Coming to an NFL team near you?
NFL Draft time means time for opinions, wish lists and projections.
Besides the top two picks on April 26 being quarterbacks you might have heard of, we don't really know a whole lot about which teams really covet certain prospects and how most teams truly rank their needs.
That doesn't stop us from guessing, of course.
Below are 10 players who figure to be in play for both the Browns and Bengals over the course of the three-day draft, depending on how those needs and projections play out. The players are listed in no particular order.
Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama — There are a lot of reasons Richardson seems to fit the Browns at No. 4 overall, and given the circumstances, it's not hard to argue he might be the Browns' best bet. The Bengals' need for a franchise running back is well documented, and if Richardson would slip out of the top five, the Bengals might consider using some of their draft pick assets to move up and take him. Recent history says the Bengals won't do that, but it's something they'll likely discuss and maybe even seriously consider.
Doug Martin, RB, Boise State — The Bengals have watched Martin closely throughout the draft process, need a running back and have seen Martin do everything at the college level they'd ask him to do in Jay Gruden's offense. The Browns need a running back, have to like how Martin can push the pile and might try to wait until Pick 37 to find their running back. The Bengals must decide if Pick 21 is too high, because it seems like Martin won't fall much past 40.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina — The case of Jeffery's supposedly rising and falling draft stock seems to be an example of seeing what you want to see — and maybe some teams leaking information and hoping he'll drop to them. Is he really too slow, does he carry too much baggage and has he already hit his physical peak? Or is he a physical freak, a big target with sure hands and a guy who produced at the college level in an offense that lacked consistency at quarterback? We won't know until April 26 (or 27) but Jeffery should go between picks 20-40, and both the Browns and Bengals need receivers.
Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama — His talent is obvious. His off-field issues and winding path to the NFL make him just the kind of guy the Bengals have taken before. And he plays maybe the Bengals' biggest position of need, making this an even more appealing potential match. Only interested teams who have dug into Jenkins' past know exactly how much his issues will hurt him, but he's a top-15 type of player who could be drafted anywhere from 14-44. If he's still there at No. 37, the Browns would have to take a long look.
Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama — He has elicited a wide range of opinions from those who evaluate prospects year round. An early entry to the draft who was projected to be a first-rounder, he had a legal dust up in January that ended up being quickly cleared, and now teams must decide which position and which type of defense is his best fit. He's big for a defensive back at nearly 6'2, 185, and he might be seen by some teams as a safety.
Shea McClellin, DE/LB, Boise State — McClellin is being mentioned in various circles as a fast-riser in this draft, the kind of prospect teams push up their draft boards as they get to know him better. Pass-rusher has become a skill (and coveted) position in today's NFL, and both the Browns and Bengals need to upgrade their pass rush and could use an injection of youth and athleticism at outside linebacker. We don't know where he'll fit, but plenty of teams are watching.
Courtney Upshaw, LB, Alabama — Upshaw is projected to be taken anywhere from 10-25 in various mock drafts. Both the Browns and Bengals seem to have more pressing needs, but Upshaw is the type of defender who can provide pass rush help and is physical enough to hold up in the AFC North. If he slips past the top 15, he's someone both teams will at least have to discuss.
George Iloka, S, Boise State — The Bengals like big safeties, have done their homework on Boise State prospects and might like Iloka — who's almost 6'4 and about 225 pounds — as an immediate contributor on special teams and a developmental prospect at safety. We don't know if the Browns think they can get another year out of Sheldon Brown at cornerback; either way, the secondary needs athleticism and depth.
Eric Page, WR/KR, Toledo — The Browns simply need playmakers at any position and could use Page as a slot receiver and the heir apparent to Joshua Cribbs in the return game. The Bengals have another small receiver from Toledo, Andrew Hawkins, and used him in the offensive package last year but could use Page to boost the return game and upgrade the overall speed of the receiving corps. Page is undersized and is almost assuredly a Saturday pick but he has a skill set that should allow him to make an impact in the NFL.
Isaiah Pead, RB, Cincinnati — Pead was a consistent producer through his college career, was MVP at the Senior Bowl and has been watched closely by all four AFC North teams. The Bengals should know him well, obviously, and the Columbus native's ability to accelerate and make people miss should intrigue the Browns if they address other positions early in the draft.