Wednesday, April 25, 2012

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.


  1. If Cleveland tosses in a second round pick to get
    Richardson, how does that affect drafting a quality
    right tackle? I'm more inclined to take Kalil and
    fix the offensive line once and for all.

    Question: how many times in the NFL does the
    team with the best offensive line win the game?
    I'll bet more often than not.


  2. Hi Richard,

    That depends on whether the Browns believe right tackle is a critical enough position to draft with their second first-round pick. I like Kalil at 4, too, because there's a dropoff at the position after him.

    Can't answer your second question, but teams with strong offensive lines generally are very good. I come from the school that believes you build a team from the inside out. That's on both sides of the ball.

    And thanx for signing.

  3. we don't need another LT's senseless to waste a high pick on a RT...get a playmaker and get Rt later and call it a day!

  4. It's not senseless if you turn that LT into an RT.Bookend tackle like Thomas and Kalil do not come along often. If Richardson is gone, Kalil makes the most sense because the Browns would now have a foundation along the offense line from which to build other components.

    And the Browns need a lot more than a playmaker and an RT. A whole lot more. This is a team bereft of major talent.

  5. My heart tells me Richardson, especially after thinking back to how well McCoy played during his rookie season, ie., vs. Pats/Saints/Squealers/Jets, with a running game, but my heart tells me Kalil. Can't win without the big uglies in the trenches

  6. Marc,

    My heart says the same thing. You still have time to change your mind based on that.

    It's true McCoy was a better quarterback in 2010 with a running game to take the heat off him. Let's hope Holmgren and Heckert see it the same way.

    And I agree that games are mostly won or lost in the trenches. If Richardson is gone, taking Kalil is the next best thing. In my opinion, of course.

    That being the case, however, I think H&H will go with Claiborne if Richardson is off the board. Sure hope I'm wrong.