Countdown to The Draft
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By Tony Grossi
Extra Points …
Bad rumblings: There’s a story circulating on the Internet, first Tweeted by @EvanSilva of Rotoworld and Profootballtalk.com, that the St. Louis Rams are shopping running back Steven Jackson.
The theory is this: Jackson will be 29 in July and is owed $7 million in each of the next two seasons. He has more than 9,000 career rushing yards and seven consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. Been a great player. But Jackson has the typical worn tread and leaking gaskets of a feature back reaching the equivalent of 100,000 miles on his NFL odometer.
This is, of course, the most recent and relevant example of why you want an NFL running back for his first five seasons, and not thereafter. Jackson averaged 4.3 yards a carry and 7.5 touchdowns in his first five seasons; 4.1 and 5 TDs his last three.
Thus, St. Louis’ desire to dump Jackson and replace him with a pair of fresh legs.
Which brings us to the Browns and how this development can throw a gigantic monkey wrench into their draft plans.
The draft leapfrog: Even if the Rams are not successful in unloading Jackson for a middle-round pick, the rumor affirms the belief that they are searching for his eventual successor.
It has been widely reported that new Rams coach Jeff Fisher fell in love with Alabama’s Trent Richardson sometime during the pre-draft scouting process. It is entirely possible for the Rams, at No. 6, to move up to No. 3 and steal Richardson before the Browns can pick him.
The Minnesota Vikings have practically taken out full-page ads to stir up interest in the No. 3 pick. Tampa Bay, at No. 5, would be interested in Richardson, too, but the Bucs don’t have the ammunition to move up. The Rams have the ammunition, by virtue of their mega-trade with Washington for the No. 2 overall pick.
The first dividend of that trade gave the Rams the Redskins’ second-round pick, No. 39 overall. So the Rams could justify giving up their own second-round choice at No. 33 to move up three spots and select Jackson’s replacement.
Darn Redskins: I don’t know what the Browns would do if they were stuck at No. 4 and Richardson was off the board. Louisiana State cornerback Morris Claiborne would figure to be the highest-rated player on GM Tom Heckert’s draft board.
Maybe Heckert could trade down some and salvage another pick while winding up with Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon. I just don’t see coming away with anybody but Richardson as a positive. To me, it’s the Browns’ worst nightmare.
And to think the Redskins would have contributed once again to this alternative plan.
They outbid the Browns for Robert Griffin III in the trade with the Rams. They outbid the Browns for free agent receivers Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan. And then to have the Rams outbid the Browns for Richardson – using the Redskins’ extra pick as collateral – would be the ultimate slap in the face.
Mark down the date: Dec. 16. Redskins at Cleveland Browns Stadium. That would be quite a game to watch.
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
Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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