The Cleveland Browns are really a team on the rise, in my opinion. I think the coaching hires they made this offseason just made a ton of sense, starting at the top with Rob Chudzinski, who then went out and hired former Chargers head coach Norv Turner and former Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton.
This is a team moving to a 3-4 defense, so you knew they’d have to get a bunch of new pieces for that side of the ball, and they spent their money in free agency doing just that. They signed away Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Desmond Bryant, a guy who can push the pocket and play DE in their new scheme, as well as a division rival pass rusher in Paul Kruger of the Baltimore Ravens. The Browns also added pass rusher Quentin Groves and cornerback Chris Owens from the Falcons, while Groves is familiar with new defensive coordinator Ray Horton.
The Browns have a chance to really make a leap this year, especially with all the turnover happening within their division, specifically with the Ravens and Steelers adding/losing so many players. Here is a four-round mock that I think could really up the Browns’ chances of taking the AFC North in 2013.
1. First Round, 6th overall: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Milliner is a big, fast, instinctive cornerback who is still pretty raw but I think he can be a stud in this league. He has all the talent in the world, and to be honest there aren’t many better situations he could fall into than this one. I think you’re getting a great coordinator in Ray Horton, and a fantastic bookend to play with in Joe Haden. Not to mention, the Browns have spent a LOT of money on players who can get to the quarterback this offseason, making Milliner’s job that much easier. Right now, the projected starter opposite Haden is Buster Skrine, who is a solid player, but I don’t think Cleveland would pass up on Milliner here if he’s on the board.
2. Second Round: Pick used in 2012 Supplemental Draft — Josh Gordon, WR, Baylor
3. Third Round, 68th overall: Stedman Bailey, WR, West Virginia
The Browns have used a lot of prime picks on wide receivers lately, starting with Greg Little and going down the line to Josh Gordon and Travis Benjamin. That being said, this team can’t have too many playmakers. The Browns realize that the NFL is a passing league, and they could have a sick arsenal of weapons if you add a guy like Bailey in the early portion of the third round. Bailey has great speed, hands, and physicality for his size. He has drawn comparisons to Greg Jennings and Steve Smith in that regard. I think in the third round, you can’t get much better value than this on a team that needs guys to come in and make plays in the passing game, an area they really lacked last year.
4. Fourth Round, 104th overall: A.J. Klein, LB, Iowa State
This seems like a really good spot for A.J. Klein to go. I think he could go sooner than this based on his measurables and production in college, but the Browns would probably love to snatch him up at this juncture. He is a really tough player with instincts, speed, and versatility. I think he’d fit right in at ILB next to D’Qwell Jackson for the Browns, and give this defense another upgrade. Any time you can find a guy with starter capabilities after the third round, you’re striking gold. I think Klein has the potential to be a really, really good player in the NFL.