Per an annual tradition, WaitingForNextYear presents its annual NFL Draft predictions. We hope you enjoy our takes and we look forward to watching — for better and for worse — tonight with you at the Map Room.
1) It’s Draft Day. In your prediction, what will the Cleveland Browns end up doing in the first round?
Jacob: After all the talk and all the rumors, I think the Browns stay put and pick at an area of great need: Cornerback. I’ll share my thoughts on Alabama CB Dee Milliner later. But I think he’s a perfectly fine pick at No. 6 and the Browns will stick there.
Kirk: The Browns will trade down into the 11-13 range, gaining a second round pick, and select quarterback EJ Manuel. We all know that Weeden isn’t Banner or Lombardi’s guy, and I forsee the Browns taking a QB, even if it’s not what I would do with the pick at all. The Browns seldom make me happy on draft day, and I expect that tradition to continue.
TD: I think all the talk is a total smoke screen. They desperately need a CB and I think like the fact that Dee Milliner’s medical history is an issue all of a sudden. I believe they want the Lions to pass on him and would snap him up at 6 in a heartbeat.
Scott: The Browns will be forced to wait until the final minute or so of their clock in hopes that a team is willing to trade up to the sixth slot. I’m presently erring on the side of this happening, allowing them to trade down to the 11th spot (everyone believes San Diego wants to move); the 12th (Miami) and 13th (Now the Jets thanks to their trade of Revis) are also in play. If this happens, I expect them to take Tyler Eifert or Alabama OG Chance Warmack. If they’re stuck at six, it’s a crapshoot between Milliner and a linebacker—my guess is Barkevious Mingo.
Craig: West Virginia QB Geno Smith. They’re slow playing it. I just wanted someone in this questionnaire to say Geno’s name.
Ryan: The Browns will trade down to 11 with San Diego and take DE/OLB Jarvis Jones from Georgia. The national media has been hyping this trade all week, giving the Chargers the tackle they crave as well as gives the Browns the second rounder back that they spent on Josh Gordon. The Browns would love Jarvis Jones who was at the top of draft boards last fall. Not to mention he fits right into team history with his mysterious neck injury.
Rick: What will the Browns end up doing in the first round? How about the wrong thing? I wish I had more of a positive feeling about this one. I don’t. My gut says they trade down and take one of the pass rushers.
2) What would be your best-case scenario for the Browns in the first-round, instead of just a prediction?
Ryan: Best case scenario the Browns trade down, pick up a second rounder, and draft Chance Warmack. He was one of the best players on the best team in college football the last few seasons and will make an impact from day one starting at guard. All accounts have him as a can’t miss prospect. Who cares if he is a guard? If he is the highest rated player on the board then take him. Weeden and Trent will be thankful.
Scott: Best-case scenario for me is Oregon OLB Dion Jordan falling to six and the team turning in their card with nine minutes still left on their clock. Second-best would be trading down and acquiring a second-rounder. I should add that I’ll be furious if they move down and do not add a second-round pick and settle for something of lesser value. They’re picking sixth for a reason. Make it count.
Kirk: This is a tie between the following two scenarios for me. 1) Dion Jordan falls to six and the Browns select him. 2) The Browns trade down (in a similar setup as above) and get LSU DE/OLB Barkevious Mingo. I love the build of both of these guys for a 3-4 pass rushing linebacker, and I think it may be the best move for solidifying an improving defense.
TD: Best case – Milliner falls to them at 6 and they snag him. Then they trade back into the late first to draft a completely sliding Geno Smith.
Craig: Best-case scenario would be trading down a couple spots and getting a second rounder to use on a pass rusher while getting a top corner in the first round. Build that defense and let that offense figure out how to work with Trent Richardson and Josh Gordon.
Rick: My best case scenario for the first round? I would say the Browns trade down with the Dolphins at 11, pick up an additional second rounder, and still get the guy they like best. Not realistic, but that would be the best I can think of. A high quality player and a second round pick.
