With the Draft getting ever closer, we are starting to get a better idea of who will be available for each team, and who they will probably end up drafting. All of the speculation over the past few months has turned into some educated guesses, and believe me, that's an important step.
For most of this process we have seen one of two positions mocked to the Browns more than any others; defensive line and wide receiver. I don't think the Browns needs for those positions has changed, but I do think that the prospects that will be available when they pick have certainly shifted a little bit. So instead of just guessing, let's try to see if we can figure out who might be on the board by trying to peg the five picks ahead of the Browns with our friend Mel Kiper.
At this point it appears pretty likely that the Carolina Panthers will take Cam Newton if they keep the first overall pick. He isn't a need for the Browns, so that's not so much of a big deal.
Kiper says the second overall pick will come down to Von Miller or Marcell Dareus. I think it is also safe to assume that whichever player the Broncos don't take second overall will go the Buffalo Bills with the very next pick because the two teams have very similar needs. So with three picks down, we have Miller, Dareus and Newton off the board.
The Bengals are a little bit harder to project ar No. 4. They have been projected to take Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert, but that is not a certainty by any means. If the Browns are serious about getting A.J. Green, then this would be the only potential roadblock. Kiper says that if he had that choice to make, he would take Green.
If the Draft plays out this way, then the Cardinals will likely take LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson with the fith overall pick. The only positions they need more than cornerback are quarterback and OLB. So if all of those prospects (Newton, Gabbert and Miller) are off the board, I think they take Peterson and are pretty happy with their selection.
So that Brings us to the Browns at No. 6. If Green is on the board, then he is the pick. But if he does in fact go to the Bengals, then some other prospects that might interest them are Clemson DE Da'Quan Bowers, Auburn DT Nick Fairley and UNC OLB Robert Quinn. Of those players, I think the pick would be Bowers if his knee checks out, Quinn if it doesn't.
But we can cross that bridge when we come to it. I think the Bengals know that Carson Palmer is serious about his threat of retirement, and so they will take Gabbert to replace him. That leaves A.J. Green on the board for the Browns, and I believe that he will be the pick.
For more coverage leading up to next week's NFL Draft, check out the latest 2011 NFL Mock Draft at SBNation.com and visit our blog, Mocking The Draft.