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Cleveland Browns 2011 NFL Draft Preview: Who Are They Targeting?

The 2011 NFL Draft starts today. Who will Cleveland take with the sixth overall pick?

Who are the Cleveland Browns targeting with the sixth overall pick in the draft? That is the question fans have been wondering for months now as there does not seem to be one definitive player who seems guaranteed to be selected by the Cleveland Browns. Much of that has to do with the uncertainty of what the teams in front of Cleveland will do.

Before I get into my candidates for the team's first round picks, here is a Cleveland Browns Draft Board that the fans in our Browns community have compiled over the past couple of weeks.

Right now, there are three prospects that really intrigue me; I would put them in my "Tier 1" list in the following order:

Tier 1 Players

  • CB Patrick Peterson
  • DT Marcel Dareus
  • WR A.J. Green

If any of these three players are available, I don't see how general manager Tom Heckert passes on them. The defensive line and wide receiver positions are arguable the two biggest holes on the team right now. Peterson is the top-rated defensive back prospect in this year's class though and I think he would give the Browns a shutdown secondary. When you have such a superb unit like that, it allows the less-talented front seven to exceed expectations.

If Peterson is gone, then Dareus being paired with Ahtyba Rubin would make for a great duo in the middle of the defensive line. A defensive end could be found later in the draft, and the other end position can be found in free agency or the current roster (i.e. Matt Roth, Jayme Mitchell). If both of those players are gone, Green is the go-to-guy. He would instantly become the team's No. 1 receiver, allowing Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie to shift down to more natural positions on the depth chart.

The problem? Most projections have these Tier 1 players being taken before Cleveland picks. When the Browns are on the clock, in a best-case scenario, only one of these players will be available. I think Peterson has the best chance of still being there because I see Carolina taking a quarterback, Denver and Buffalo going with a defensive lineman or linebacker, and Cincinnati going quarterback or wide receiver. Arizona is the question mark in front of Cleveland, and there have been rumors that teams might try to trade up to the No. 5 spot to grab Peterson.

If all three players are gone, here are my Tier 2 players:

Tier 2 Players

  • WR Julio Jones
  • DE Robert Quinn (tie)
  • DT Nick Fairley (tie)

As the months have gone on, Jones has been touted as being just as good of a wide receiver prospect as Green. The latest mock drafts from the "experts" seem to be settling with Jones going to Cleveland. Some have speculated that Cleveland will trade down a few spots and hope Jones is still there. I don't see a trade down occurring with the risk of losing out on Jones; if the Browns want Jones and he is there, they will take him.

I'm a bit iffy on Quinn and Fairley. Quinn has had medical issues in the past and is supposedly fine, while Fairley's work ethic has been questioned. Both have the potential to be great, but they don't seem to be in the same class at my Tier 1 players who appear to be guaranteed "hits."

When the draft rolls around, I think we will be fortunate enough to get Peterson. In round two, the Browns should stay away from the wide receiver position. They already have two former second-round picks at the position; adding a third does not solve the depth chart problem of there not being a No. 1 receiver. The draft is deep at the defensive line position, and even if Cleveland has to reach a little, they should take a defensive tackle or defensive end in round two. We will be covering the Browns here at SB Nation Cleveland and on our Cleveland Browns affiliate, Dawgs By Nature, all through the draft, so make sure you tune in to both sites!

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.