This is the 18th in a 20-part series examining some possibilities for the Browns in the 2013 NFL Draft, including extensive looks at the most likely prospects for the No. 6 overall selection, potential targets later in the draft, trade-down scenarios, what the other teams in the AFC North might do and the top players coming out of Ohio State and the Mid-American Conference.
Each morning will bring a new, daily posting leading up the NFL Scouting Combine on Wednesday.
Today we take a look at what the Browns might do if they choose to trade down from the No. 6 overall pick, and who they might be targeting.
The Browns certainly haven't been shy about acquiring more draft picks and moving down the board in the first round. In 2009, the Browns moved down a couple of times, going from the No. 5 pick (the New York Jets took quarterback Mark Sanchez) and eventually to No. 21, taking center Alex Mack. Two years later, former Browns General Manager Tom Heckert pulled off a large trade with the Atlanta Falcons, giving up the No. 6 overall pick and acquiring two first-round picks, a second and two fourths.
Mack has become a Pro Bowl-caliber center, and while the Browns' return in the Julio Jones deal from 2011 remains in question, Jones himself is turning into one of the elite receivers in the league.
The 2013 draft could be another trade-down year for the Browns, who have the sixth overall pick. This draft, according to many analysts and scouts, lacks the elite, can't-miss prospects that most drafts have. The strength of this class, meanwhile, is its great depth, particularly among defensive lineman and pass rushers. The Browns could try to take advantage of this, moving down the board in the first round to acquire picks later, most likely a second-rounder.
Wide receiver Josh Gordon was selected in the second round of the supplemental draft last year, meaning the Browns' second-round pick in this April's draft was forfeited. The Browns might want to re-enter that round, opening the door for a trade.
With the NFL Scouting Combine starting Wednesday, a lot of shuffling among player rankings will happen between now and April. The pass rushers will have to sort themselves out and a wide receiver or two could impress, throwing another option into the mix for the top-10 teams. The more players impress, the more likely it is the Browns draft room gets a phone call.
Aside from a general team wanting a general player at No. 6, the Browns' draft spot might also warrant a trade offer. The Browns are slotted right before two of the most quarterback-needy teams, Arizona at No. 7 and Buffalo at No. 8. And we've seen the crazy things people will do for a quarterback.
There are three quarterbacks who could go within the top eight picks -- West Virginia's Geno Smith, Southern California's Matt Barkley and North Carolina State's Mike Glennon. Smith has a chance to become the No. 1 pick to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Should either the Cardinals or, especially, the Bills, feel one of those three to be a franchise quarterback, they could try to pounce and leapfrog one another to take him off the board. Buffalo is particularly interesting, having the latter pick, and especially if Smith falls that far. The early thought was that Smith could be the No. 1 pick. Many, like ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., feel that'd be a mistake. Smith could go No. 2 or No. 3, but it's believed by most that those teams -- the Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders -- will address their needs along the defensive line. And at No. 4, the Philadelphia Eagles just restructured Mike Vick's contract. What all that adds up to is Smith possibly falling and the Cardinals or Bills wanting to snatch him up before the other has a chance to take him. The Jets, who hold the No. 9 pick, are underdogs to trade up for a quarterback, as they seem attached to Mark Sanchez but could choose to pull the trigger with the Browns again.
This draft class and the Browns' needs -- particuarly a pass rusher to insert into new defensive coordinator Ray Horton's 3-4 multi-front sceme -- seem to line up. Should the Browns only move down a couple of spots, they should be able to take one of the many talented pass rushers and build more draft stock later on.
This is a draft where, possibly, very little could separate quite a few players, creating a wider window of when a guy might be picked. If the Browns like one or a few and believe they'll be available later, it might be easier to make a deal. Only a few are safely thought to be top-10 picks, so here are a few later-round options.
The guards: As noted in this series, Alabama guard Chace Warmack -- like his former teammate Browns running back Trent Richardson -- plays a position not normally reserved for the top half of the draft but has the talent to buck the trend. Warmack is still a possible option for the Browns as a guy some think might be the best overall player in the class. But because he's a guard, the Browns could trade down and still get their man, adding to what would then be a high-caliber offensive line to grow together. A second guard exists that could be a first rounder in North Carolina's Johnathan Cooper, currently ranked as the 22nd best player by NFLDraftScout.com and 16th by Scout's Inc. Should Warmack drop, Cooper will drop even further, possibly in the late 20s or even the early second round.
The wide receivers: Right now, there isn't a wide receiver considered to be a top-10 pick. In recent years, the combine has been very good to receivers, allowing one or two to rocket up draft boards. If that doesn't happen, the Browns will be in a position to shore up their receiving corps later in the first round with one of two Tennessee products -- Cordarrelle Patterson or Justin Hunter -- along with California's Keenan Allen, a physical wideout who will draw slight comparisons to Baltimore's Anquan Boldin and West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin.
The possible falling pass rushers: With so many quality pass rushers, one or two could be in for a free fall on draft day as teams fill other needs. And a few have a slightly higher chance of sliding on draft day than others. This starts with Georgia's Jarvis Jones, who Kiper considers as the best player in this draft. Jones was diagnosed with spinal stenosis in 2009, however, and team doctors might not be willing to clear him. Though at some point, his talent will outweigh the risk. Another is Oregon's Dion Jordan, a supremely gifted athlete but a raw one at that. Jordan has as much potential as any defensive player in the draft but might not be a day-one-contributor like others. A third could be Barkevious Mingo of LSU. Mingo has all the tools and the word "terror in the NFL" has been attached to his name, but scouts are still confused over his lack of production during the 2012 season at LSU (four sacks). If Mingo struggles at the combine, scouts might begin to wonder if those traits on film will really translate to the NFL.
The quarterbacks: If a quarterback falls that the Browns' brass likes, the team could trade down and get a better value than at No. 6 to give incumbent starter Brandon Weeden competition. This could be the earlier group of three, and Tyler Bray of Tennessee, Tyler Wilson of Arkansas, Ryan Nassib of Syracuse or E.J. Manuel of Florida State might get a look either late in the first round or in the second round.
Later options: BYU defensive end/outside linebacker Ezekial Ansah might be a name to watch. He has a very rare combination of pure power and speed for his size. That being said, Ansah's ability as a well-rounded pass rusher remains in question. He could be an option for the Pittsburgh Steelers, picking at No. 17. Blidi Wreh-Wilson, a cornerback from Connecticut, has emerged as the No. 2 cornerback behind Alabama's Dee Milliner. The Browns certainly have a need at the other corner spot opposite Joe Haden, with Sheldon Brown turning 34 in March and heading for the open market in free agency and Buster Skrine struggling when pushed into a significant role last season. Another cornerback, Jonathan Banks of Mississippi State, has started to gain momentum, too. This is another position where the combine could reorder things.
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