Steven King

Browns Have No Shortage Of Options At No. 6

Created on Apr. 18, 2013 2:24 PM EST

The Cleveland Browns are the poster child for a 2013 NFL Draft that’s a real head-scratcher to figure out.

Indeed, this may be the most unpredictable draft in years, even decades.

And as such, it’s nearly impossible to tell what the Browns will do at No. 6. The only thing that most draft observers seem to agree on is that the Browns’ pick may very well steer the remainder of the first round.

The Browns once again have a lot of needs, especially as they transition back to a 3-4 defensive scheme after having been in the 4-3 the last two years. So they could go in a variety of ways and not really be wrong.

They’re in desperate need of another shutdown cornerback to play opposite of Joe Haden. If they decide to try to fill that hole, then it’s likely they’ll take Alabama’s Dee Milliner, the best of the lot at that position.

New GM Mike Lombardi, who used to work with Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban when they were together in Cleveland from 1991-94, has a tremendous amount of respect for him and what he’s done at Alabama. He knows Saban is an anomaly in college football in that with the way he conducts practices, running the Tide as if they were an NFL team.

Because of that, Saban’s players arrive in the NFL pro-ready. RB Trent Richardson, taken by the Browns at No. 3 overall last year, had no problem adjusting to the league after going through “Camp Saban”.

But in transitioning to the 3-4, the Browns are short at linebacker, the most important position in that defense. So if they took Oregon OLB Dion Jordan – probably the top prospect at that spot – no one could argue with it. He would blend nicely with free-agent signings Paul Kruger and Quentin Groves and alleviate the need for former 4-3 left defensive end Jabaal Sheard to make an immediate transition to right outside linebacker. That’s a tough switch and there’s no guarantee that Sheard will be able to do it.

Jordan and Milliner. Milliner and Jordan.

If the Browns took either one of them, it would hardly be a surprise. More importantly, it would make sense. And in a lot of ways, that’s what the draft is all about.

But will they pick one of those two players? That’s tough to project, because we don’t know enough yet about Lombardi and the other man heading the draft, CEO Joe Banner. While each has substantial experience in the league, we don’t yet know what they like and don’t like (or value and don’t value).

It’s not even a certainty that the Browns will remain at No. 6. In fact, it appears the Browns would like very much to trade out of the pick, go down four to five spots and be able to get the same talent at Nos. 10 or 11 that they could have gotten at No 6 in a draft where a lot of the players appear to hold similar value.

Keep in mind that when Banner was working in Philadelphia, he liked to trade down and pick up extra choices – such as the second-rounder the Browns gave up last season when they selected WR Josh Gordon in the NFL Supplemental Draft.

But as is always the case, it takes two to tango and some player has to be available that another team covets enough to move up. Does that player exist in this draft and is there a team willing to surrender enough to make the move?

Should the Browns make that deal to move down, then all bets are off as to what they would do and who they would target. But this much is sure: their options would be wide open.

In that trade-down situation, don’t be shocked if the Browns take West Virginia QB Geno Smith.  Banner and Lombardi would love to get a young quarterback to bring along – even if Brandon Weeden ends up being the Week 1 starter. If they think Smith is a franchise player, they would not hesitate one bit to take him.

Now, they might not have the courage to pick Smith at No. 6 – they may think that’s too high and not a  good value -- but they would have the nerve to tab him a little later.

Wonder how that would go over in quarterback-crazy Cleveland? We may find out.

Whatever happens, we’ll soon find out.

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