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Browns Mailbag: After free agency, what becomes biggest need in draft?

We’re heading into Easter Weekend with good answers to three of your great questions.

Before free agency, our biggest needs were QB, DB, WR, RB. The Browns have addressed each of these needs. If Shon Coleman is the man at LT, what are the Browns biggest needs now? -- Jarrod F., Erie, Pennsylvania

The key word in your question is “addressed.” That doesn’t mean fully satisfied. Cleveland made a lot of progress with its roster over the first couple of weeks to the 2018 league year. Nearly every position was, as you put it, addressed. The biggest acquisition was at quarterback -- where the Browns found their 2018 starter, Tyrod Taylor, in a trade with the Bills -- and the biggest emphasis was placed at cornerback, where the team added four players who all carry major starting experience.

This was all part of the long-term strategy Browns general manager John Dorsey and the team’s new-look front office plotted in the months leading up to the new league year.

“We sat and constructed it and part of the plan was to get certain players at certain positions to move this thing forward,” Dorsey said at this week’s owners meetings in Orlando. “We have done that. You never want to go into a draft hamstrung and say you have to force the issue. By doing it this way, you don't force your position in the draft. You have options and flexibility."

Still, the Browns aren’t satisfied, not with any position group on the roster. Some areas need more help than others, of course. From our standpoint, the following three can get the most help through next month’s draft.

Offensive tackle

Yes, the Browns have candidates to replace Joe Thomas, and it starts with Coleman, who started every game at right tackle last season. There’s just plenty of room for more, and Cleveland could do that as early as the second round, where it has picks No. 33, No. 35 and No. 64. A trade back into the first round can’t be ruled out with that type of draft capital at the team’s disposal. Cleveland is keeping all of its options open at the position, and adding a player capable of starting right away as a rookie to the competition seems like a plausible scenario.

Wide receiver

The Browns got a lot better at the position after Dorsey swung a trade with the Dolphins to net the NFL’s receptions leader, Jarvis Landry, but the group is in need of more competition to fill out the back end of the depth chart. The second round, again, could be a great place to strike. The strength of this year’s wide receiver class isn’t at the top; it’s the depth, and the Browns could be big beneficiaries of it.

Pass rushers

You can never have enough. Even after drafting Myles Garrett with last year’s No. 1 pick and even after it’s become clear Emmanuel Ogbah is a solid NFL starter on the opposite side of the line, the Browns, and every team in the NFL, are always searching for more, more, more in this area. It’s a broad enough label that can include players at multiple positions, too, as the Browns hope to generate just as much pressure from their interior linemen as they do from the outside. Cleveland could address this as early as the first round, as North Carolina’s Bradley Chubb has drawn comparisons to Garrett and stands far and away as this year’s top pass rusher.

With the recent additions in free agency in the secondary, do you think that the Browns will have an offensive focused draft? -- Brooks P., Cincinnati

That could very well be the case, and it very well couldn’t. Because of the aforementioned additions to the roster, the Browns won’t be pigeonholed into hammering away at specific positions early in the draft. Cleveland could end Day 2 with four offensive players but that could simply be a byproduct of how its board fell throughout the process. Cleveland is coming off an 0-16 season and simply looking for more good football players across the entire roster.

I heard Josh Cribbs is back helping train our punt and kick returners. If so, I think we could have another Cribbs in the making if we were able to pick up Christian Kirk in the second round along with last year’s pick, Jabrill Peppers. This could be the six points needed to finish our games. -- Jonathan S., Follansbee, West Virginia

Cribbs is back with the Browns as a special teams intern. His goal is to someday become a coach, and he’s starting from the bottom-up -- just like he did as a player. He’ll lend help where it’s needed when the Browns return to the practice field, and clearly he knows a thing or two about returning punts and kicks and playing gunner.

As for Kirk, the former Texas A&M star is an intriguing prospect who could very well be available when the Browns are on the clock to kick off the second round. He ranks second in NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock’s pecking order of the draft’s wide receivers and certainly boasts home run potential in the return game. He took back six punts for touchdowns over three seasons and added a kick return touchdown this past season.

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