Cleveland Browns: 2012 Team Needs
March 4th, 2012 By DraftNasty Staff Reports
The Browns are in the driver's seat in the 2012 NFL Draft after trading its first round pick a season ago to the Atlanta Falcons. Cleveland owns two good picks in the draft's first round (4,22) and have indicated they are open for business.
2012 Team Needs
Potential Free Agents: Peyton Hillis, RB, Phil Dawson, PK, Brad Maynard, P,
Oniel Cousins, OT, John Greco, OT, Steve Valkos, OG
Positions of Need: OG, WR, RB
The Browns don’t specifically have a need at QB if you believe Colt McCoy is the answer. However, at this point –particularly with his violent concussion at the end of 2011- there are question marks. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the team use its two first round picks to move up to select a signal-caller.
Peyton Hillis wasn’t healthy a year ago and his lengthy timetable for returning proved to be a distraction for the team. Montario Hardesty has struggled to stay on the field after major durability question marks coming out of Tennessee. Chris Ogbonnaya surprised with his 4.6 yds/carry average. It would behoove the team to acquire a back that can handle the pounding of the AFC North in late December. This is a priority early in either free agency or the draft.
Greg Little struggled with consistency on his way to a team-best 61 receptions. No one on the Browns’ roster averaged more than 12.6 yds/catch. Currently, there just isn’t a true deep threat in the WR corps.
After losing C Alex Mack to injury the line struggled, particularly because LG Eric Steinbach missed the season. Even if he returns, it would not be a surprise to see the team look for someone to either challenge Tony Pashos on the right side and swing to guard if neither Shawn Lauvao or 2011 5th round pick Jason Pinkston steps up significantly. In a division stacked with teams able to stop the run, the Browns need someone who can create forward movement off the ball. New Orleans’ free agent OG Carl Nicks will be on the market after the Saints decided to place the franchise tag on Drew Brees.
Potential Key Free Agents: Mike Adams FS, Dimitri Patterson DB
Positions of Need: DE, LB, CB
The Browns got solid play from rookies Jabaal Sheard (8.5 sacks) and Phil Taylor, but DL Ahtyba Rubin may have been the team's most underrated player (82 tackles, 5 QB Sacks). An edge rusher opposite Sheard would create more one-on-one opportunities for the trio. Even if the team uses both of its first round picks to move up in the first round, they can gamble and try to pick up a player like Virginia’s Cam Johnson or Marshall’s Vinny Curry in Rounds 2 or 3. The 2012 defensive end class lacks elite edge rushers, making this position a gamble to wait on addressing later in the draft. If the Browns stay at pick 22, USC’s Nick Perry could be a viable option.
After re-signing D’Qwell Jackson to a five-year deal, the onus has to be on finding him a legitimate compliment at Will LB. Due to a weak free agent crop, this is also a position which could get looks in the draft.
As of press time, the status of starting FS Mike Adams was unknown. He led the Browns with 3 interceptions a year ago. If he leaves, the team may decide to move CB Sheldon Brown inside –he’s a good tackler- and look for another corner. 2nd-year CB Buster Skrine showed flashes, but he may not be ready to compete for a job opposite Joe Haden. Unrestricted free agent Dimitri Patterson is coming off a strong year and, if re-signed, he could play a bigger role.
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