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Cleveland Browns' draft needs: Derek Carr could fit new offense

Roster weaknesses: Every team has them, and the draft is often the best way to address them. With the 2014 NFL Draft fast approaching, NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah will be taking an up-close look at the main areas of weakness -- and the prospects who could fix them -- for all 32 squads in the league. Be sure to catch "Path to the Draft" on NFL Network at 7 p.m. ET Monday through Friday for more in-depth analysis.

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This is a make-or-break offseason for the Cleveland Browns, a franchise that hasn't reached the playoffs in a dozen years. The Browns made several key additions in free agency -- headlined by Ben Tate, Donte Whitner, Andrew Hawkins and Karlos Dansby -- and now they possess three of the top 35 picks in the 2014 NFL Draft, and 10 selections overall. If they hit on these picks -- particularly the early ones -- I could see this team making a legitimate playoff push in the coming season. Seriously.

Ray Farmer is a first-time general manager, but with Cleveland's considerable draft capital, he doesn't have time to ease into the role. Farmer certainly has a lot on his plate, but nothing looms larger than the quarterback question: Are the Browns comfortable rolling with Brian Hoyer for the time being, or do they feel the need to immediately add a young prospect to build around? We'll find out in May.

1) Quarterback

The Browns have been looking for a quarterback since the franchise reboot in 1999. Hoyer is capable of handling the position in the short term -- don't forget that he sparked the offense last September before tearing his ACL -- but long-term questions remain.

In talks with personnel executives around the league, excitement about this quarterback class is dwindling by the day. I wouldn't be surprised if the Browns passed on taking a quarterback with the No. 4 overall pick and instead looked to address the position at No. 26 or No. 35. In that scenario, Derek Carr could be a fine option for the franchise. In addition to his outstanding production at Fresno State, Carr boasts quick feet and a live arm. He'd be a great fit in coordinator Kyle Shanahan's offense.

2) Wide receiver

Cleveland swiped Hawkins away from the Cincinnati Bengals -- giving the Browns an explosive slot receiver to pair with first-team All-Pro Josh Gordon -- but the offense still needs an upgrade at the WR2 slot. Sammy Watkins will be very tough to pass on if he's still around at No. 4. League evaluators had some concerns about Watkins' maturity early in his career at Clemson, but that's no longer an issue. He's the unanimous No. 1 receiver in this class, a complete player with size, strength, explosiveness and strong hands.

And if Cleveland doesn't snag Watkins? Not to fret: This is an extremely deep receiver class, and plenty of enticing options should be available for the Browns at Nos. 26 and 35.

3) Offensive line

Path to the Draft
Airing weekdays at 7 p.m. ET on NFL Network, "Path to the Draft" previews the 2014 NFL Draft by providing in-depth expert analysis of the top prospects and each team's needs.

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If the transition tag sticks to Alex Mack, the Browns will have two of the best offensive linemen in football at their respective positions: Mack at center and Joe Thomas at left tackle. Unfortunately, any of the remaining three spots on the O-line could stand to be upgraded.

Cleveland's No. 4 pick could land Auburn product Greg Robinson, who would be an ideal bookend opposite Thomas. The Browns obviously are looking to jump-start a stagnant ground game, given the Tate signing, so why not nab a true road grader to lead the way? Notre Dame's Zack Martin would make a lot of sense at No. 26 -- with his ability to play inside and outside -- but I'm not sure he'll still be available there.

4) Inside linebacker

After releasing D'Qwell Jackson, Cleveland spent big money to bring in the 32-year-old Dansby as a replacement. Still, the defense needs another inside linebacker for coach Mike Pettine's 3-4 defense.

If C.J. Mosley fell to 26, he'd be a slam-dunk fit. Mosley, who offers outstanding instincts and versatility, produced at a high level while winning a pair of national championships at Alabama. An option in the second round: Chris Borland. The Wisconsin product lacks ideal size, but he makes up for it with toughness, quickness and football savvy.

Projections

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So what will the Browns do with their two first-round picks (Nos. 4 and 26 overall)? Here's what NFL Media's analysts see happening according to their mock draft projections (click here for Mock Draft Central):

Daniel Jeremiah: Sammy Watkins, Derek Carr
Bucky Brooks: Sammy Watkins, Carlos Hyde
Charles Davis: Teddy Bridgewater, Xavier Su'a-Filo
Matt Smith: Khalil Mack, Derek Carr
Chase Goodbread: Khalil Mack, Derek Carr

Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.

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