Countdown to The Draft
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By Tony Grossi
By this time next week, the draft will have come and gone. Therefore, we will not be answering any questions about the draft next week. All other subjects are welcome. We’ll review how the Browns did in the draft the following week. Please remember to include a city and a name for your question to be used.
Hey Tony: I live in Charlotte. Lots of talk about Panthers considering trading down from #9. If Blackmon slips, should the Browns try and move up from #22 to grab him? I would give up a 2nd for a Richardson/Blackmon combination.
Pat, Charlotte, NC
Hey Pat: It might be a consideration, but the Browns sound intent on acquiring three starters with their first three draft picks. Giving up a potential starter for Blackmon doesn’t seem to be in the cards.
Hey Tony: I haven't heard anybody really talk about this yet, but what if the Browns shop the #4 to the Panthers for their #9 and Jonathan Stewart? They need a shutdown corner like Morris Claiborne and Stewart is in his prime and would fit great in the Browns WCO. Cleveland would probably also have to give up a 4th or 5th rounder, but I don't see that being a problem. Also, I think Michael Floyd would still be there at #9 and would be a great pick up for the Browns. Am I crazy for thinking this could work?
-- Alex H., Columbus, OH
Hey Alex: One problem: The Panthers say they don’t want to trade Stewart.
Hey Tony: I have noticed a pattern within the division as to finding a franchise quarterback. In 2002 The Steelers won the division at 10-5. In 2003 they had an off year and went 6-10, which allowed them to draft Ben Roethlisberger, and then have a successful run. In 2006 the Ravens won the division at 13-3 and followed with a 5-11 record the following year which allowed them to draft Joe Flacco. The Bangles did the same rollercoaster in 2009 and 2010. Has this happened for other teams and should the Browns try to follow this pattern of success by establishing a strong team, then getting a franchise quarterback?
-- BIll J. from Akron
Hey Bill: Here’s the pattern I would follow: If you don’t have a franchise quarterback on your team, then go get one.
Hey Tony: Great having you back; your seasoned experiences with this franchise is glaring in your candid analysis and insight of the current administration. Regarding your post on 4.18.12 entitled 'Thoughts on The Browns 2012 Schedule’ … would you say that your skeptical comments fairly reflect this brass' inability to embrace a 'win-now' attitude? 2012 opponents like Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Oakland, Washington & Denver are perfect examples of teams who have a clear talent rebuild plan to win as many games as possible, as soon as possible; while this franchise continues to pursue a 'long-term plan' that lacks the talent laden pieces to even compete (let alone win) in the brutal AFC North. Love to hear your thoughts.
-- Dan, New York City
Hey Dan: I think the days of the “five-year plan” in the NFL are gone. I wouldn’t “sell out” to win now, but there should be more urgency to do so. Especially with a franchise whose fan base is suffering too many losing seasons in a row.
Browns WR Carlton Mitchell
Hey Tony: What's the chance Carlton Mitchell makes it as a starter at wide receiver this year? I thought he was a guy with great speed. He's had two seasons to get acclimated to the NFL and if he does not show that he has the right stuff during preseason, do you expect him to be released by the Browns? I am certain that receivers will be added to the roster in the draft.
-- Bill Fisher, Campbell
Hey Bill: The Browns have always lauded Mitchell’s size and speed, but he has not done much on the field. A broken hand in training camp really set him back last year. I would think this is it for him – either he shows what he has in camp, or he may be cut.
Hey Tony: All this talk of Trent Richardson is because they let Peyton Hillis, a 1,200- yard, 10-touchdown, 60-plus catch guy walk for virtually nothing, and Montario Hardesty sucks. Leave it to the Browns to create a need at position where there was none and leave it to the Cleveland media to ignore it, especially you.
-- Mike, Dover
Hey Mike: Richardson’s “ceiling” is much higher than Hillis’. If the Browns draft him – and he stays healthy – no one will be pining for Hillis by the end of the year. And I’m sure you will feed me those words if Richardson flops.
Hey Tony: Do not know whether this is a Hey Tony question but what and where is this job description for a NFL quarterback? I have read your articles forever and I do not recall you citing that before. I do not think Colt has any moral obligation to talk to a media (particularly WKNR) that generally does nothing but pick at him. Just wondering if he really has a contractual or legal obligation to do so. If he does, why hasn't someone in the media tried to enforce such an obligation?
