2012 NFL Mock Draft: Running Backs Popular Choices For Browns

The Cleveland Browns have arguably the toughest end to the season of any team in the NFL. With four of their last five games of the season coming against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens, the team's draft position is up in the air.

The Cleveland Browns have arguably the toughest end to the season of any team in the NFL. With four of their last five games of the season coming against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens, the team's draft position is up in the air.

Coming into this week's games, the Browns held the 10th pick of the first round. But the Browns are one of eight teams with a 4-7 record. Those eight teams currently hold picks seven through 14, where the gap in talent is large.

The Browns also currently have the 21st pick,in the first round. So now is as good of a time as any to look at some mock drafts to see who is being projected to the Browns.

- Chad Reuter, NFL Draft Scout/CBS Sports - mock draft

1st pick: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

Explanation: "The drama surrounding Peyton Hillis may keep the Browns from signing him to a contract extension. If this is the case, the talented Richardson should be on the Browns' radar."

2nd pick: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois

Explanation: "The Browns need another defensive end with the strength to play the run and quickness to rush the passer from the strong side."

Thoughts: The reasoning behind the first pick makes a lot of sense. If Hillis isn't extended, the Browns enter next season with an injury prone Montario Hardesty backed up by glorified practice squad players. The pick of Mercilus makes sense, but the local product of Akron-Garfield High School is really similar to current starting end Jabaal Sheard. The Browns may want more of a speed end to counter Sheard's strength on the edge.

- Rob Rang, NFL Draft Scout/CBS Sports - mock draft

1st pick: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

Explanation: " This season the revolving door at running back has stunted his development. Rather than gamble on another young quarterback, the Browns might be wise to simply take the best player on the board in Richardson, a virtual clone of Rams' Pro Bowler Steven Jackson."

2nd pick: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

Explanation: "The Browns feature one of the league's better young cover corners in Joe Haden, but have been inconsistent, at best, on the other side. Kirkpatrick has great size and is a physical press corner who could provide the Browns' with an athlete equally capable of providing lockdown coverage as Haden."

Thoughts: It's interesting that both went with Richardson as the top pick for the Browns. He's certainly the kind of player who should be able to contribute in the NFL immediately. Kirkpatrick is a risky choice for whomever drafts him. He's run hot and cold this season and was beaten a few times in Alabama's season opener against ghastly Kent State. In this mock draft, Stanford right tackle David DeCastro is still on the board. It would be hard to see the Browns pass him up for a second cornerback.

- Russ Lande, Sporting News - mock draft

1st pick: Matt Barkley, QB, USC

Explanation: "It has become clear that Colt McCoy is not a front-line starting quarterback. Barkley is a mechanically sound, smart and accurate passer who fits the Browns' offense perfectly."

2nd pick: Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin

Explanation: "It's clear that Peyton Hillis is not going to return and that Montario Hardesty can't stay healthy, so the Browns grab Ball, who has carried the Badgers' rushing attack on his shoulders."

Thoughts: It should be noted that in Lande's mock draft, he has the Browns with the fourth and 22nd picks. With that pick location, it would probably mean the Browns lost each of their five remaining games. If that happens, Colt McCoy might not deserve any more chances to be the team's starting quarterback. Ball is an interesting choice. He would fit perfectly in the offense but may not be worth that high of a choice. He's a strong runner with good vision and could break Barry Sanders' record for most touchdowns in a season.

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