This is the 20th 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 brought a new, daily posting leading up the NFL Scouting Combine on Wednesday.
With the combine set to begin tomorrow, we take a look at the 10 players with the most to gain this week in Indianapolis.
1. Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o -- It's unfortunate that Te'o is at this spot, but it's the situation. The Lennay Kekua hoax left (many, many) more questions than answers. Te'o admitted to lying at times, and at best, he appears to be naive. Every team that talks about him will have to ask about this. There are a couple of players on this list who have a lot more to gain or lose based on the off-the-field evaluation, and Te'o is certainly leading that pack. He's currently slotted to be picked somewhere late in the first round, possibly to the Cincinnati Bengals at No. 21 or the Baltimore Ravens at No. 32. But if he can ease teams' minds on this situation, he could move up a couple of spots.
2. Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones -- Jones is thought by some (ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr.) to be the best player on the board but might not be selected in the first half of the first round because of a 2009 diagnosis of spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal column that puts pressure on the spine. Southern California team doctors wouldn't clear him to play, and he then transferred to Georgia after his freshman season. Teams will key in on Jones' health, but if he isn't cleared to play, he'll fall, some think to the Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 17 overall. But if Jones' health checks out, he's a safe bet for the top-10. Mike Mayock of NFL Network said Monday Jones would be a good fit for the Browns at No. 6.
3. Oregon defensive end Dion Jordan -- Jordan perhaps has the biggest label of "athletic freak" that gets thrown around a lot this time of year as a long, lengthy pass rusher who's able to drop back in coverage and is fluid in space. Jordan's draft stock is also fluid at this point with analysts slotting him between No. 5 and the mid-20s. If Jordan can show he's as athletic as he looks on film, his potential could place him in the top 10.
4. Louisiana State defensive end Barkevious Mingo -- Mingo is in a similar situation as Jordan but took a very different path to get there. Jordan was a converted tight end who's gained momentum as a late riser. Mingo was the No. 1 prospect when going to LSU and a thought for the No. 1 overall pick heading into this past season before a lack of production made scouts scratch their heads. Had Mingo churned out, say nine sacks instead of four, he might be a lock for the top five. He'll have to reaffirm his athleticism to scouts as they question why it didn't translate to the field. That's the general thought -- but looking at Mingo and Jordan's stats the past two years, they're within a count of two in tackles, tackles for loss and sacks.
5. Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson -- The combine has been very good to receivers in recent years, allowing a mid-first-round prospect to run a good 40-yard dash time and grab a place in the top 10. Patterson has very little film after playing only one season at Tennessee (where he set a few team and SEC records), so his week in Indianapolis might carry a lot of weight in his draft stock. Patterson is slotted around the middle of the first round and will have to do a lot to break into the top 10, but it's possible.
6. Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree -- It's never a good time to get a DUI. And for an NFL prospect set to make a lot of money to get one less than a week before the combine is certainly less than ideal. Ogletree will now spend his time answering questions about it, and about past issues. He was suspended for the first four games of the 2012 season at Georgia for a violation of team rules that was later reported to be a violation of the team's drug-abuse policy. This second offense could push him out of the first round entirely.
7. Brigham Young defensive end Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah -- Ansah is a name to watch because not many move like him and have his strength -- he could really impress in a workout and raise his draft stock when working next to the other great pass rushers in this draft. Ansah is often slotted to the Steelers at No. 17. He'll have to pass the likes of Mingo, Jordan, Florida State's Bjoern Werner and Texas A&M's Damontre Moore to rise up teams' draft boards, but the combine is his best chance.
8. Cincinnati defensive end Walter Stewart -- Mayock raised some eyebrows Monday when he said if Stewart checked out medically, he could be a top-10 pick. Stewart was born without a posterior C1 arch of the vertebra. What this means is that the a hit at just the right angle could paralyze him. He hasn't played for Cincinnati since Oct. 30, and NFL team doctors might not clear him. If he were to become cleared, he instantly becomes a name to know.
9. Louisiana State cornerback Tyrann Mathieu -- Mathieu went from Heisman finalist to unemployed about as quick as anyone ever has. Mathieu was suspended, then kicked off LSU, and was then caught with marijuana again afterward. He has first-round talent but the fact that Les Miles kicking him off the team apparently didn't wake him up means he'll be answering a lot of questions that have nothing to do with backpedals. Mathieu could be drafted in the second or third round, but will have to interview well to do so.
10. Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner -- Milliner is ranked by some media outlets as the No. 3 overall player but if teams choose to address their pass rush or a run of quarterbacks takes over the top 10, Milliner could slide. As with receivers, a solid combine can solidify draft stock pretty quickly. Browns cornerback Joe Haden back in 2010 ran a poor 40-yard dash and it was thought he might no longer be the top corner in the draft. He then had to impress at his pro day. A solid workout by Milliner locks him into the top half of the first round.
Note: South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore is not in the top 10 because these rankings pertains to the Browns, who just took Trent Richardson with the No. 3 overall pick last year. Still, Lattimore can't be forgotten entirely. Not since Willis McGahee tore everything in his knee against Ohio State in Jan. of 2003 has one injury left more people cringing and some hitting replay. Lattimore was the definite top option at running back before the injury and has a lot of ground to gain if he checks out at the combine.
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