The Browns used five of their first six draft picks last year to address their offensive woes and with reason for optimism on that side of the ball, look for the Browns to focus on improving their defense early and often in this year’s draft. The Browns are projected to possess a little over 48 million dollars in cap space, the second highest in the league. Under the direction of new owner, Jimmy Haslam, the Browns may look to add an impact player or two through free agency. Assuming the Browns do not make a major splash in free agency, Browns fans should get to know a few potential impact players better before the draft rolls around. The Browns select sixth in this year’s draft and their first pick is extra important this year, because they do not have a second round pick after wisely using it on receiver Josh Gordon through the supplemental draft. Here are the Browns five best options with the sixth pick in the 2013 draft:
1. Jarvis Jones: The Browns need a dominate pass rushing end as well as a reliable coverage linebacker. Jarvis Jones fills both those needs and his versatility and athleticism should be far to much for the Browns to bypass if he is available. Under new defensive coordinator, Ray Horton, the Browns may switch to a 3-4 defense, which would be an ideal fit for a player such as Jones. Jones is built in the Von Miller mold of linebackers and if he is able to produce at nearly the same level as Miller, he would be a steal with the 6th pick. Questions about Jones’s spinal stenosis could be enough to help him slide to number six, but he has proven against the odds that it is not a problem. The Browns are aging at linebacker and are especially weak at outside linebacker. All signs point to Jarvis Jones as the top priority for the Browns rebuilding defense.
2. Bjoern Werner/ Damontre Moore: There is close to a zero percent chance that both Werner and Moore would be available with the 6th selection, but there is a decent chance that one of them would be available for the Browns with the sixth pick. Both defensive ends rate very closely to each other and drafting whichever one is available would not be a bad consolation for a Browns team in need of a dominate pass rushing end. The Browns had 38 sacks, which is not a bad number, but no single player had more than 7 sacks individually. Having a dominate end would do wonders for a team that struggled more against the run than anticipated. Werner accumulated 13 sacks in 2012, while also batting down eight passes. There is no player who can compare to J.J. Watt’s size, strength and athleticism, but Werner is close. Moore does not wow one with athleticism, but he finds ways to constantly get to the quarterback through great technique. Moore had 12.5 sacks and 20 tackles for loss this past season for a Texas A&M team that was among the best at the end of the season.
3. Trade Down: If the three players listed above are taken, the Browns should look to trade down either a couple picks to draft one of the two players listed below and gain a mid round pick or trade into the 10-15 range to accumulate a second round pick. If the Browns trade down to around the 8th pick, they would be getting more value in drafting either Dee Milliner or Chance Warmack, who are slight reaches at number 6. If the top 3 choices are taken, then their is a reasonable chance that Defensive Tackle Star Lotulelei would be available with the sixth pick. He is one of the safest picks in the draft and teams would be more than willing to trade up to get him. Defensive tackle is a position of strength for the Browns so drafting Lotulelei themselves would not be the best move. Players such as; Barkevious Mingo and Ezekiel Ansah are interesting options but they would be slight reaches at number six. Trading into the 8-10 range gives the Browns a chance to draft Milliner, Warmack, Mingo or Ansah at a more appropriate draft position, while gaining compensation. Trading into the middle of the first round will certainly net the Browns at least a second a second round pick and they could still draft a player such as Manti Te’o or Tyler Eifert, both top players at their positions at positions of need for the Browns.
4. Dee Milliner: If the top three options are taken and the Browns are unable to trade down, then Milliner should be the pick. This is a little high to draft a corner that is not a sure thing, but Milliner is the best in the class at a position of need for the Browns. The Browns record this season with Joe Haden in the lineup: 5-6. The Browns record without him: 0-5. Haden is a stud, but with Sheldon Brown aging and little other depth, the Browns desperately need to add another corner. This is the position the Browns should look to improve through free agency. Milliner is not rated as highly as Haden, Patrick Peterson or Morris Claiborne, who were selected 7th, 5th and 6th respectively. This is about the range to select the best corner in the draft, but he might not be safe enough to select sixth overall. Milliner should be a very solid corner in the NFL for a decade, but without elite speed and with only one full year of experience as a starter, the Browns should wait around towards the 8-10 range to call his name if they are able to.
5. Chance Warmack: Milliner’s Alabama’s teammate appears to be a very safe pick, but number six is a tad high to select an offensive guard. Warmack, the only offensive player on this list would fill a position of need and was the leader of Alabama’s incredible offensive line this past season. Warmack has very few flaws and should be a starter from day one. He is the type of impact player the Browns need and would be a wise pick in the 8-10 range, but not at number six. Drafting another offensive player would leave the Browns with few options to improve a defensive that needs more impact players, so if they select an offensive player, they must receive compensation in the process. Milliner may not be available if the Browns trade back, but Warmack should be and teaming him up with former teammate Trent Richardson could yield big results.