Things were certainly looking up in Cleveland last season coming off an offensive explosion in 2007. Derek Anderson was potentially looked at as "the
guy," Braylon Edwards made a name for himself, Joe Thomas was snubbed for Offensive Rookie of the Year, and Kellen Winslow Jr. had a dominant season the year
before. What could possibly go wrong?
Oh yeah?we forgot about that thing we refer to as "defense." The Shaun Rogers acquisition worked out great and
D?Qwell Jackson had a solid season, but the secondary was leaky and the Brownies failed to get after opposing quarterbacks. Can Eric Mangini lead Cleveland into the playoffs, or will he be in the Dawg Pound in 2011? It all starts on Draft Day; let?s get to their draft range at No.5 overall:
Aaron Curry: I think it is 95-percent probable the Chiefs take Curry at No. 3. The Browns will not hesitate to pull the trigger on Curry if he
falls to their spot, but I doubt that comes to fruition.
Michael Crabtree: Donte? Stallworth was a free-agent bust last season and Braylon Edwards had a case of the dropsies. Wideout is a bit of a need
and if Seattle happens to go offensive tackle or B.J. Raji at 4, then Cleveland might consider a top wideout for Brady Quinn.
B.J. Raji: I have seen a few mocks that have Raji going to Cleveland, and it makes zero sense. Shaun Rogers is a dominant nose tackle and they
have money invested in him. I highly doubt Cleveland goes with Raji this high.
Cornerback: I used to think Vontae Davis or Malcolm Jenkins had adequate value this high in the 2009 NFL Draft, but not anymore. Davis did not look fluid
in defensive back drills at the Combine and Jenkins doesn?t have the speed of a top-five pick. Cleveland is not going corner here.
Brian Orakpo: Brian Orakpo is the favorite to go to Cleveland. Orakpo pulled away as the elite pass-rusher in the NFL Draft at the Combine. Aaron Maybin really
struggled at 249 pounds athletically and Everette Brown measured in at just over 6-1. Orakpo is a beast of an athlete and really produced last year at
Texas. He is the clear-cut No. 5 pick at this point.
The Browns have so many needs after the fifth pick, it is nearly impossible to determine exactly the route they will go, but I have a few ideas.
Trading down seems to be a very possible option at No. 36 overall. Cleveland could move back 15 or 20 picks and pick up some extra mid-rounders. The top
of the second round is always a popular place to do business because those picks are not only highly valuable, but also flexible enough to have a trading partner.
Look for Cleveland to really consider moving out of this pick.
After my projection of taking Orakpo, Cleveland has a few needs on defense, mainly in the secondary. Brandon McDonald was very inconsistent, so corner
could be the option. D.J. Moore, Jairus Byrd, Coye Franices, Alphonso Smith and Sean Smith are possibilities in the second round. Later on, they could
be looking at Mark Parson, Kevin Barnes, Keenan Lewis, Asher Allen or DeAngelo Smith in the mid-rounds.
Jamal Lewis needs someone to share the load with at this point in his career. Donald Brown and LeSean McCoy are second-round possibilities. In the third-to-fifth rounds, I like Javon Ringer, Rashad Jennings, Kory Sheets, Cedric Peerman and Mike Goodson.
If the Browns elect not to draft Crabtree at five overall or do not have the chance to take him, wide receiver must eventually be addressed. Brian
Robiskie seems like a great fit in this offense, and he is from Ohio. His hands, route running, and intangibles are exceptional. Brady Quinn would love
him as a second-round pick. Jarrett Dillard, Brandon Gibson, Juaquin Iglesias, Ramses Barden and Mike Wallace are options in the mid-rounds.
Ryan Tucker recently restructured his contract, and Cleveland might be looking for offensive linemen with positional flexibility in the mid-to-late-rounds. Gerald Cadogan, Fenuki Tupou, Robert Brewster, Jamon Meredith, Andy Levitre and Kraig Urbik can all potentially fill in at guard and right tackle.
A starter at defensive end (5-technique) is an option opposite Corey Williams. Fili Moala, Evander Hood and Jarron Gilbert could be second-round picks
for Rob Ryan?s defense. Guys in their mid-round draft range at this position include Corvey Irvin, Terrance Knighton, Dorrell Scott and Demonte?
Mangini might want to upgrade Mike Adams at strong safety since Sean Jones left as a free agent for Philadelphia. Chip Vaughn, Michael Hamlin, Emanuel
Cook and Courtney Green are third-to-fifth round targets.
After trading away Winslow and not acting as the most personable man in Cleveland, Mangini certainly has his work cut out for him. This team has
several needs, and it will be interesting to see what they choose to do on Draft Weekend.