Cleveland Browns / 2013 TEAM NEEDS
Norv Turner takes over Cleveland’s offense and figures to get the most out of Trent Richardson, who is a 300-plus-touch kind of running back. Turner’s offenses have been predicated on quarterbacks with a strong arm to go downfield (i.e. Philip Rivers). Brandon Weeden has the arm, but does he have the tools to take advantage of a young but promising receiving corps?
TOP 3 OFFENSIVE NEEDS
TE — The Browns need a playmaker at this position. Perhaps third-year pro Jordan Cameron develops into that player, but the more capable tight ends a team can have, the better. Veteran Benjamin Watson is an unrestricted free agent, so adding at least one tight end for depth purposes would be reasonable.
RB— Make no mistake: The Browns have their featured back in Richardson. What they need, however, is a quick third-down back — someone who can make plays in space and reduce the risk of wear-and-tear to Richardson. Adding a quick complement to Richardson would help this offense, which has more talent than in previous years but still needs punch.
QB — With a coaching/regime change, would it be any surprise if the Browns continued to tinker at quarterback? Weeden was inconsistent as a rookie, and he will be 30 in October. Colt McCoy, Weeden’s top backup, is best-suited for a West Coast scheme.
Ray Horton inherits a very young unit that showed some flashes, especially in the second half of the season. Horton ran a 3-4 defense in Arizona with the roots he had in Pittsburgh. The Browns ran a 4-3 last season, and Horton has said he isn’t “married” to a scheme, but that it will be aggressive. Joe Haden is a cornerstone in the secondary, but this group needs more playmakers.
TOP 3 DEFENSIVE NEEDS
DE — The Browns are sound on defense. Now, they must get more dynamic. One way to accomplish this goal: adding edge-rushing talent. The Browns notched a respectable 37 sacks a season ago, but no player had more than seven. Another rusher to complement the capable Jabaal Sheard, if only on passing downs in Year One, would be helpful.
CB — Steady Sheldon Brown is an unrestricted free agent, and he will be 34 this month. Even if he’s re-signed, Brown is a short-term solution. The Browns have a potential blue-chip cornerback in Joe Haden, and third-year pro Buster Skrine could be a solid nickel back. However, a little more depth is needed.
LB — If Chris Gocong makes a strong return from a knee injury, the Browns will have solid depth in the LB corps. Nevertheless, the Browns need a little more playmaking ability in the front seven. With OLBs Scott Fujita and Kaluka Maiava being free agents, adding a linebacker makes sense.
2012 DRAFT REWIND
1st round (3): RB Trent Richardson / Alabama (GP/GS: 15/15)
Skinny: Workhorse showed flashes, but rushing average was low.
1st round (22): QB Brandon Weeden / Oklahoma State (GP/GS: 15/15)
Skinny: Started from Day One. Showed promise, but too many INTs.
2nd round (37): ORT Mitchell Schwartz / California (GP/GS: 16/16)
Skinny: Consistent, All-Rookie tackle had zero holding penalties.
3rd round (87): NT John Hughes / Cincinnati (GP/GS: 16/2)
Skinny: Notched three sacks in 2012 rushing from interior.
4th round (100): WR Travis Benjamin / Miami (Fla.) (GP/GS: 14/3)
Skinny: Electric return man went 18-298-2 receiving.
4th round (120): MLB James-Michael Johnson / Nevada (GP/GS: 10/8)
Skinny: Effective when healthy. Should be a starter in 2013.
5th round (160): OG Ryan Miller / Colorado (GP/GS: 8/0)
Skinny: Appeared as a reserve on O-line.
6th round (204): LB Emmanuel Acho / Texas (GP/GS: 0/0)
Skinny: Was placed on injured reserve in late August.
6th round (205): DT Billy Winn / Boise State (GP/GS: 16/10)
Skinny: Impressed, overachieved with 26 tackles, three PDs.
7th round (245): CB Trevin Wade / Arizona (GP/GS: 13/0)
Skinny: Solid production for a seventh-rounder.
7th round (247): TE Brad Smelley / Alabama (GP/GS: 2/0)
Skinny: Nonfactor as a reserve H-back.
*2nd round (Supplemental): WR Josh Gordon / Baylor (GP/GS: 16/13)
Skinny: One of the top rookie receivers in 2012.
SUMMARY: Stellar production, depth from this class. Long-term future of Weeden, Richardson is key.
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