Columnist Court Weston will be breaking down the team needs for all 32 NFL teams this off-season. Next up, the Browns…
1. Running Back – Peyton Hillis’ time in Cleveland appears to be over. Although the mid-to-late season success of backup Chris Obgonnaya is promising for a position that requires depth, it is hard to believe the Browns would pass up Alabama running back Trent Richardson if he is on the board at No. 4. Richardson is the clear-cut No.1 player at his position in the 2012 draft.
2. Middle Linebacker – Statistically speaking, Cleveland had a top-10 defense in 2011 (10th overall), and featured the No. 2-ranked pass defense. However, the Browns found their problems were prevalent in the run game. Cleveland ranked 30th at stopping the run, which is partly due to the linebacking corps. D’Qwell Jackson thrived in the 4-3 scheme, but he cannot do everything on his own. Jackson is a free agent, but it is unlikely he would move elsewhere. Although much help is needed, this position becomes priority No. 1 if Jackson does not return.
3. Right Tackle – Left tackle could not be more solid with Joe Thomas controlling Colt McCoy’s blind side. The opposite side is a different. There aren’t too many teams that Tony Pashos would be starting for, yet he does just that for Cleveland. In order to keep McCoy upright and give the Browns a fighting chance at success, this spot needs to be upgraded.
4. Wide Receiver – Greg Little looks like a potential stud, but Cleveland lacks depth and talent at the vital receiver position. Mohamed Massaquoi has shown flashes, but he has been inconsistent and, at times, unreliable. It is unlikely the Browns will land an elite wideout in free agency, but this year’s free agent class is so deep they could sign a solid veteran.
5. Offensive Guard – Eric Steinbach is among the best guards in football, but the nine-year vet battled injuries last year, causing concern on a developing offensive line. Expect Cleveland to add depth at the position in free agency, as well as try to find a player in the draft to replace Shawn Lauvao, who should not be a starting guard in the NFL.
Previously: The Minnesota Vikings
Next: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers