And With the 6th Pick the Cleveland Browns Select... a LB?

The current Browns roster lists 12 linebackers.  Granted that some of these might play only in certain situations, on special teams, or in various other positions such as defensive end.  But 12 is a big number when current plans are to switch to a 4-3 featuring 3 linebackers on the field at a time.  That's a lot of backups.

The Browns linebackers are a versatile bunch.  You can spot them as gunners during kickoffs and, under the tutelage of defensive guru Rob Ryan, they lined up virtually anywhere on the field.  As a unit they were pretty effective but you would be hard-pressed to identify any of the Browns linebackers as a "force to be reckoned with" or a "difference maker".  There are some good players in the group particularly Scott Fujita, Matt Roth and Marcus Bernard but there is no one that would evoke the fear similar to that of Green Bay's Clay Matthews.  Most are definitely what could be called role-players that might not make rosters of other more developed teams.

One other significant factor is that the Browns are going from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3.  So are the current linebackers suited to the 4-3 scheme?  The coaches and front office must think so because they have retained most of the squad.  Outside linebackers in a 4-3 typically drop back into pass coverage and only rush the quarterback in blitzing situations.  The obvious choice for a linebacker at pick number 6 is Von Miller.  He is an excellent athlete with a lot of upside that has been a disruptive force in college.  The problem for the Browns is that he is more suited to a 3-4 in which he can use his skills as a pass rusher more often.  He could be converted to a DE but he is a bit undersized for a defensive end in the new scheme and it really wouldn't make sense to use such a high pick as a situational player.  I think the Browns will only take Von Miller with the 6th pick if 2 or 3 more desirable players are off the board by the time they pick.  Even so they might pass on Miller and trade down in the first round for a defensive end or wide receiver and then pick up a better-suited linebacker later on in the draft.

Browns Need Gauge:  3/4 Full - but is it premium?

Potential picks:  Von Miller, Akeem Ayers, Justin Houston, Bruce Carter


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