Jacob: Best-case scenario has to be a trade. This team has too many holes on its depth chart — secondary, offensive guard, tight end, another OLB/DE threat. Even in a best-case scenario, the Browns will win 7 or 8 games in 2013; that just shows how it’s still about quantity of quality players. I’d love to see BYU DE Ezekiel Ansah in Cleveland, if this is the case.
3) Dee Milliner appears to be the consensus favorite for the Browns at No. 6. What are your thoughts on him in Cleveland?
TD: I’m on board with Milliner. Give me a top cover corner to go with Joe Haden. The secondary as it is currently constructed is a disaster waiting to happen. Milliner has played in the big games and has produced in them. He won’t be phased at the next level.
Rick: Dee Milliner- I wouldn’t be upset at all with a solid starting corner. If Milliner is that player, then I’m fine with him at 6.
Ryan: I would be very happy if Millner became a Brown. The news of his offseason surgeries doesn’t scare me too much, I’d like to think the Browns have done their homework and will know what they’re getting health wise if they select him. It concerns me though that he might not be ready for training camp, but the thought of pairing a big, physical corner alongside Haden is very exciting. The thought of Skrine pairing with Haden, not so much.
Jacob: I’m perfectly fine with Milliner ending up in Cleveland. The injury and surgery issues aren’t a major concern to me. What matters most is if he can play by September and if he will be a significant upgrade over the team’s existing options. Both should be true. He’s a legitimate top-10 prospect.
Craig: Milliner will probably be just fine. I don’t really know how elite he will be, but I think you can plug him in opposite Joe Haden right away and not worry too much about it. That’s a tremendous score coming out of the draft if it were to come to pass.
Kirk: I would not be disappointed at all if they wind up with Milliner. I think he’s the most realistic option for them at 6 if they don’t trade down. I think down the road, it won’t be the most cost-effective thing in the world to have two top six picks at corner in Haden and Milliner, but it sure will be fun to watch.
Scott: I’d love Milliner in Cleveland. He’s only behind Dion Jordan on my board of infinite wisdom. He’s the best cornerback available, the Browns need a cornerback having squandered every opportunity to add one in free agency. It just makes too much sense.
4) If they do trade down, what is your predicted deal? What picks would we be looking at and who do you see the Browns taking in the first round instead?
Craig: If they trade down and amass picks, I could see them going off the board a bit and taking a secondary position like Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert.
Kirk: See above. I could also easily see Jarvis Jones or Tyler Eifert after a trade down as well.
Scott: Whomever is willing to give up a second-rounder, I’m on board. Of the teams I listed earlier, preferably the Jets as they’ll be picking seventh in the second round. This would essentially make up for the Browns missing out on the 38th-overall pick due to their selection of Josh Gordon. There, I’d like to see either Eifert or Warmack—both men are essentially risk-free and would be selected with solid value in the teens. But I reiterate that they MUST get a second-rounder in return to make a move.
Ryan: The Browns will trade down to 11 with San Diego and take DE/OLB Jarvis Jones from Georgia. The Browns will get the second rounder back that they spent on Josh Gordon as well as swapping one of the Chargers’ late round picks for an even later pick The Browns own.
Rick: I think if they trade down, it will end up being with San Diego at 11 or one of the Minnesota picks (23 or 25). If it is the Vikings, they get a second (pick 52) and a fourth (pick 102).
Jacob: I’ve long said that No. 11 with the Chargers makes sense for the Browns. The Chargers are in desperate need of lots of help and if a run on offensive tackles is occurring as many predict, they’ll want to leapfrog Arizona at No. 7. In such an instance, I could see Cleveland being just happy with landing Jarvis Jones at No. 11.
TD: If the Browns do trade down, I’d like to see them somehow snag a second round pick. I don’t think that would happen, a third would be more realistic. Seems like the 11 spot with San Diego is ideal and logical. But if they do trade down, I hope it isn’t for a QB. I’d rather see them pick Barkevious Mingo or Chance Warmack.
