5 NFL Draft Prospects Who Could Be Instant Starters For Cleveland Browns
NFL Draft Prospects Who Can Immediately Start For Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns are a team in turmoil heading into the 2014 offseason. After firing Rob Chudzinski after just one season, the Browns were the final team in the NFL without a head coach until the hiring of Mike Pettine at the end of January. Pettine comes over from the Buffalo Bills where he served as the defensive coordinator and is known for his bright defensive mind. Defense was an area of strength for the Browns in 2013, and they will look to remake their offense during the draft and in free agency.
Since returning to the NFL in 1999 after the original franchise moved to Baltimore, the Browns have never had a franchise quarterback to build their team around. With the No. 1 overall pick of the 1999 NFL Draft the Browns tied their future to quarterback Tim Couch. That pick obviously didn't work out very well, but it may have worked out better than the other two quarterbacks the Browns drafted in the first round: Brady Quinn and Brandon Weeden. While they have had no luck drafting quarterbacks, the Browns will have an opportunity to start fresh this year with the No. 4 overall pick in the draft and a strong quarterback class to pick from.
After addressing the quarterback position, the Browns will also have to add a new wide receiver and possibly a running back. There are rumors that the Browns are targeting Houston Texans running back Ben Tate in free agency, but whether or not this works out the Browns will need to add depth to their backfield. Safety and center may also be positions of needs this offseason as safety T.J. Ward and center Alex Mack will both be highly sought after free agents. If the Browns stay with a 3-4 defense they will also need a new inside linebacker as Craig Robertson was ineffective in 2013.
In the NFL, teams can change their fortunes in one offseason, and the Browns will look to start fresh in 2014 with a new quarterback and a rebuilt offense. The following are five NFL Draft prospects who could start for the Browns immediately next season.
5. Shayne Skov
Shayne Skov was the leader of a fierce Stanford defense, and at 6-foot-3, 244-pounds he is right at home as an inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. In 2013 Skov had 109 tackles, 5.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss. He looks like an animal on the field and could develop into the new leader of the Browns defense. Skov will likely be selected between the second and third round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
4. Jordan Matthews
Wide receiver Jordan Matthews has the size of a No. 1 receiver (6-foot-3, 205-pounds), but more importantly, he has the skill to be an elite player in the NFL. Matthews had 112 receptions for Vanderbilt playing in the SEC this past season after catching 94 balls in 2012. He catches any ball that comes near him and would be a rookie quarterback’s dream. Currently the Browns do not have a reliable wide receiver behind Josh Gordon, and Matthews would immediately move to the top of the depth chart. The Browns may be able to nab Matthews with their third-round pick.
3. Carlos Hyde
When the Browns' second-round pick comes along, they have a chance to replace Trent Richardson who they swapped for a first-round pick in a genius early season trade with the Indianapolis Colts. Similar in style to Marshawn Lynch, the 6-foot, 242-pound Carlos Hyde is a one-cut downhill runner. Hyde ran wild in 2013, averaging 7.3 yards per carry on 1,521 yards rushing with 15 touchdowns. Carlos Hyde could be the perfect workhorse back for the Browns as they transition to a new QB.
2. Calvin Pryor
Safety Calvin Pryor out of Louisville has been shooting up draft boards recently, and some teams view him as the top safety available ahead of Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. With T.J. Ward likely leaving in free agency, the Browns could use the No. 26 pick to replace him with hard-hitting Calvin Pryor. The 6-foot-2, 208-pound Pryor was a playmaker for Louisville, amassing 100 tackles and five forced fumbles in 2012 and 75 tackles, three interceptions and two forced fumbles in 2013.
1. Johnny Manziel
With the No. 4 pick in the draft, the Browns will likely be able to choose from a list of quarterbacks that includes at least one of the following top prospects: Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles. All three quarterbacks have appeared at the top of mock drafts and there’s no telling which quarterback certain teams prefer. It is likely, though, that the St. Louis Rams will not be selecting a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick since they have former No. 1 overall Sam Bradford in place. This will leave the Browns with an opportunity to select a top flight college quarterback who will hopefully be the franchise QB this version of the Browns franchise has never seen.