Greetham: Which way should they go?

OBR's Fred Greetham weighs in on whether Browns general manager Tom Heckert should pick a defensive lineman or wide receiver with the sixth pick.

As the Browns ready themselves for the NFL Draft, they are in a position to go in a lot of different directions. Usually, free agency is winding down before the draft and the positions the team addresses in free agency gives a pretty good indication of what direction they will go in the draft.

With the lockout, currently, there is no free agency, so it's hard to know what will happen.

In my opinion, the Browns biggest need on defense is on the defensive line. Likewise, on offense, their biggest need is at wide receiver. Since no players have been added via free agency, you could throw a dart at a position chart and where it lands is where the Browns could use help.

In my analysis, it appears there are really two potential game-changing wide receivers in A.J. Green and Julio Jones.

On the defensive line, it appears that there are as many as 10 players in Marcel Dareus, Nick Fairley, Robert Quinn, J.J. Watt, DaQuan Bowers, Cameron Jordan, Ryan Kerrigan, Adrian Clayborn, Cameron Heyward and Phillip Taylor.

Tom Heckert has to calculate that if the Browns take Green or Jones with the first pick, can they still get one of the top defensive linemen with the first pick in the second round? In contrast, if they go defensive line, can they get a receiver that can step in and be productive in later rounds?

I would not take a wide receiver at the top of the first round because there are too many cases where that player doesn't pan out. I would much rather see the team sign an unrestricted free agent. That player is a proven commodity and doesn't have to go through the growing pains of a rookie receiver.

With that being said, defensive linemen are not guarantees either. The names Courtney Brown and Gerard Warren come to mind.

If the Browns feel they can get a receiver later in the draft, they could draft a defensive lineman with their first two picks. As they make the transition from the 3-4 to the 4-3, impact players are needed, obviously, to make the new defensive scheme effective.

Even though I view the biggest needs being wide receiver and defensive line, I wouldn't be upset if the Browns take cornerback Patrick Peterson, if he's available. I think back to the glory years when the Browns had Pro Bowl cornerbacks in Frank Minnifield and Hanford Dixon. If Joe Haden and Peterson were paired, that could be a pretty good combination for a long time.

In a perfect world, I think it would be a good year for the Browns to trade down a few spots, if they could get another top player that could step right in and contribute. However, the biggest trouble is getting a trade partner. Hopefully, a team that covets a player that is available when the Browns draft at No. 6 will come up to get that player, and the Browns will be able to get another blue-chip player with another high pick.

In summary, it all comes down to where the Browns view what positions are the deepest and what is the best way to address multiple needs.


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