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Cleveland Browns: Top free agency, NFL draft needs for 2017

By
The Sports Xchange
Cleveland Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) and Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) pose for a photo after the Steelers 27-24 win in sudden death overtime against the at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on January 1, 2017. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI
Cleveland Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) and Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) pose for a photo after the Steelers 27-24 win in sudden death overtime against the at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on January 1, 2017. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

As they wade through free agency and prepare to evaluate draft prospects at the Indianapolis Combine (March 1-6), the Cleveland Browns must decide which players to keep as they seek to improve upon their 1-15 record from last season.

The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com evaluated the Browns' roster and created a shopping list to use in free agency and to reference during the Combine.

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For the longest time, the Browns have been on a search for the quarterback they can build a contender around. Is this the year they find "the one?" Head coach Hue Jackson hopes so, whether it is in the draft or in a trade.

Aside from that, their priority is upgrading the pass rush and re-signing wide receiver Terrelle Pryor.

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THE BREAKDOWN

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2016 finish: 4th AFC North (1-15-0)

STATISTICS

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TOTAL OFFENSE: 311.0 (30th)

RUSHING: 107.0 (19th)

PASSING: 204.0 (28th)

TOTAL DEFENSE: 392.4 (31st)

RUSHING: 142.7 (31st)

PASSING: 249.8 (21st)

NEEDS, SHOPPING LIST

*UFA=Option not expected to be exercised; expected to be released

&=Released

TOP 3 NEEDS

QUARTERBACK

The Browns passed on a first-round quarterback in 2016 and should fill that hole with the first or 12th pick, either via trade (Jimmy Garoppolo?) or the draft.

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UFA TARGETS (Age, previous contract's average annual salary)

Kirk Cousins, Washington (29 in August, $19.95M)

*Tony Romo, Dallas (37 in April, $18M)

Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay (28 in December, $776K)

Brian Hoyer, Chicago (32 in October, $2M)

*Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo (28 in August, $18M)

*Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco (30 in November, $19M)

DRAFT TARGETS (Rating pos/overall, Player, School, Ht., Wt., 40 time, Proj. Rd.)

1/12 Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina, 6-3, 220, 4.74, 1 (underclassman)

2/20 DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame, 6-4, 230, 4.76, 1 (underclassman)

3/29 Deshaun Watson, Clemson, 6-2, 215, 4.64, 1-2 (underclassman)

4/70 Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech, 6-2, 229, 4.84, 2-3 (underclassman)

5/99 Brad Kaaya, Miami (FL), 6-4, 210, 4.84, 3

DEFENSIVE END

Myles Garrett of Texas A&M is rated the top end in the draft. He could be a perfect fit for the Browns' anemic pass rush.

UFA TARGETS (Age, previous contract's average annual salary)

Jason Pierre-Paul, N.Y. Giants (28, $10M)

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Calais Campbell, Arizona (DT; 31 in September, $11M)

Jabaal Sheard, New England (28 in May, $5.5M)

&Mario Williams, Miami (32, $8.5M)

Charles Johnson, Carolina (31 in July, $3M)

DRAFT TARGETS (Rating pos/overall, Player, School, Ht., Wt., Proj. Rd.)

1/1 Myles Garrett, Texas AM, 6-4, 268, 1 (underclassman)

2/3 Solomon Thomas, Stanford, 6-2, 275, 1 (underclassman)

3/17 Derek Barnett, Tennessee, 6-3, 265, 1 (underclassman)

4/28 Taco Charlton, Michigan, 6-5, 272, 1

5/32 Charles Harris, Missouri, 6-3, 255, 4.74, 1-2 (underclassman)

OFFENSIVE TACKLE

The Browns have to upgrade the offensive line at center, guard and right tackle after allowing a franchise-worst 66 sacks in 2016.

UFA TARGETS (Age, previous contract's average annual salary)

Andrew Whitworth, Cincinnati (36 in December, $9M)

*Russell Okung, Denver (29 in October, $10.6M)

Rick Wagner, Baltimore (28 in October, $576K)

Luke Joeckel, Jacksonville (G; 26 in November, $5.3M)

Matt Kalil, Minnesota (injury; 28 in July, $4.94M)

DRAFT TARGETS (Rating pos/overall, Player, School, Ht., Wt., 40 time, Proj. Rd.)

1/14 Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin, 6-5, 314, 5.29, 1 (underclassman)

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2/25 Cam Robinson, Alabama, 6-6, 310, 5.28, 1 (underclassman)

3/38 Garett Bolles, Utah, 6-5, 296, 4.97, 1-2 (underclassman)

4/53 Taylor Moton, Western Michigan, 6-5, 330, 5.31, 2

5/59 Roderick Johnson, Florida State, 6-6, 308, 5.34, 2 (underclassman)

UFA KEEPER

WR Terrelle Pryor (28 in June, $1.67M)

ROSTER REVIEW

MAJOR COACHING CHANGES

--DC Gregg Williams replaced Ray Horton.

--QB coach David Lee hired.

--Associate head coach/offense Pep Hamilton left.

DEPTH CHART

Starters and backups are listed according to their status at the end of the season, but players who were starters before being injured are included.

* Indicates player who ended 2016 season on reserve.

& Indicates player released since the Super Bowl.

QUARTERBACKS: Starter -- Robert Griffin III. Backups -- Cody Kessler, &Josh McCown, Kevin Hogan.

RUNNING BACKS: Starter -- Isaiah Crowell. Backups -- Duke Johnson, George Atkinson III, Darius Jackson, *Glenn Winston, *Rajion Neal, Danny Vitale.

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TIGHT ENDS: Starter -- Gary Barnidge. Backups -- Seth DeValve, Randall Telfer.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters -- Terrelle Pryor (UFA), Corey Coleman. Backups -- Andrew Hawkins, Rashard Higgins, Ricardo Louis, Mario Alford. *Josh Gordon, *Jordan Payton. *Dennis Parks, *Rannell Hall.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- LT Joe Thomas, *LG Joel Bitonio, C Cameron Erving, *RG John Greco, RT Austin Pasztor RT (UFA). Backups -- RG Alvin Bailey, C Anthony Fabiano, C Gabe Ikard, RT Shon Coleman, *C Austin Reiter.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- DLE Emmanuel Ogbah, NT Danny Shelton, *DRE Desmond Bryant. Backups -- DRE Jamie Meder, DRE Xavier Cooper, DRE Stephen Paea (UFA), NT Gabe Wright, DLE Carl Nassib, DLE Tyrone Holmes, *DLE Dylan Wynn, *NT Nile Lawrence-Stample.

LINEBACKERS: Starters -- WLB Cam Johnson, ILB Chris Kirksey, MLB Demario Davis, SLB Jamie Collins. Backups -- SLB Joe Schobert, MLB Dominique Alexander, ILB Tank Carder, *WLB Nate Orchard.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters -- LCB Joe Haden, RCB Jamar Taylor, *SS Derrick Kindred, FS Ed Reynolds. Backups -- LCB Briean Boddy-Calhoun, RCB Marcus Burley, &SS Tramon Williams, SS Ibraheim Campbell, FS Tracy Howard, FS Trey Caldwell, *FS Jordan Poyer (UFA).

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SPECIAL TEAMS: K Cody Parkey, P Britton Colquitt (UFA), LS Charley Hughlett, KOR/PR Mario Alford.

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