The Cleveland Browns basically crippled their own defense this offseason by hiring new defensive coordinator Ray Horton and switching to a 3-4 defense. The team invested in two 4-3 defensive linemen in the 2012 NFL Draft with John Hughes (Cincinnati) and Billy Winn (Boise State) and now those players are basically worthless to the team. That means the Browns need to start over on defense by building a unit that can play the 3-4 and rumor has it they’re targeting the most notable linebacker in recent memory to do just that–Notre Dame‘s Manti Te’o.
Even before all the girlfriend hoax drama, Te’o was a household name because of his play on the field. He was the only defensive player among three Heisman Trophy finalists and he excelled in the Fighting Irish’s 3-4 after switching from outside to inside linebacker when Notre Dame switched from a 4-3 to a 3-4 in his sophomore year.
As far as where Te’o is taken in the 2013 NFL Draft, it really depends on how much stock the Browns put into his off-field issues. If they mainly focus on his play on the field, he’ll undoubtedly be a first-round pick and maybe even as high as No. 6 overall when the Browns make their first selection. Again, if he has no more off-field issues and plays his game, then drafting him that high is justifiable, but this is one of those things that just isn’t measurable. We’ll see if the rumor is true and the Browns take a chance on Te’o.