NFL Draft: Cleveland’s Tom Heckert Came to Play

Often criticized for a passive approach to team-building, the Cleveland Browns entered Thursday night’s NFL Draft with a plan in place. With a fan base seemingly relegated to a feeling of pre-draft disappointment, Tom Heckert and his staff would not let his players get away from him, even if the cost would wind up being a little more than originally expected.

With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hot after Alabama’s Trent Richardson, and Heckert not willing to gamble on the potential loss of a franchise running back, we became aware of the trade which would allow the Browns to move up to secure their guy. Richardson, clad in a light brown suit and a Brown tie — one which would later look pretty sharp with his orange and brown hat — caught wind of the trade live on the red carpet of Radio City Music Hall. As it was, the Browns offense received a considerable shot in the arm before the clock struck 8pm.

Knowing that their jobs were not done, the Browns front office then set their sites on the wide receiver position. Allegedly, their primary endeavor was to trade back into the teens to draft Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd, a player whom the Arizona Cardinals had pegged as their selection with the 13th pick. From there, the focus turned to Baylor’s Kendall Wright, their final first-round graded play-maker. A potential trade would be discussed, but nothing would be consummated. Wright was selected two picks ahead of the Browns who sat at No. 22.

Sensing that offensive linemen were falling and that the next tier of wide receivers would be available on Friday evening, the Browns — once again unwilling to gamble and lose out — opted to select the quarterback of their future in Brandon Weeden. Certainly, this pick may have been a lot earlier than many expected, but as Tom Heckert said, it simply wasn’t worth the risk.

“When you’re talking about a quarterback, we just didn’t think it was worth taking a risk,” Heckert said. “With a quarterback, we just wanted to make sure we got him and there were some teams that were interested behind us, so we decided to go ahead and get him. A couple guys got picked and it really wasn’t even an afterthought for us. As soon as a couple guys went, we knew we were going to take him and we really didn’t think about moving down.”

Weeden’s merits can be debated. He’s nearing 29-years of age, played in a spread offense and has been criticised for lack of experience against an NFL-level pass rush. Also rumored is the fact that the front office was told to address the quarterback position and to address it soon.

It’s rumored that the Browns had Weeden higher on their draft boards than Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill who would be drafted eighth-overall by the Miami Dolphins. Agreeing with the front office’s analysis of the quarterback, however, is different from any debate regarding where he was selected. With the second and third rounds waiting in the wings, and several players of interest still available, Heckert’s willingness to secure players rather than wish upon their availability should be commended. If anyone knows anything about poor luck when it comes to sport, it should be fans of the Cleveland Browns — wagering on such has proven to be fruitless many times over.

For months, thoughts were that the Browns would move down and merely take the best remaining player on their draft boards. Already having 13 selections at their disposal, the team was rumored to be looking for additional ones.

The free agency period came and went with the Browns having little to show. After all, re-signing players and adding lower-tier defensive linemen while other teams throw contracts around like rag dolls is far from the sexy, headline-making course of action.

But once New York City played host to dozens of prospects and the War Room seats in Berea, Ohio were fully accounted for, sitting on hands was no longer an option. As the Browns head into Friday night, two of their needs have been addressed. How the team attacks the others remains to be seen; do not count out more trades as the top end of the second round is shaping up to provide a ton of value. If anything became evident, however, it’s that Tom Heckert and Company came to play.

(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

  • Saurabhgup

    so your article is the landscape outside of the vacuum?  i guess this view ignores the fact that we have no right side to the line and Greg Little can’t catch the football.  So trade Hillis for Richardson and  McCoy for Weeden and are the Browns better now than yesterday?  That is the question not that H&H came to play. Did their plays make the team better.  I opine NO.  Clearly, your outside the “vacuum” view is an obvious yes.  
    …and if popular opinion in way of comments are indicative of anything, it at least shows the Fan Base on this page largely agrees with me.  So, your point is more indicative of Management and not the fan base, which squarely cuts against the purpose of a fan based blog…

    And another article that actually attempts to analyze the first round not just write a PR piece for H&H. 

  • LMK

    I don’t think you can say two of our needs were met… Weeden may just be the next player in our revolving door of quarterbacks

  • mgbode

    “Sensing that offensive linemen were falling and that the next tier of wide receivers would be available on Friday evening”

    if we end up with Cordy Glenn at #37 and Sanu or Marvin Jones in the 3rd, then I’ll just swap where we picked them in my mind and I’ll be much happier with this draft.

    if Glenn and J.Martin get drafted before our pick and we end up panicking with Mike Adams and then get stuck with a middling WR prospect, then I’ll be further upset.  Hopefully, things work out tonight.

  • mgbode

    that depends.  if Richardson truly is elite and so far ahead of the other RBs that it’s ridiculous, then it does matter.  if D. Martin or Wilson are close enough (or Lamar Miller), then we should have stood pat.

    what I find funny is the analysts saying how much better Richardson is compared to the other RBs, then killing us for drafting him while praising TB / NYG for drafting the lesser backs #prisco

  • mgbode

    why would Julio have won them extra games last year?

    A.  We wouldn’t have Little who put up better overall numbers than Julio (no, he is not as talented and Julio looks better – but that was in the prism of the Atlanta offense with Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Tony G and M.Turner)

    B. We wouldn’t have Phil Taylor.  Perhaps that defense struggles more than what helped keep us in games?  Schaefering starting DT anyone?  Or, do we panic and pick a different DT at Sheard’s spot and we don’t have Sheard.

