2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Bold trade last year has Browns primed for draft

By TOM WITHERS - AP Sports Writer
    2012-04-23 17:46

CLEVELAND (AP) - Browns general manager Tom Heckert passed up on one of the top playmakers in last year's NFL draft.

He can't afford to be so choosy this year.

Cleveland needs offensive help.

Desperate to improve a unit that scored just 218 points - one more than the 1999 expansion Browns - last season, Heckert has five of the top 100 picks (Nos. 4, 22, 37, 67 and 100) this year and it's likely he'll use at least three of them on offensive players - and maybe even a quarterback like Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden.

``Everyone knows it, it's not a secret,'' Heckert said. ``We need guys that can score points. Hopefully, we can add to that.''

Heckert gambled last year, trading out of the No. 6 overall pick in the first round by making a deal with Atlanta. He acquired the Falcons' top two picks in 2011 and a first- (No. 22) and fourth-round round pick (No. 118) in this year's draft, which begins Thursday night.

Heckert could have taken Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones, but chose to drop before making another trade with Kansas City and selecting defensive tackle Phil Taylor with the No. 21 pick. The Browns wound up using the Falcons' picks on wide receiver Greg Little and fullback Owen Marecic.

Looking back, Heckert has no regrets about the bold move, one that received its share of criticism but has a chance to provide a handsome payoff.

``I do think it was the right thing for our football team,'' said Heckert, who will be armed with a league-high 13 selections, four of them compensatory picks he can't trade. ``The guys we drafted last year turned out to be pretty good players, which helps that. If they weren't and everybody assumes we would have taken Julio Jones and that would have been the guy if we stayed, and I am not going to say `yes or no' on that.

``This year, we hope to get some more good players.''

The Browns need offensive difference makers to support shaky incumbent quarterback Colt McCoy.

Alabama's Trent Richardson could be one.

Although running backs have been devalued in recent years, Richardson is the class of the 2012 class.

A punishing, physical inside runner who can also pop outside for a long gain, Richardson rushed for 1,679 yards and scored 21 touchdowns while helping the Crimson Tide roll to a national title last season. He would make an immediate impact on Cleveland's offense and improve a rushing attack that sputtered last season when Peyton Hillis couldn't stay healthy or drama-free.

Richardson appears to be a safe pick for the Browns, who can't afford to overreach on a player or take any unnecessary risks.

Richardson's pass-catching ability - he had 29 receptions for 338 yards last season - is another plus for Cleveland as the Browns will be in their second season in a West Coast offensive system that utilizes short swing passes to the backs. With the ball in his hands and in space, Richardson can be a handful for any linebacker or defensive back to bring down.

Heckert won't hesitate to take a back as high as No. 4. He's shown a willingness to take chances at the position in the past, trading two second rounders and a third rounder in 2010 to move up in round two and select Montario Hardesty, whose NFL career has been slowed by knee injuries. Cleveland's other viable back is Brandon Jackson, a free agent who missed all of 2011 with a foot injury.

Running back may not be a top priority for the Browns, but passing on a player as talented as Richardson could haunt them.

``This draft is not about the fourth pick, it's about the draft,'' Heckert said. ``Montario, we do think he is going to be a lot better this year. We think Brandon Jackson is going to be good. All that stuff plays in to it, but needless to say, you are talking about a really good player.''

Same goes for Justin Blackmon, regarded as the top wide receiver. The Browns' lack of a No. 1 receiver - Little led the club with 61 catches but 12 drops as a rookie - combined with McCoy's questionable arm strength allowed defenses to stack the line of scrimmage and stuff Cleveland's ground game.

Blackmon isn't a burner, but the Browns could find one at No. 22 in either Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill or Baylor Kendall Wright, who caught 108 of Robert Griffin III's passes last year.

Another intriguing possibility is for Heckert, a renowned draft-day wheeler and dealer, to bundle picks and move up to select Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd, who some experts believe is better than Blackmon and is expected to go in the Top 10.

A Richardson-Floyd tandem would be ideal, but whose going to get them the ball?

McCoy's stock was already plummeting before the Browns tried and failed to trade for a shot at Griffin. Heckert tried to offset the club's apparent dissatisfaction in McCoy during a news conference last week, saying ``We like Colt'' three times while answering one question.

There's no doubt the Browns will take a QB. What's not yet clear is if it will be one to compete with McCoy for the starter's job this year or down the road.

Weeden, the 28-year-old former minor league baseball player, will likely be available at No. 22, and it's possible he'll still be around at No. 37, assuming the Browns stay put.

But based on last year, Heckert may not sit still. If there's a player he covets, he has the means to put the Browns in a more favorable position.

``We do have ammunition, which is nice,'' he said. ``If there is somebody we don't think is going to get there we can move up and get them. That's always a plus when you have extra picks.''

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Pierre ThomasOct 30 07:22p

New Orleans Saints RBs Khiry Robinson (forearm) and Pierre Thomas (shoulder) are both inactive in Week 9 against the Carolina Panthers Thursday, Oct. 30.

David HawthorneOct 30 07:12p

The New Orleans Saints have declared LB Austin Johnson, LB David Hawthorne, C Jonathan Goodwin, RB Khiry Robinson, WR Nick Toon, RB Pierre Thomas, CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste inactive for Week 9.