-- Randy, Mayfield Village
Hey Randy: I was speaking metaphorically when I said (wrote) that facing the media is in the job description for an NFL quarterback. Of course there is no contractual obligation to appear in front of the media in the offseason (there is in the regular season.) But as former Browns quarterback Gary Danielson recently said to me, playing the position of quarterback is a 10-month job. The QB is the leader of the team – when the season is on and not on. He has to stand up and be accountable for everything. In McCoy’s case, there is much to answer to. His unwillingness to do so is not a good sign of leadership.
Hey Tony: Two quick thoughts: Enough with how tough our schedule is. We can't help that we are in a division that produces three playoff teams. If each team threw out their divisional opponents and only averaged the out of division games, I wonder where we would stand. I guess we need to win some division games. Secondly, don't you think we would get a little more effort from ownership if the owner’s last name was included each time we spoke or wrote about them, i.e. the Dallas Cowboy Jones, the Washington Redskin Snyders or the Cleveland Brown Lerners. If they kept seeing their names at the bottom of the standings, we might get a little more effort from all of them.
-- Mike, Copley
Hey Mike: I think everyone would agree that the Browns’ schedule outside their division is difficult. But a subscribe to the coaching dictim, “It’s not who you play, it’s when you play them.” In other words, catching teams at the right or wrong times can mean a lot. As for your second idea, I would say, um, no thanks.
Hey Tony: It seems that many in the media and fans think that the Browns need an elite QB to be successful. I am not so certain that this "herd mentality" makes sense. The Texans and 49ers were both tremendous last year with anything but elite quarterback play or true number one receiver (Andre Johnson of the Texans only caught 33 passes last year). The 49ers were an overtime field goal from the Super Bowl, and it can be argued that if the Texans had just an average quarterback they would have at least played in the conference title game. Those teams were built around great defenses and power running games. Perhaps that should be the Brown's focus in rebuilding instead of finding an elite QB. Despite Joe Flacco's view of himself, the Ravens have continued to win this way as well. As for the two best QBs last year, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, neither made it to the NFL's final four. Your thoughts?
-- Ronnie, Studio City, CA.
Hey Ronnie: Of course, you can still win in the NFL by playing fantastic defense and running the ball. But ultimately, to get to the Super Bowl and win it, you may need that one throw and catch under pressure in the playoffs. Your examples prove my point. The 49er got those plays in their division playoff win over the Saints (Brees). But they were missing against the Giants in the NFC Championship. One more first down conversion by QB Alex Smith might have done it. The Texans may well have advanced with starting quarterback Matt Schaub available, but he was hurt and they were down to rookie T.J. Yates. In the Super Bowl, Eli Manning made the plays at the end and Tom Brady did not. Manning demonstrated again that, more times than not, quarterbacks win the Big Game – they make the pressure throw at the pressure time.
Hey Tony: Happy for you to have landed on ESPN, that’s great. Thought you got a raw deal but what else is new. Question: How do you think you’ll be received at Berea and the stadium? Will their personal feelings let them refuse to call on you to answer questions? Or will the ESPN banner carry enough weight that they can’t do that.
-- Billy Roberts, Niles
Hey Billy: This is not an issue whatsoever.
Hey Tony: Glad to see you back sharing your insight. Can you settle a disagree between myself and Kevin in Chicago? Would you rather have the Jets leadership of Woody Johnson, Mike Tannenbaum and Rex Ryan or the Browns leadership of Lerner, Holmgren and Shurmur? If wins and losses are not the best judge of the direction a franchise is headed, then what is?
-- Matt, Lakewood
Hey Matt: Bottom line is wins and losses, yes.
Hey Tony: Welcome back! You were missed. Now that you are here, there is no reason for me to ever read that other publication again. Anyway, amidst all of the draft stuff, I would like to touch on another subject. I know your stance and your vote on it, but what is the deal with Art Modell and the HOF? What did he ever do to even be nominated? He never won a Super Bowl (not in Cleveland anyway), fired a legendary coach, forced one of the best players ever into early retirement, ran the franchise into the ground financially and move a historic franchise to another city. What positives did he ever do? I’m sure I have a biased opinion, but I don't see anything good about him.
