With the draft approximately one month away, the Browns are focused working out and evaluating the collegiate talent. Thanks to having three of the first fifty selections in the draft, head coach Eric Mangini and general manager George Kokinis have the opportunity to change the complexion of the roster immediately.
With that out of the way, let's get to what our sources are telling us about the team's preparations:
- Sitting with the fifth-selection in the draft, the Browns appear to be in a prime position to capture an impact player. At present, the Browns appear poised to listen to offers to move down in the first round and gain additional draft selections. As we hear it, the Browns do not want to move down further than the very early-teens on draft-day. They will be open to other offers, however, as they have many options on the player front. For new Browns brain trust, it is all about acquiring draft selections within the first three rounds of the draft, where the quality and depth are at its greatest.
- Widely believed to be the top player on the Browns draft board is linebacker Aaron Curry of Wake Forest. Some in league circles believe Curry could be the safest pick in the draft. The defensive standout is reliable and athletic. He plays well in a systematic setting, such as that planned for the Browns under head coach Eric Mangini and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. At the same time, Curry's system fit is an issue. The belief here is the Browns are considering seeking a more dynamic (and potentially less safe) presence if they hold their ground and select a player at number-five.
- The growing consensus regarding Brian Orakpo as a player on the Browns radar at the #5 slot is very reliable. Orakpo played in a system while at Texas that helped him become somewhat familiar with the OLB position he would play in the Browns 3-4 scheme. While the stat sheet would beg the question of how Orakpo could be envisioned as a potential top-five pick, his physical ability projects very well as a pass-rushing OLB at the professional level. The Browns are interested… the question is just how much interest the Browns have, particularly at such a vital position such as a 3-4 OLB in Cleveland.
- If the Browns can pull off a draft-day trade and move down slightly, the organization is much more compelled to look at ILB Rey Maualuga, defensive back Malcolm Jenkins, offensive tackle Andre Smith or QB Matt Stafford. Depending on the scenario, the organization believes they will to get a quality player despite trading down.
- One player that appeared to catch the Browns' attention - only to later slide back in the pack - is defensive end Everette Brown. Brown will not be considered with the fifth overall selection but could be considered if the Browns trade down in the first round. Another player of interest is OLB Brian Cushing. While not viewed as being on the same level as Orakpo, Cushing is a player who shouldn't discounted as a drop-down option in the first round.
- The Browns have been impressed with the available running backs. Javon Ringer and Shonn Greene have impressed, while Beanie Wells worked out as expected. A couple names to remember as the draft gets beyond the initial stages are Donald Brown and Rashad Jennings. Both players have caught the eye of scouts across the league, as well as those associated with the Browns. At this time, Ringer and Brown have garnered the most of the Browns attention. The team appears set to find their running back of the future next month.
- Interestingly, the Browns and Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers have kept a keen eye on a center this off-season. Cal's Alex Mack is hands-down the top-center prospect in this draft and three of the AFC North division teams are looking hard at the lineman. In a division dominated by tough interior line play, Mack has the physical size and strength to combat the likes of Casey Hampton, Haloti Ngata and Shaun Rogers. Indications are that one of the teams may look to grab Mack in the second-half of the first round.