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Browns Mailbag: Would Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott be a reach at No. 2?

The Browns are just a few days away from being back in Berea for Phase 1 of offseason workouts.

Less than a month from now, the first of Cleveland's 10 draft picks will be submitted to the league office.

The latter elicited far more questions of interest for this week's mailbag, but that will change soon enough by default when the drafted players join the rest of the Browns for OTA's.

Had you asked this question just a few years ago, the answer would be a simple one. No, it would not be a reach to draft a running back most believe to be the best at the position, especially one that is 100 percent healthy and hails from a powerhouse like Ohio State, with the No. 2 pick. In 2005 and 2006, Ronnie Brown and Reggie Bush were selected with the No. 2 pick in back-to-back drafts. Adrian Peterson went seventh, Darren McFadden went fourth, C.J. Spiller went ninth. This was the way it was.

In recent years, though, that trend has gone by the wayside as NFL offenses air it out with more regularity and increasingly embrace a running back-by-committee approach. In 2013 and 2014, the first running back off the board didn't hear his name called until the second round. Last year was a bit of a throwback, with Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon going in the first round, but only eight running backs total were selected in the first three rounds.

Which brings us back to Elliott, a very special running back whose stock has only risen since he capped his college career with 149 yards and four touchdowns against Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.'s analysts write he has an "elite combination of vision and decisiveness" and predict he could "come out of the gates as one of the most productive young running backs in the league." Speculation has linked him to the Dallas Cowboys, who hold the No. 4 pick, so a trade down from No. 2 likely wouldn't guarantee an available Elliott for the Browns if that were their ultimate goal.

So is No. 2 a possibility? Only if the Browns, who have used first-round picks on running backs twice since 1999, conclude he's the best available player. ESPN's Scouts Inc. ranks Elliott as the fifth-best overall player in this year's draft, so it's certainly not a reach to think he's at least in the conversation. Cleveland coach Hue Jackson has praised his young tandem of running backs, Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson, on multiple occasions throughout the offseason, but he hasn't hesitated to say he hopes to improve the Browns at every single position. There are certainly greater positions of need on Cleveland's roster, but it's hard to definitively rule out anything at this point with a new coach and reorganized front office leading the way into 2016.

As Pro Days ramp up ahead of the NFL Draft, take a look back at the Browns during their own Pro Days.

Would like to know if there is any interest in Kevin Hogan? Doesn't seem to be getting any love from the "draft gurus" but the guy has it above the shoulders and he's a winner. Should be a bargain in the draft and allow us to use our first couple rounds for some other key positions. -- Kris H., Fairmont, West Virginia

Hogan's an intriguing prospect at quarterback simply because of the program he hails from (Stanford), the pro-style offense he operated and his prototypical size (6-foot-3, 218 pounds, 10 ¼ inch hands). The knock on him, though, according to, are his mechanics and footwork. It didn't hamper his ability in college, as he led the Pac-12 in short-yardage pass accuracy, but the NFL is a completely different animal. Bills GM Doug Whaley made headlines earlier this month when he called Hogan the most "pro-ready quarterback in the draft" but specified that applied to just his team because of the similarities in Stanford's and Buffalo's offenses. It remains to be seen if that applies to the Browns. He's expected to be a Day 3 pick and should be a player to monitor, even if the Browns take a quarterback early in the draft.

I don't hear much talk at all about Braxton Miller and the Browns but the thought of him in Hue Jackson's offense ... #Playmaker -- Anthony S., Cleveland

The buzz with Miller has dropped off a bit since the Combine after Miller failed to meet some unrealistic projections for his 40-yard dash time. It seems more and more likely he'll be available Day 2. Jackson has talked at length about improving the wide receiver position, and the addition of Miller certainly would contribute to it. Miller doesn't exactly meet the "bigger" aspect of what Jackson laid out when detailing his goals at wide receiver, but he certainly fits into "faster."

Tell me, what's the difference between a running backs coach and a run game coordinator? Is it just name only or will the coordinator, in this case Kirby Wilson, have more responsibilities than a typical running back coach has? -- Eric A., Decatur, Georgia

Wilson brings a load of experience to his position and will be tasked with more than a typical running backs coach. On top of working closely with and developing the team's running backs, Wilson will work with Jackson and Pep Hamilton to develop the offensive game plan when it pertains to the team's run calls and schemes.

Why would the Browns take a QB at 2 when you can take a good backup for RGIII at 32 like Dak Prescott or Connor Cook? -- Jimmy H., New Lexington

Griffin hasn't been guaranteed anything when it comes to the starting quarterback job. If he's the starter for the season opener, it will be because he earned it and beat out the other players competing at the position. Griffin has acknowledged the possibility Cleveland could take a quarterback early in the draft and doesn't seem daunted by it.

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