1. Get USC linebacker Rey Maualuga.
This will require trading down, although I feel so strongly about the impact Maualuga would make on the Browns defense that I would take him at No. 5. Cleveland's defense lacks an identity and the hard-hitting, intimidating Maualuga is the presence it needs. I find it hard to believe that he wouldn't play on third down. Perhaps on many elite teams, but not a Browns unit devoid of stars. Maualuga is a game-changer, and even nose tackle Shaun Rogers couldn't do that during his 2008 Pro Bowl season. Granted, the only full game I saw Maualuga play last year was against Ohio State, but his interception changed the entire course of that evening.
2. A Buckeye tabbed.
Every year I have my favorite Ohio State player that I'd like the Browns to select. This goes back to center LeCharles Bentley when he was coming out. Anybody who punches a teammate in the nose (and is unafraid of the repercussions) is a guy I want in my huddle. This year I have two picks, receiver Brian Robiskie and linebacker Marcus Freeman. If the Browns do not acquire more picks, they may have to take a center at the top of round two over Robiskie. He could be a consideration at No. 29 if the trade with the Giants for Braylon Edwards comes off. Robiskie will be ready to play from day one, runs precise routes and rarely drops passes (although a big TD against LSU comes to mind). He's fast enough for me. I like Freeman's versatility and attitude, but he could be a third-round selection and right now the Browns have no picks in that round. Receiver Brian Hartline (projected to play in the slot) could also be a seventh-round steal.
3. Take Beanie if he falls.
I don't forsee it happening, but it might be an interesting dilemma if Garfield and Ohio State product Chris Wells is available at the top of the second round. I'd take him there in a heartbeat, especially since the Browns will have to find the heir apparent to running back Jamal Lewis somewhere in this draft. If Wells slips, he could also be available at No. 29. If he drops, I would get on the phone to make something happen, a la Brady Quinn in 2007. Granted all this is unlikely, but I remember the 1988 draft, when Browns PR director Kevin Byrne had all the members of the media write down who we wanted in round one. Mine was Michael Dean Perry, whom they ended up getting in round two. I also recall how desperately I wanted the Browns to go after Deuce McAllister when he slipped in the 2001 draft. The Browns rarely pounce on these situations.
4. Draft people we've heard of.
I don't have a problem with trying to find unknown gems, but would rather they be signed as rookie free agents. Two players taken from that football hotbed of UNLV -- cornerback Eric Wright and linebacker Beau Bell -- in the last two years made me nervous.
5. Don't let the next Josh Cribbs out of our backyard.
Whether it's a basketball player from Cleveland State or a wrestler from Kent State, the Browns should not fumble away the next Antonio Gates.