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Rebuilding Browns looking for help
BEREA, OHIO (AP) - Let’s see, a game-changing wide receiver for quarterback Colt McCoy. A get-after-the-quarterback pass rusher for new coach Pat Shurmur’s defensive front. A right tackle. A linebacker or two. A few special team-types with upside. Maybe a kicker or a cornerback.
The Cleveland Browns have a lengthy shopping list for the NFL draft. In fact, there isn’t much they don’t need.
“We have some holes to fill all over the place,” general manager Tom Heckert said. “We still have holes on offense and defense.”
The question is: which ones to fill first?
With the No. 6 overall selection on Thursday night and three picks in the Top 70, the Browns, who have spent the past decade in rebuilding mode and again changed coaches this winter, hope to plug some of those openings and address shortcomings they’ve yet to fix.
Uncertainty at the top of the draft board makes it hard to guess who may be available when the Browns’ turn arrives in Round One. Heckert intends to abide by the team’s philosophy of taking the best player available _ regardless of position or need.
“Everybody says that, but we are going to try to do that,” said Heckert, who had a strong draft last year. “We are probably in a better position to do that than some teams. Some teams may be one or two positions away from being really good, so I think it’s probably a positive for us that we can sit there and take the best available player.”
There’s certainly enough quality atop Cleveland’s draft board to get help. LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson, Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green, Clemson defensive end Da’Quan Bowers, Texas A&M linebacker Vonn Miller, North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn, Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones and Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley could all be in play for the Browns.
Publicly, at least, the Browns have been saying they don’t need a quarterback. McCoy showed enough promise last season _ and not with a lot of help _ to convince Heckert and team president Mike Holmgren that it’s worth investing another full season into his development.
Still, they’ll likely pick a quarterback at some point.
Beyond that, it’s vital that Cleveland upgrades its wide receiving corps for McCoy, who will be running Shurmur’s West Coast offense, a passing heavy attack that requires receivers to run crisp routes _ and over the middle.
With size, speed and strength, Green and Jones are ideal fits. Heckert said both are suited for the Browns’ new system.
Heckert was particularly effusive during a pre-draft news conference in praising Jones, who caught 78 passes for 1,133 yards last season. Jones played through injuries and put his toughness on display at the NFL Combine, where he ran a 4.34 40-yard dash, two days after learning he had a stress fracture in his foot.
“It shows how tough the kid is,” Heckert said. “He’s obviously a good player. He is a big, fast kid. He is a great kid and I think he is a really good player.”
Heckert, though, could be reluctant to use a Top 10 pick on a wide receiver. He’s seen that patience can pay handsomely.
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