    C. Maybe we don’t give up the 4th rounder because we don’t have as many picks high enough and Richardson lands in TB instead.

    #butterfly effect – and giving credit where credit is due – ray bradbury

  • mgbode

    people seem to like Shelley Duncan

  • they also used picks from ATL to trade up to 3

  • mgbode

    what do you mean?  we will have had 11 starting QBs in 14 years if Weeden starts week1.

    2012 Brandon Weeden?
    2011 Colt McCoy
    2010 Jake Delhomme
    2009 Brady Quinn
    2008 Derek Anderson
    2007 Charlie Frye (1 half only, but he was the guy who started)
    2006 Charlie Frye
    2005 Trent Dilfer
    2004 Jeff Garcia
    2003 Kelly Holcomb
    2002 Kelly Holcomb
    2001 Tim Couch
    2000 Tim Couch
    1999 Ty Detmer

  • Steve

     That’s all fine and dandy, but you passed on Reiff. Richardson-Reiff-Hill/Weeden is better than Richardson-Weeden-Glenn/Martin/Adams

  • Brown’s Medical Staph

    And Blackmon and Kendall Wright both had first round quarterbacks throwing them the ball. Guess we can’t draft them, either…

  • Chris

    Think before you complain.  Tampa clearly had a strong preference for TRich over Claiborne.  If Tampa was talking trading to three for Claiborne, no way do they move out of five and down to seven.  They would have just sat there, taken Claiborne and been really happy they didn’t have to use extra picks to get him.  Your assessment makes no sense.

  • jewpants

    and that’s just game 1 starters, correct? How many QBs have started any regular season game for Browns?

  • Jason

    Um, cause and effect? I love the guarantees of who would have been available to us at 37 if things went differently. If we take Reiff, who does DET take? That has no bearing on how the next 14 picks go? If the draft went like all the experts guarantee, it would be pretty boring, no?

    Fact is, they id’d Weeden (4th best QB) as a must have and got him. Still time to get a WR with 37 (Hill – 3rd best) and not out of line to think RT at 67(Adams/Schwartz – 5th or 6th best). Not too bad a haul I think.

  • eldaveablo

    Hate to break it to you, but since Richardson > Hillis and Weeden > McCoy, yes, they ARE better.

    Also, I hate to bring up math, but the Browns only had two first round picks. It’s kind of hard to fill 4 holes with two picks. And in case you haven’t noticed (as WFNY has), there are a ton of quality O-linemen and Wrs left on the board.

    Let’s wait for the draft to be over before you have a coronary about the team, OK?

  • eldaveablo

    Hmmm, you know your right from your left, correct (didn’t want to throw you off by saying “right” again)?

  • eldaveablo

    “Geriatrics” like Kurt Warner and Roger Staubach did OK for themselves.

  • Harv 21


  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Detroit certainly wasn’t going to take Weeden.  I don’t think Pittsburgh, New England, Houston, Cincy, GB, Minnesota, SF, TB or NYG were either but maybe in round 2 someone would have taken him as a backup at the age of 28.

    Fact is the only team who thought he was a round 1 player drafted him in round 1.  Good luck.

  • eldaveablo

    In case you haven’t noticed, the draft has a bunch of other teams going after the same players. The Browns have had lots of holes to fill, and aren’t going to put together their dream team just because they want to.

    While I’m sure they were hoping Weeden would be there at #37, he was rated the 18th best player on their board. Once Floyd & Wright were gone, they went to Weeden.

    Just try to keep in mind that they will have new, upgraded starters at QB & RB this year, and hopefully they will have new and improved starters at WR & RT by tomorrow morning.

    Just because a draft has not gone according to plan (which it never will), doesn’t mean it’s a bad draft.

  • mgbode

    yes, game1 starters.  I don’t want to go through all the Gradkowski, Wynns and McCowns today.

  • mgbode

    I like Glenn better than Reiff, so I am not so sure about that.

  • mgbode

    someone could have traded ahead of our #37 pick though.

  • Harv 21

    btw, I think the receiver they end up drafting will be the sprinter-type, not the polished route running possession guy. They have a big QB arm, they already have (supposedly) the big rangy catch and run guy, now they’ll look for Mr. Go Deep and Take That Safety With You. Reliable hands will be secondary to release and go ability.

  • Saurabhgup

    really?  Cuz Weeden has proved himself without offensive weapons such as Blackmon?  The point being there were higher needs at 22 than him.

  • Saurabhgup

    joe thomas; alex mack ring a bell?

  • I love the Trent Richardson pick, not too sure about the Brandon Weeden pick though. Don’t get me wrong, Weeden has the physical tools to be a great QB, but he’s still going to have a learning curve to the NFL, and at 29 yrs old, he just doesn’t have the time to make it as a franchise quarter back.

  • BenRM

    You are insane.

  • BenRM

    i think you should probably make the exact same point and link to the same article that you wrote some more

  • As it should.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    For Weeden?  C’mon.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    That is sick almost as bad as the drafts since 1999.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I was thinking more LeBron James wearing a Yankees hat or just a day or so ago when Antawn Jamison reportedly wore one on the way out after his final home game.

    Btw Duncan stinks so of course people like him here.