Amini SilatoluOct 30 07:12p

The Carolina Panthers have declared OG Amini Silatolu, CB Bene Benwikere, OT Byron Bell, RB Fozzy Whittaker, WR Philly Brown, FS Thomas DeCoud, OG Trai Turner inactive for Week 9.

Brandon BrownerOct 30 04:32p

New England Patriots DT Alan Branch (non-injury related) and DE Chandler Jones (hip) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. S Nate Ebner (finger), DL Dominique Easley (knee), OL Cameron [ More ]

Brandon ThompsonOct 30 04:22p

Cincinnati Bengals CB Darqueze Dennard (hamstring), LB Rey Maualuga (hamstring) and OG Kevin Zeitler (calf) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. DT Domata Peko (toe) and OT Andre Smith [ More ]

Dwight FreeneyOct 30 04:22p

San Diego Chargers LB Manti Te'o (foot), CB Jason Verrett (shoulder) and S Jahleel Addae (concussion) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. LB Jeremiah Attaochu (hamstring) was limited. CB [ More ]

Donald BrownOct 30 04:12p

San Diego Chargers RB Donald Brown (concussion) practiced fully Thursday, Oct. 30.

Terrell SuggsOct 30 04:02p

Baltimore Ravens WR Michael Campanaro (thigh), CB Jimmy Smith (foot) and LB Terrell Suggs (neck) all did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. OG Marshal Yanda (knee) [ More ]

Brett KeiselOct 30 03:52p

Pittsburgh Steelers DE Brett Keisel (non-injury), SS Troy Polamalu (non-injury) and SS Ross Ventrone (hamstring) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. CB Ike Taylor (forearm) and FS [ More ]

Bruce CarterOct 30 03:22p

Dallas Cowboys LB Bruce Carter (finger) suffered a broken ring finger during practice Thursday, Oct. 30, but expects to play in Week 9. He will wear a splint on his finger for protection.

Cullen JenkinsOct 30 03:12p

New York Giants DT Cullen Jenkins (calf) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (back, hamstring) and P Steve Weatherford (ankle) were both limited in practice.

Brandon BoykinOct 30 03:12p

Philadelphia Eagles FS Nate Allen (hamstring) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. TE Brent Celek (back) and WR Brad Smith (groin) were both limited in practice. CB [ More ]

D'Qwell JacksonOct 30 03:12p

Indianapolis Colts LB D'Qwell Jackson (toe), DT Arthur Jones (ankle), LB Erik Walden (quadriceps) and LB Josh McNary (ankle) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. CB Vontae [ More ]

Rashad JenningsOct 30 02:42p

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (knee) said he is on track in terms of his rehab, but there is no timetable for his return. Jennings said he has [ More ]

Jordan CameronOct 30 02:32p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Anthony CollinsOct 30 02:32p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers OT Oniel Cousins is working at left tackle with the first-team offense during practice Thursday, Oct. 30, because OT Anthony Collins (foot) is sitting out practice.

Doug MartinOct 30 02:22p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin (ankle) is not participating in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Jason VerrettOct 30 01:52p

San Diego Chargers CB Jason Verrett (shoulder) is expected to miss two to three weeks with a torn labrum, according to two sources.

DeAngelo WilliamsOct 30 01:52p

Carolina Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (ankle) will start the team's Week 9 game against the New Orleans Saints Thursday, Oct. 30, according to head coach Ron Rivera.

R. Griffin IIIOct 30 01:42p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (ankle) received most of the work with the first-team offense during practice Thursday, Oct. 30, and will start in Week 9 if he [ More ]

Jaylen WatkinsOct 30 01:32p

Philadelphia Eagles SS Earl Wolff, FS Chris Maragos and CB Jaylen Watkins could be options to start at safety if FS Nate Allen (hamstring) is not able to play in Week 9.

Giovani BernardOct 30 01:22p

Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard (hip, shoulder) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Tony RomoOct 30 01:02p

Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo (back) didn't take part in the walk-through Thursday, Oct. 30, and will not practice with the team. However, head coach Jason Garrett remains hopeful [ More ]

Trent RichardsonOct 30 12:42p

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson (hamstring) is participating in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Reggie WayneOct 30 12:42p

Indianapolis Colts WR Reggie Wayne (elbow) is not participating in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Tony RomoOct 30 12:22p

Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo's (back) status is making head coach Jason Garrett feel optimistic about his availability for Week 9.

Dallas ThomasOct 30 11:43a

Miami Dolphins OG Dallas Thomas would be the most likely candidate to start at left guard if OG Daryn Colledge (illness) is not able to play in Week 9.

Rashad JenningsOct 30 11:12a

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (knee) has been ruled out for Week 9.

Phil BatesOct 30 10:52a

The Cleveland Browns signed free-agent WR Phil Bates (Seahawks) to the practice squad and released CB Marcus Cromartie Thursday, Oct. 30.

Charles SimsOct 30 10:13a

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Charles Sims could have 10 or more touches in Week 9, in the opinion of beat writer Greg Auman.

Ryan MathewsOct 30 09:52a

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (knee) is likely to sit out of the Week 9 game and return after the Week 10 bye.

Dennis PittaOct 30 09:52a

Baltimore Ravens TE Dennis Pitta (hip) may never be able to play football again after two surgeries on a fractured and dislocated hip in as many seasons.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group