth in late rounds or even just wait for free agency to secure some depth. (7/9)
The Browns are set in the secondary. They took their stud CB of the future in last year’s first round with Joe Haden and will have Sheldon Brown and Eric Wright competing for the second spot. Wright isn’t exactly one of the fastest cornerbacks in football but can take advantage of the right matchups.
Brown also has some upside if he doesn’t run out of gas. T.J. Ward is one of the league’s best young safeties but the team will have to figure out what to do with the free safety position, either drafting one or moving a cornerback to the position. (4/9)
The Browns have no need to draft any special teams help this year. (1/9)
Nick Sero is a contributor for TheSportsCannon.com, a fantasy sports website specializing in football and baseball. Quit sitting at the bottom of your league’s leaderboard and load up with information from the Sports Cannon.