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2013 NFL Draft primer: Cleveland Browns

Alabama defensive back Dee Milliner runs back a

Alabama defensive back Dee Milliner runs back a turnover as teammate Brandon Ivory puts a block on Michigan running back Thomas Rawls during the first half. (Sept. 1, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

The future stars of the NFL are almost here. The first round of the 2013 NFL draft kicks off on April 25, and every team will look to build for both the present and future. This is the sixth in a two-a-day, 30-part series that looks at each team leading up to the draft and which potential first-round picks would be a good fit for that team.


2012 record: 5-11

Key offseason acquisitions:

Paul Kruger, defensive end/linebacker

Desmond Bryant, defensive tackle

Jason Campbell, quarterback

Quentin Groves, outside linebacker

Chris Owens, cornerback

Kevin Barnes cornerback

Key offseason departures:

Colt McCoy, quarterback

Chris Gocong, linebacker

Usama Young, safety

Biggest holes in roster: Cornerback, defensive end, inside linebacker

The Browns don't have as many glaring issues entering the draft as one would think. They finally have a marquee running back (Trent Richardson), their wide receiver corps is young but developing nicely and new offensive coordinator Norv Turner should help second-year QB Brandon Weeden grow. The defense is a bigger question mark, with new defensive coordinator Ray Horton implementing a base 3-4 scheme.

Cleveland's main need is at cornerback. The Browns gave up the eighth-most passing yards (3,923) and the fourth-most completions (378) in 2012. The Browns signed Chris Owens and Kevin Barnes, but that duo started a combined one game in 2012.

Cleveland should be thankful if Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner is still available here. Milliner has good speed, good ballhawking ability and fluid hips, drawing some comparisons to current Browns cornerback Joe Haden. Milliner would slide right in opposite Haden and turn a suspect pass defense into something more formidable.

Of course, there's a pretty good chance Milliner is gone before the Browns make their pick. If that's the case, they could go for the next best cornerback in the draft - Florida State's Xavier Rhodes. At 6-2, Rhodes is taller than the 6-0 Milliner and could be an even better physical complement to the 5-11 Haden. He had a good career with the Seminoles, picking off eight passes to go with 31 passes defensed in 39 starts. Picking Rhodes sixth overall might be a bit of a reach, though, considering there are other quality prospects available at other positions of need.

Defensive end is one such position. Jabaal Sheard's move to outside linebacker leaves a hole on the edge of the line, but there are plenty of options should the Browns decide to pick up a pass rusher here. Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah of BYU may be the most intriguing bet. He's very similar to Kruger and Sheard in that he can play on the line as well as drop back into coverage. If the Browns are looking for more of a pure lineman, Florida State's Bjoern Werner would be the best choice here.

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