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Cleveland Browns 2003 Draft Preview

By Bryan McGovern, NFL Editor

(Sports Network) - The Cleveland Browns will be one of the teams in the mix to make a trade or two on draft weekend. Butch Davis could move up in the first round or deal for extra picks with WR Kevin Johnson as trade bait.

The club needs to replace all three of its starting linebackers -- Jamir Miller, Earl Holmes and Dwayne Rudd. Ex-Eagle Barry Gardner was signed as a free agent, but more help is needed. One of the team’s biggest goals is to improve its overall speed.

The 21st overall pick could be used on one of the top linebackers in the draft, either Boss Bailey (OLB, Georgia) or E.J. Henderson (ILB, Maryland). However, the Browns might not have a shot at either player when they jump on the clock at 21. Bailey, who has 4.4 speed, would be a huge addition, but the former Georgia star is expected to go in the top 15. A trade up to get him is not out of the question. Bailey, the brother of Washington CB Champ Bailey, is over past knee problems and has the ability to wreak havoc from sideline to sideline. The other top ‘backers in the draft are Terry Pierce (ILB, Kansas State) and Gerald Hayes (LB, Pittsburgh), and they are both projected to go in round two. The team has such a need for linebackers that it could select as many as three over the course of its seven picks.

If the Browns don’t get a shot at either Bailey or Henderson and the price to trade up is too steep, Davis could turn his attention to the offensive line in round one. Stanford’s Kwame Harris is a no-brainer choice if he slips to 21. Iowa’s Eric Steinbach, who can play guard or tackle, and George Foster (Georgia) are other first-round possibilities, while Florida State’s Brett Williams could be nabbed in round two. The team could think about a run- blocking guard in the second or third round. Torrin Tucker (Southern Miss) and Anthony Davis (Virginia Tech) are potential targets.

Cleveland’s need for a cornerback could urge Davis to take one as early as the first round. Terence Newman (Kansas State) and Marcus Trufant (Washington State) are the top two CBs in the draft, but neither player will be around at 21. Davis could consider Oklahoma’s Andre Woolfolk in the first round. The need, however, likely will be addressed on day two with a speedy player like DeJuan Groce (Nebraska), Donald Strickland (Colorado), Roderick Babers (Texas), Cedric Henry (Michigan State), Asante Samuel (Central Florida) or Ivan Taylor (Louisiana-Lafayette). The club will look to add a safety prospect later in the draft.

The Browns would like to add to their defensive line with one or two of their seven selections. Davis needs a massive run-stuffing tackle and a pass-rushing end. The team could pull the trigger on one of these holes at any point in the draft. Since there will be a run on defensive linemen in the first 20 picks, the Browns might be better off waiting to dip into the pool. The team might be able to get a player like Florida DT Ian Scott in the third round, while Jarret Johnson (DL, Alabama), Dan Klecko (DT, Temple), Calvin Pace (DE, Wake Forest), Jimmy Wilkerson (DL, Oklahoma) and Matt Walters (DL, Miami) are fourth- and fifth-round candidates.

DRAFT NEEDS: Linebacker, offensive line, cornerback, defensive line, safety.

DRAFT PICKS: 1st round (#21 overall); 2nd round (#52); 3rd round (#84); 4th round (#115); 5th round (#142 from Minnesota); 5th round (#152); 6th round (#195).

RECENT FIRST ROUND HISTORY: 2002 - William Green (RB, Boston College); 2001 - Gerard Warren (DT, Florida); 2000 - Courtney Brown (DE, Penn State); 1999 - Tim Couch (QB, Kentucky); 1995 - Craig Powell (LB, Ohio State); 1994 - Antonio Langham (CB, Alabama), Derrick Alexander (WR, Michigan); 1993 - Steve Everitt (C, Michigan); 1992 - Tommy Vardell (FB, Stanford); 1991 - Eric Turner (S, UCLA); 1990 - none.

04/22 15:18:37 ET

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