EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the sixth part of a series previewing the NFL draft by position.
If you prefer a safe first-round pick for the Browns in the NFL draft, Dee Milliner of Alabama is your man.
First of all, it's usually safe to select a player from the best current program in college football. What the Crimson Tide did to Notre Dame in the national championship game was borderline criminal.
As one of the best defenders on another outstanding defense for Tide coach Nick Saban, Milliner looks like a prospect you can plug into the starting lineup and, barring injury, get a long streak of productive seasons.
Beyond the safety aspect of the pick, Milliner (6-0, 201) flat out makes sense for the Browns, who select sixth in the first round. As of now, coach Rob Chudzinski is looking at selecting from either Buster Skrine or recent acquisition Chris Owens, who had an up-and-down stay with the Atlanta Falcons. Skrine is a disaster waiting to happen when outside of the slot.
Pairing Milliner with Joe Haden would give the defense arguably one of the better young tandems in the NFL. Milliner isn't considered as good a prospect as Haden was three years ago, but he rates as a top-10 choice.
"You've always got to have confidence in the plays that you can make," Milliner said. "I feel like I'm the best defensive back in all of this. No offense to all the other defensive backs, but I just believe in what I can do and all the plays that I can make."
Milliner had 54 tackles, 24 passes defensed and two interceptions last season. He's a rangy defender with more-than-adequate size and great ballhawking skills. He could be better in run coverage and drops too many potential interceptions.
Milliner's name often comes up regarding the Browns. The team has given extra attention to him, making him believe he might be its choice at number six.
The concern with Milliner is the surgery he had March 12 to repair a torn labrum. There are no assurances he'll be 100 percent by the start of training camp in late July.
Milliner could be challenged by Xavier Rhodes of Florida State. Rhodes (6-2, 210) has moved up the charts and is viewed by many as a possible top-10 choice. Rhodes lacks Milliner's polish, but his size-speed combination is off the charts and perfect for aggressive press coverage.
The Browns' need for a field general at free safety almost parallels the need for help at cornerback. It's doubtful they'd take a safety at number six, but a trade down could put them in position to select Texas free safety Kenny Vaccaro.
Vaccaro (6-0, 214) led the Longhorns in tackles last season with 104. He broke up five passes and had two interceptions.
Vaccaro is a strong run defender capable of moving down into the box, but his primary value is as a centerfield-type defender. He takes too many chances and didn't make as many plays as would be ideal, but his potential is undeniable.
Comparisons have been made between Vaccaro and former Longhorn Earl Thomas, who's excelling with the Seattle Seahawks.
gI just try to mold my game around his passion for the game," Vaccaro said. "My freshman year I used to watch him run around the field, practicing full speed."
Matt Elam of Florida has a much better chance of long-term success than his older brother and former Browns safety Abram. Matt (5-10, 208) had 76 tackles last season for the Gators, breaking up five passes and intercepting four at strong safety.
Matt is solidly put together and stands up well against the run. His short stature could cause problems in coverage against tall tight ends.
There's no doubting the fact that Matt is confident in his physical style of play.
"I play very hard," he said. "I love to strike people. I feel that's what helps me stand out the most. I can cover the slot receivers. I can go in the box and tackle. I feel like I'm very versatile."