The Cleveland Browns have quite a few needs going into this offseason, but they already made one of the biggest moves of the offseason so far by extending inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson for a few more years, solidifying that position and the leadership of their defense.
Now, for the past week or so, the Browns’ focus has been on building through the draft, specifically scouting the new group of guys that will be entering the NFL at the annual scouting combine.
For a while now, everyone has been saying the Browns are the front-runners to land Baylor’s Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, and for good reason. Cleveland has a need at quarterback, and they have two first round picks with which they could dangle in a trade, potentially.
The St. Louis Rams have let it be known that they are posturing to deal the pick, likely sometime shortly after the new league year begins on March 13th. They are reportedly seeking a similar deal to what the Chargers got for Eli Manning back in 2004, which included two first round picks.
From what I’ve been hearing, the Browns are not very high on trading both of their first round picks this year to move up just two spots to take RG3, which makes a lot of sense to me. The idea has been floated around that the Washington Redskins are more likely to move up because of the relationship of the front offices between the Redskins and Rams.
If the Browns are unable to make a deal to move up and get RG3, I still think they can have a really effective draft. Here’s my latest first round projection for Cleveland:
1. First Round, 4th overall: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
Not too many people will like the idea of taking a running back this early in the first round, but sometimes you just can’t ignore a prospect. Richardson is one of those guys, a player who a lot of people are saying is the best tailback to come out since Adrian Peterson or Darren McFadden.
Anything your team needs, Richardson can do, and he can do it well. He is built like a bowling ball, always runs hard, has great speed, is an effective receiver and blocker on third down, and he is a hard worker and high character guy off the field. He is every coaches dream, essentially.
The Browns likely won’t be retaining Peyton Hillis unless he takes somewhat of a discount to stay, which they would prefer, but if he winds up leaving Richardson could be a more than effective replacement. A future star in this league, perhaps.
2. First Round, 22nd overall: Brock Osweiler, QB, Arizona State
The writing is clearly on the wall for Colt McCoy. I don’t think that the Browns view him as a franchise quarterback, though I wish they did. I really like McCoy and think he needs to be given some targets before Cleveland demotes him, builds their team better, and lets some other QB take the credit.
Nevertheless, I think the Browns are in the market for a quarterback, and if there’s a guy they view as an eventual starter, they won’t hesitate to take him in the first round. In this case, they get the super-athletic former basketball player, Arizona State’s Brock Osweiler.
Osweiler is really raw and only has one year of starting experience under his belt, but he is a very gifted guy who is probably going to ‘wow’ people at his pro day. He has a very strong arm, good athleticism, and a lot of natural instincts and ability, a good feel for the game.
In the later portion of the first round, I think he would be a good fit and good value for the Browns, who did something similar in 2007 with two first round picks when they took Joe Thomas and Brady Quinn.
Obviously, a lot could change between now and the draft, but as of the end of the scouting combine, this is the first round combination I like for the Browns if they are unable to trade up and get Robert Griffin III, which may happen believe it or not.