Do not mortgage the future
Is there any question who the Browns should draft with their first pick tonight (Thursday)? If you’ve been following closely, the answer should be obvious. If the first word of your answer is not Trent, you have not been paying attention.
The Browns need an offense, which passed away midway through last season. To resuscitate it requires wise and adroit moves tonight by Tom Heckert Jr. and Mike Holmgren.
If drafting Trent Richardson means swapping places with the Minnesota Vikings, so be it. Unless, that is, the Vikings demand what amounts to a king’s ransom for the luxury of taking the Alabama running back.
If Minnesota General Manager Rick Spielman is reasonable and asks for the Browns’ second-round pick in return, that’s doable. Anything more, especially if it involves next season’s early draft picks, is treading in dangerous territory.
When I say smart, I mean think of the future, as well as the present ,before making any decisions. The Cleveland brain trust must say “no” emphatically to any deals with 2013 in mind.
Richardson would be a wonderful addition to this team, but not at a heavy cost that threatens the future. Heckert has to make certain Spielman understands that high draft picks next season are off limits.
Fans will understand if Heckert stands his ground and limits what he’ll give up to move up just one notch tonight. The general manager maintains that the draft is the lifeblood of the franchise. He should keep telling himself that when he and Spielman talk. And they will talk.
The Browns are not that desperate where they must mortgage the future for just one player. Heckert worked too hard to be in a position to get three of the top 37 players in this year’s lottery.
Maybe the Browns will get lucky (for once) and get their man without having to move, or at least not surrendering too much. Maybe all this talk leading up to the draft has been just that – all talk.
No doubt Heckert and Holmgren have plans A, B, C, D and E in place in the event something unusual comes up. But with only 10 minutes to make a decision, you’d be surprised how quickly 600 seconds tick off.
If they’re smart, they’ll have everything buttoned down by the time NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell puts the Indianapolis Colts on the clock. And with quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin Eye Eye Eye certainties to go 1-2, the Vikings will be called on quicker than normal.
The Colts and Washington Redskins are not going to take the full 10 minutes to make their picks. They removed the mystery from that little scenario a long time ago.
Just about everyone who follows the draft closely acknowledges Richardson is the obvious choice for the Browns. He is far and away the best running back to come along in at least five years. The Browns need to catch a break in order to get him to the lakefront.
Yes, Justin Blackmon would be a nice pick. And Matt Kalil would be a better pick. But not if Richardson is still available. He needs to be there when Goodell intones, “The Cleveland Browns are on the clock.”
It’s time the pro football gods (can’t believe I’m writing this) turn toward the Cleveland Browns and smile. If any fans in the NFL deserve to be rewarded for their zeal, their loyalty, their stubbornness of refusing to give up on this franchise, it’s those who reside in Browns Nation.
Will that be the case? We’ll find out in just a few hours.