By Tony Grossi
This edition of Hey Tony shows how my emailers are divided on the issue of taking a quarterback in the first round. There are reasonable arguments both ways. On a bookkeeping matter, send questions to email@example.com. Please remember that only questions with a name and city will be answered.
Hey Tony: Glad you are back covering the Browns! In your opinion, what’s the probability of the Browns drafting Trent Richardson (at 4) and Michael Floyd or Kendall Wright (at 22), if available? Then a right tackle with their second round pick?
-- Martin P., San Diego, CA
Hey Martin: Wright might not last till No. 22, but if he does, I would think your scenario has a good chance of happening.
Browns G Jason Pinkston
Hey, Tony: Just curious – if the Browns had a guard they liked a lot more than a tackle at 22 or 37, does either Jason Pinkston or Shawn Lauvao have the ability to move to right tackle? Or do the Browns need to draft a tackle no matter what?
-- Stan Himes, West Des Moines, Iowa
Hey Stan: Pinkston and Lauvao are entrenched at the guard positions. The Browns need to draft a pure right tackle.
Hey Tony: A lot of the earlier mock drafts had the Bengals taking Trent Richardson somewhere along the line. With two 1st round picks, what are the chances they leapfrog the Browns and take him at #3? What would the Browns' response be should that scenario play out?
-- Brian in Avon
Hey Brian: The Bengals don’t trade up very often. I think the chances are slim to none. If somebody did take Richardson at No. 3, I think the Browns would try to trade down and ultimately target Justin Blackmon.
Hey Tony: It's not fair that the Browns/fans will be penalized for what the Saints did in "Bounty Gate". Scott Fujita, I assume, will miss games and the Browns will pay the price. The Browns don't need another hole to fill. It will be interesting to see if other teams are having to scramble to replace players due to suspensions. I have not seen anything mentioned about the fall out to innocent teams/fans. A Saints draft choice should go to the Browns as part compensation. Then again, it happens all the time in the college sports (Example, Ohio State and innocent players penalized bowl bids). What do you think?
-- Dale, Mentor, OH
Hey Dale: I’m still not sure that Fujita will miss games because of his involvement. He has been repentant and turned around his attitude by promoting player safety as a member of the players union executive board. Fujita has admitted to paying money to teammates for making big plays, but denies ever promoting teammates to injure opponents. I’m thinking Fujita gets fined, at worst.
Hey Tony: There is so much talk about the importance of finding that "franchise quarterback" and how a team is not going anywhere until they have him. It is also becoming apparent the premium on quarterbacks gets higher each year in the draft. In other words, you probably are not going to get a quarterback without "overpaying". With that said, I can't believe the common opinion that taking Ryan Tannehill with the #4 pick is too high (especially considering it took 3 first round picks and a 2nd to draft the quarterback above him). This may be the best opportunity the Browns will have for years to grab a potential franchise quarterback. If they take Tannehill, and don't even play him for two years, he would be ready about the same time, with this draft and next, that the Browns will be ready to compete. I can't see a better scenario for the Browns to be a true contender two years from now. Another scenario may be watching Tannehill in the playoffs with a different team in 2014 while the Browns are still looking for that "franchise quarterback" They Browns say they are going to take a quarterback at some point in the draft. Why not go for the best one available?
-- Joe Casteel, Lorain, OH
Hey Joe: It’s a tough call for me, because I have long advocated doing anything to get a franchise quarterback. I’m just not certain Tannehill qualifies. He might be the third best at the position in this draft, but that doesn’t guarantee future stardom. Taking Tannehill robs you of getting the best offensive playmaker at running back or wide receiver. I would feel better about taking Tannehill at No. 4 if the Browns 1.) had drafted Julio Jones the year before, and 2.) had re-signed Peyton Hillis. That way they would have some weapons for Tannehill to use right away.
Ohio WR Lavon Brazill
Hey Tony: Do you think Lavon Brazill out of Ohio University is on the Browns' radar at all? He would be a great late round pick up. Good hands, speed, and overall route ability. He was OU's most viable receiver and opposing defenses usually put their best corner on him with help. He still managed 72 catches, 1,150 yards, and 11 touchdowns.
-- Steven, North Canton
Hey Steven: Why not? Few heard of Antonio Brown of Central Michigan three years ago and now he’s a key player in the Steelers’ offense. Brazill has similar physical dimensions. Somebody will give him a shot. Why not the Browns?
Hey Tony: Why is everyone so high on Andy Dalton and so low on Colt McCoy when their numbers are so similar? Not to mention, Dalton has A.J. Green to throw to.
-- Alan, Avoca, PA
Hey Alan: Don’t look at the numbers. Look at how they play. I saw Dalton twice last year and was impressed with his pocket presence, his accuracy and, to some degree, his arm strength. I don’t think a quarterback can win consistently if he is always moving out of the pocket. He reduces the field in half when he does that. I think McCoy leaves the pocket too soon and wasn’t nearly as accurate as Dalton on the short horizontal throws so important in the West Coast offense. Arm strength is close, but it also goes to Dalton, in my opinion. And by that I don’t mean the distance each can throw. I mean how forceful the ball arrives on the difficult throws.
