The Cleveland Browns are entering the second draft of the Mike Holmgren era and are looking to build on the great successes that they enjoyed in 2010. Joe Haden highlighted a draft class with great football ability and knowledge and gave fans a glimpse of what the franchise could be in the coming years.
This slideshow is a complete seven-round mock draft for the Cleveland Browns in the 2011 NFL draft. This draft has been researched relentlessly and put together for the final three weeks of the pre-draft season.
With the sixth pick in the 2011 NFL draft, the Cleveland Browns select...
The thought of Patrick Peterson in a Cleveland Browns uniform in 2011 should make any Cleveland fan smile larger than their face will allow. Peterson is a great football talent and has not shown any off-field issues for NFL teams to be concerned with during the drafting process.
Peterson recorded 135 tackles over the course of his three-year career at Louisiana State University and picked off seven passes.
The Browns will automatically become one of the most feared secondary units in the league after the selection of Peterson, as a mixture of youth, talent and veteran leadership could make a long day for opposing quarterbacks.
With the addition of Peterson to the lineup, Cleveland's eventual depth chart in the secondary will likely be:
1. Joe Haden
2. Patrick Peterson
3. Sheldon Brown
4. Eric Wright
5. Coye Francies
6. Mike Adams
Leonard Hankerson is the playmaking wide receiver that the Cleveland Browns have coveted ever since Braylon Edwards' breakout year in 2007. Hankerson is a tall, physical receiver who can not only catch the ball in traffic but can simply outrun defenders on a whim.
The Browns will insert Hankerson into the lineup early and often, which will be a significant change from how Eric Mangini decided to develop Mohammed Massaqoui, Brian Robiskie and Carlton Mitchell.
Hankerson could easily be the second or third wide receiver when the 2011 season opens, depending on how much training camp time is missed due to the lockout.
The Cleveland Browns need an offensive guard to help stop the revolving door that has seemed the plague the right side of the offensive line. James Carpenter has the size and speed necessary to take over that right tackle or guard position and block for Cleveland's mobile quarterbacks.
Carpenter weighed 324 pounds at the NFL combine and is listed as the fourth overall prospect at the position according to his ESPN Insider profile.
One of the good things about Carpenter compared to many other guard prospects is the fact that he has remained healthy throughout his entire college career. Carpenter played three seasons with the Crimson Tide and only missed time in 2010 due to an ankle injury. Carpenter was also part of the blocking line that helped Mark Ingram win a Heisman Trophy in 2009.
The Cleveland Browns already passed one of the Matthews brothers during the Eric Mangini era, but they will not make the same mistake twice when they select Casey Matthews from Oregon.
Matthews is a quality instinctual football player who collected well over 200 tackles during his career at Oregon and picked off three passes as a senior in 2010.
The Browns have a need at the inside linebacker position as the health of D'Qwell Jackson continues to be a question mark every season, and no true inside backer really exists on the roster.
Cleveland will continue to add as much defensive personnel as possible throughout the later rounds of the draft, but Matthews simply has too much potential to pass up in the fourth round.
The Browns need to address the defensive line at some point in this draft, but their scheme of taking the best player available will keep them without a lineman until the fifth round. Allen is a strong defensive end and has great speed in pursuit.
Throughout his college career at Nebraska, Allen recorded over 180 tackles and 13 sacks while forcing one fumble. This pick makes sense for Cleveland for several reasons. The defensive end position is in great need of reconstruction and the team already has a solid defensive tackle with Ahtyba Rubin on the current roster.
As stated earlier, the Browns simply have too many needs to address with eight draft picks. Free agency will be key in determining whether or not Cleveland can be a contender next season and how deep they will be along the defensive line.
The Browns need personnel to help transition to the 4-3 defense under Dick Jauron. Cedric Thornton is a quick defensive lineman who has played every position and is better than many top prospects at dropping back into coverage.
Thornton would likely become a defensive tackle in the Browns lineup, as the end position was already addressed with an earlier pick. However, a lot of his options will be limited by Cleveland's acquisitions in free agency.
The Browns continue to address the wide receiver position with this late-round pick as Niles Paul becomes one of the few steals of the third day.
Paul caught over 100 balls during his four seasons with Nebraska while serving as the second or third option in most games. Paul collected 1,532 yards in his career and also caught five touchdowns.
Paul fits nicely into Cleveland's system for many reasons. With this selection, Cleveland will now have a wealth of talent at a position that has been lacking for several seasons. Cleveland can now begin using its receivers in specialty packages that play to its strengths rather than on every down.
With the addition of Paul, the futures of current wide receivers Chansi Stuckey and Carlton Mitchell become even more uncertain. This should be a nice training camp battle to pay attention to in 2011.
Derrick Locke missed four games in 2010 due to injury but still managed to rush for over 800 yards and 10 touchdowns. Locke has good hands coming out of the backfield and also possesses incredible speed, as he was timed at a 4.21 in the 40-yard dash according to the announcers in the video above.
It may be a bit of stretch to believe that Locke will last this long in the draft as many mocks have him projected as a fifth to sixth round prospect. However, if he does manage to slide into the seventh, Cleveland would surely add a nice insurance policy for Peyton Hillis and a great change-of-pace runner in key situations.