-- Brad in Austin, TX
Hey Brad: The crux of my argument against Modell’s inclusion in the Hall of Fame was that whatever good he did – and he did a lot of good – it was overturned by his move of the football team to Baltimore.
Hey Tony: From what I've heard, Ryan Tannehill struggled against better teams and does not really have a come from behind win on his record. Justin Blackmon has some character issues and though he's a good WR I wouldn't really call him elite. It seems those are the 2 players Heckert and Holmgren are most interested in. Are they overlooking these things or do they feel those things aren't important? Do you know how they really view these players? It seems to me Trent Richarson is a can't miss player and who the Browns should go for. BTW, I want to go on record as favoring the white home jersey because it's always seemed like the Browns won more wearing white (in the good old days).
-- Glenn Studevant, Tucson, AZ
Hey Glenn: I believe the Browns will reach the conclusion that Richardson is the best pick for them.
Hey Tony: Which coach gets more wins in 2012 -- Pat Shurmur (16 games) or Joe Vitt (10 games)?
-- Mike K, Highland Heights
Hey Mike: I’ll answer this after the draft, training camp and preseason.
Hey Tony: Good to see you in this forum again. If Heckert can pull off a double move in the first round (scenario’s endless) by trading down and still getting Richardson, Claiborne, Blackmon or Kalil and then use that rd2 pick they would ask for to trade back up from #22 he would maximize the value of sitting at the #4 and #22 picks. Hopefully you pick up two studs that start right away and pay dividends for a long time. What do you think?
-- John, Tampa
Hey John: I believe the Browns are more inclined to use all three picks with the intent of acquiring three starters.
Hey Tony: Why don't we do T Rich at 4, a WR at 22 and OL at 37? Why do we think we need to pick up Brandon Weeden at 37? Why not take Matt Barkley in next year’s draft and see what Colt McCoy can do with some weapons around him before totally giving up on him?
-- Jason L. Williams, SK1, U. S. Coast Guard, Mt. Clemens, MI
Hey Jason: The debate on taking Weeden is continuing behind closed doors in Berea. I believe two of the three decision-makers favor passing on him and one might feel the other way. I see them taking Weeden only with the 37th pick. I don’t believe they would pick him earlier.
WR Kendall Wright
Hey Tony: What would it cost the brown to move in front of the Chicago Bears in the first round? Would #22 and a 3rd rounder move us up to #18? If that’s what it takes to get Kendall Wright from Baylor, I am all for it!
-- Milli, Orrville
Hey Milli: The price to moving up from 22 to 18 would be a third-round pick. That’s a potential starting player. I’m not sure I’d give that up for Wright.
Hey Tony: There’s much talk about Tom Heckert loving Morris Claiborne, but we need an elite runner like Trent Richardson. The second-best corner on most boards is Dre Kirkpatrick and quite a few mock drafts have him falling near or after our pick at 22. Why is there no discussion of us taking Richardson and then getting the second-best talent at corner in Kirkpatrick with our second pick? This way fans won’t be forced to watch a dreadful offense again and the Browns would still be strengthening the defense.
-- Alex, Chicago
Hey Alex: Actually, the No. 2-ranked cornerback is Stephon Gilmore of South Carolina and he’ll be taken long before the Browns’ spot at No. 22. I think the Browns upgrade their offense with their top three selections.
Hey Tony: Can Matt Kalil play right tackle? If not, the Browns should use an unbalanced line with Kalil next to Joe Thomas on the left side. If Kalil is there at four, and he will be, do the Browns take him?
-- Harry, Cleveland
Hey Harry: I don’t think the Browns will take Kalil at No. 4. I don’t think the Browns have the luxury of investing another first-round choice on their offensive line.
Hey Tony: Do you think there’s too much time between the end of the season and the draft? As the weeks drag on, teams have to be on analysis overload, talking themselves into and out of and back into players over and over again without a single new down of football being played.
-- Stan, West Des Moines, Iowa
Hey Stan: From time to time, there has been sentiment about moving the draft up from April to March. But nothing ever comes of it. Coaches and GMs seem to prefer the long pre-draft season.
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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