Hey Tony: Last week Michael Spitale almost asked what I've been thinking - let me rework his question. We could take Ryan Tannehill in this draft - maybe we would have to sit him for a year because he's raw, but everyone seems to like him apart from that. Colt starts this year. Or, we don't take a QB early this draft. Colt starts this year. Then, next draft, the cost of trading up for a good QB is three times - and maybe more - what Tannehill costs. Forget the value - can you live with the cost? Is that worth getting an impact player this year? What's the downside? In the meantime, maybe Colt turns out to be the man after all? That's a worst case scenario I can live with. Is it just me, or do you sense that the people who breathed a sigh of relief at "missing out" on the RG3 megadeal this year are sleepwalking into the same situation next year?
-- John, Crawley (that'll be the one in England, by the way).
Hey John: Again, I agree the call on Tannehill is a tough one. I look at it this way: If he isn’t a franchise quarterback and is not as good as McCoy or even just marginally better, you still need a running back and receiver. I would rather use that high pick on an instant producer at either of those positions. Plus, I’ve accepted the conclusion that McCoy deserves a second year with an upgraded cast, a normal offseason and an experienced offensive coordinator. But if I evaluated Tannehill as “the guy,” I wouldn’t hesitate in taking him. And I agree with you that the cost of moving up for a franchise quarterback escalates every year.
Browns President Mike Holmgren
Hey Tony: Any truth to this rumor (of Mike Holmgren retiring after the draft)?
-- Ryan, Medina
Hey Ryan: I’ve looked into this rumor and have been told by a team source that there’s nothing to it. After being told that, I bounced the rumor off somebody who knows Holmgren and has a connection to the Browns. “I’ve heard it, too,” was the response. “Something about (Holmgren) going to CBS.” The person didn’t know if it was true or not.
Hey Tony: Let’s say the Browns are interested in Trent Richardson and Justin Blackmon. They say to the Rams will we take Blackmon and if Richardson is there at 6, then let’s trade Richardson and 2nd Rounder for Blackmon. Is this a possibility?
-- Mike Bertschinger, Parma Hts.
Hey Mike: The risk is that Tampa Bay would take Richardson at No. 5. So the Browns would end up with Blackmon instead of Richardson. By trying to be smart, they would wind up with a lesser-ranked offensive player. I would suggest this: Don’t fool around. Just take Richardson at No. 4.
Hey Tony: So glad to have you back in the driver's seat! I wanted to see if you agree with me that the top 3 picks should be # 4 Richardson, #22 best WR, #37 best right tackle. No trade down with # 4
-- Joe Maloney, Woodland CA
Hey Joe: I concur.
Hey Tony: Congratulations on the new job. Why is everyone saying the fourth pick in the draft is too high to take a running back like Trent Richardson? Given the Browns history of later round busts, don't you think they should take the surest bet?
-- Traves, Dayton
Hey Traves: All the conventional wisdom of past drafts should be thrown out the window. Times have changed. Because of the new CBA, which limits rookie contracts, the investment in a player taken No. 4 is not so prohibitive that you have to measure a player’s “shelf life,” etc. The bottom line is Richardson is the best offensive player available and fills a need. What else is there to over-evaluate?
Hey Tony: It appears the Browns interest in Brandon Weeden is growing. I honestly think he could be a valuable pick up in the 3rd or 4th round but I'm starting to see mock drafts were the Browns select him with the 22nd or 37th pick. How can the Browns justify selecting a 28 year old quarterback that early in the draft? By the time he has a understanding of the "west coast offense" and the pro game he could be 30! People rarely mention he took the majority of snaps from the shot-gun formation which could make the learning curve that much longer.
-- Jack, Kent
Hey Jack: I like Weeden, but he is a luxury the Browns cannot afford. The same thing applies as my previous answer about Tannehill: if they had a feature back and a No. 1 wideout already in place, I would not be opposed to taking Weeden at No. 22. But not now.
Hey Tony: One of the Browns’ most pressing needs is and has been offensive right tackle. Holmgren/Heckert are in year 3 and are in sore need to show significant offensive improvement (most 'great' programs have shown progress by year 2). They need 2 'NFL starter' WRs, a RT, and a QB - and arguably a RB. Granted, they seem to be sticking with Colt. They only have 3 'top' picks in this draft - and too many needs. I am shocked that they didn't aggressively pursue/sign Eric Winston in FA. He's young, accomplished, and seemingly injury-free. He signed a very reasonable contract with K.C. - in short it would have nicely saved the Browns a 1st/2nd round pick - but still given them a 1st round talent at a position of sore need. But further, why has this story received no attention by the Cleveland media? I'm figuring that there must be a good explanation. If not, it seems that these kinds of moves (or lack thereof) demonstrate the shortcomings (and potential limitations) of Holmgren/Heckert. All the great front offices in the past 20+ years showed obvious and significant signs of progress by this point in the program.
-- T. Bluth, the OC, CA
Hey T: I think Holmgren and Heckert have been dealt a fair share of criticism for ignoring vital needs in free agency. In fact, one of my pieces on ESPNCleveland.com dealt with how the Browns should pursue at least one marquee free agent per year – and I used Winston as an example. I agree the Browns are so far behind their rivals that they need to use all means of player transactions as necessary to catch up.
Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 44 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
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