5) Will the Browns be drafting a QB at all in the 2013 Draft? If so, who is the most likely to end in Cleveland?
Kirk: I wish they wouldn’t, because this team has a much better chance of improving by focusing on other holes. However, I do anticipate them taking a QB in either Smith or Manuel. If it’s not one of those two, I don’t really see them taking a project QB. I think Manuel is more likely at this point, because Geno could be off the board by 6 anyway.
Jacob: Begrudgingly, I’m predicting yes. I just hope it’s not before the third round; but again, I’m leaning toward a yes. From Rob Chudzinski’s comments earlier this week, I’m leaning toward the Browns taking E.J. Manuel with their third round pick as the most-likely option.
Rick: I can see the Browns drafting EJ Manuel. And honestly, would you blame them for wanting a plan B?
Scott: I do think that the Browns will add a quarterback, but it’ll be either late Friday or at some point on Saturday. EJ Manuel seems to have his name out there and would make a decent addition with a third-round pick assuming the team can add a bridge between the first and third rounds.
Ryan: The Browns will draft quarterback at some point in this draft. I think it comes in the middle-late rounds as other needs are more pressing and easier to fill. I think they’ll go after Haslam’s Tennessee boy, Tyler Bray. He has a big frame with a big arm and already looks good in orange.
TD: Yes. I think they have their eyes on someone in particular but I can’t figure out who. My guess is they like EJ Manuel from Florida State. If they were to get him, they’d have to trade up to the end of the first or the start of the second.
Craig: I think they’ll miss out on Geno despite my answer to the first question. Still, it wouldn’t surprise me if they took one much later on.
6) Of all the first-round options on the board, which of the prospects would have you most excited for the 2013 season and why?
Scott: I’ll go back to my top two players in Jordan and Milliner. There’s something about being able to have a weapon that can change a drive at any point in time. Clay Matthews can do this. DeMarcus Ware can do this. JJ Watt can do this. I think that Jordan can be that game-changer on the edge. I’d be fine with Mingo there, but Jordan’s my guy. Milliner is another given what his presence, along with Haden, could mean for the team’s pass-rush. If both sides of the field are covered for just an extra second on each pass play, Ray Horton’s 3-4 should take care of the rest. If either of these men are wearing Orange and Brown come Friday at sunrise, I’ll be thrilled.
Ryan: Tavon Austin. Just spend 10 minutes on YouTube watching his highlight tapes and try not to be excited by this guy. His athleticism and versatility make me salivate over the things you could do with him in your offense. If somehow the Browns end up with Austin, I hope they’re creative enough to get the most out of his talents.
TD: Milliner, Warmack, Tavon Austin.
Craig: I’ve really talked myself into Mingo lately. That’s a guy at a position where I think the Browns can get immediate dividends. I also long for the days of a dominant defense in Cleveland. With the way free agency played out, I think the Browns are really close to being a crew that can disrupt offenses consistently. So if they got Mingo I’d almost be giddy to see them trot the defense out there with the other team pinned inside their own twenty instead of dreading the 80+ yard drive.
Rick: The two players that I have ‘studied’ the most and intrigue me are Milliner and Dion Jordan. Both would give the Browns a real boost on defense.
Jacob: Most excited means that I feel most comfortable about an area where the Browns truly were abysmal in 2012. That’s the secondary. How many times did we see Sheldon Brown or Buster Skrine get absolutely torched? Cleveland fans love Joe Haden. They’ll fall in love with the team’s second top-7 cornerback from the SEC: Dee Milliner.
Kirk: It would have to be Milliner. It fills the greatest hole, it gives you a pair of corners to matchup with any wide reciever duo in the NFL, and it gives your defense another playmaker. It would give the Browns the best chance for a strong defense next season, though I think I would prefer Jordan or Mingo for the long haul.