National Football Authority
Published: 20-04-2012 9:19

After missing the NFL playoffs for a 17th consecutive season, the Cleveland Browns once again find themselves entering the draft with a ton of needs to fill. Fortunately, they have the equity to address their most glaring holes.

Cleveland has seven picks in the upcoming draft, including all of its own picks through the first four rounds and also the Houston Texans’ third-round selection. They don’t have any of their own selections in the final three rounds, but they do boast the Arizona Cardinals’ sixth-rounder and Green Bay Packers’ seventh-rounder.

Those five picks in the first four rounds will be the Browns’ bread and butter, the assets most likely to shore up their rotation. Their most glaring concerns at the moment are on the offensive line, safety, defensive line, and linebacker. They could use another receiver and tight end, but those issues will be secondary to everything else.

Experts expect the Browns to go with an offensive tackle when they’re on the clock with their first pick at No. 10. They need to find a way to better protect quarterback Baker Mayfield and offer more blocking for running back Nick Chubb. The name most likely to monitor here is Andrew Thomas out of Georgia.

After that, it makes the most sense for the Browns to focus on deepening their secondary, specifically at safety. They were 17th in passing touchdowns allowed last season, and the going doesn’t project to get any easier. Ashtyn Davis out of California is the player most are calling for, assuming he’s still available.

That brings us to the third round, where the Browns own picks No. 74 (their own) and No. 90 (Houston’s). Picking up another offensive line talent at No. 74 could become the goal; it would give the Browns more bites at the apple. But if linebackers Jordyn Brooks from Texas Tech or Malik Harrison from Ohio State are still on the board, we can reasonably expect either of them to end up in Cleveland.

The defensive line will then become the focus at No. 90—although another offensive lineman could be in play here, too. The best fit among realistic options is Jordan Elliott, an inside defensive lineman from Missouri who would do wonders for their pass rush.

Finally, to cap off our four-round look at the Browns, we could see them going with a pass-catcher. Still, this is where we think they’ll inevitably lean toward another offensive line addition. The name we’re watching is Solomon Kindley from Georgia. Along with everyone else we’ve mentioned, he’d go a long way toward improving the Browns’ chances of returning to the playoffs.

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