Tom Heckert Talks First Round as the NFL Draft Inches Closer

With the draft exactly one week away, Cleveland Browns general manager Tom Heckert took to the podium for his pre-draft press conference, fielding questions about headlines, smokescreens and the pressure to perform given the draft history of the team under which he presides.

While he would understandably not get into specifics, reacting to all draft board questions with body language that ranged from slight chuckles to belly laughs, Heckert discussed philosophy and where, exactly, the front office is when it comes to analyzing specific players.

Unless the team is presented an offer like they received last season, one which Heckert claims he is still happy with, the Browns general manager stated that not only do they wish to stay with the fourth-overall selection, but there is collective agreement on who they will take when their helmet pops into the corner of the screen during ESPN’s Thursday night broadcast.

But, Peter King said otherwise!

“I haven’t talked to Peter King in years,” Heckert exclaimed. “Everyone says stuff [about the draft] that they do not know — it’s their best guess.”

Armed with 13 draft picks and a boat load of needs, much of the focus heading into next Thursday night will be surrounding skill players, specifically those on the offensive end. Heckert claims that the guys whom the team opts to select in the first three rounds will all be starters, but a lot of what happens is also in the hands of luck. The team has what they call “scenario boards” which aim to replicate a mock draft in fantasy football. If they select Player A with the fourth pick, who do they land at Nos. 22 and 37?

No players were discounted. Justin Blackmon and Trent Richardson were called “class guys.” Mo Claibourne could be one of the three cornerbacks Heckert feels a team needs to succeed in a passing league. Ryan Tannehill had an excellent workout and hasn’t moved up draft boards — he’s where teams had him on day one. Is Brandon Weeden’s age an issue? No, but it’s there. The more pre-draft stories of diversion that are released, the better.

Heckert confirmed that the team does not have a tiered approach to their first selection and that there are difinitive numbers one through four. And not long before providing yet another vote of confidence for quarterback Colt McCoy, Heckert claimed that the team feels that there are presently 18 players who grade out as “first round-talent,” two of which they are confident they can obtain with their two first-round selections. When the draft board shakes out, however, while the team is very aware of their needs, their philosophy of drafting whom they feel is the best player available will continue to dominate.

“You have to be careful, can’t panic,” said Heckert. “I’ve made bad mistakes and it was not from a skill position standpoint, but it was a position of need. We traded up for both positions, but they were bad moves and something we never should’ve done. It was a long time ago and we learned from it. There’s a lot of pressure from media and fans, but it’s my job to say ‘wait, it’s not the right thing to do.’ I think it’s the hardest thing to convey to fans. We want guys as much as they do, but we can’t make mistakes. We just try to do the right thing.”

Hey! Come to our draft party!

Photo: Gus Chan / The Plain Dealer

  • mgbode

    same here.  when they opened up shop in valley view, I was relieved (it’s so hard to drive that hour+ back to Cleveland when it hurts to sit up).

  • Fezzik

    Anybody want a peanut?

  • John Keefe

    Is it still possible for us to get Mike Wallace on this team?  Sorry guys, been kind of out of the loop the last few weeks.  Work and all.

    Still praying we take TRich at 4.

  • Garry_Owen

    Man, do I miss Schmidt’s.  And Thurmon’s.  And Adriatico’s.  And . . .

  • Garry_Owen

    Have you never been to Schmidts?  Say it ain’t so!

    If not, I’m about to drive from PA to TX, find you – although I have no idea who you are or where you live (Austin area?), throw you in the trunk, and drive the 21 hours to Columbus.  It’s worth the kidnapping, and the 25 to life that I’ll receive.   

  • Psaid2

    We would lose pick at #4 as he is a restricted FA. That is why teams up top of the draft will shy away.

  • Psaid2

    I agree. Take Richardson with 4 and use later picks plus 22 (not 2nd round) to move up and get Michael Floyd. 

  • Psaid2

    I would be OK with Claiborne if we can package 22 and a later round to get Michael Floyd. Great receive and run blocker. We cant stop losing 13-10 games. We need someone to score.  

  • Psaid2

    That pick was a joke. How can simple fans know better than a very well paid GM?

  • Psaid2

    I agree with you. We should have gone after Winston. We overpaid for Rucker – with Winston not there. It would have convinced mroe offense players to believe we had an offense in mind

  • Psaid2

    I agree with Floyd. He is more than a receiver – he blocks great in the running game – with attitude! I loive getting  TRich and moving up to get Floyd. We cannot keep losing 13-10 games.

  • DontbringLBJback

    Kirk, the reason Colt’s game isn’t going deep is because we have no deep threats… no one that blows by people or even close.  Check on youtube and look at some of the sick throws he made to Limas Sweed… 50-60 yards of air under quite a few of them.  He doesn’t have the best arm in the league… no question… but he can put it out there 60 yards, which is good enough for any NFL playbook.

  • porckchopexpress

    Never fear, I’m pretty sure you can get the buffet any day of the week (its been about 3/4 years since I’ve been), and there is a Quaker Steak at Polaris, so you can hit them both.  I sure wouldn’t want to have to share a bathroom with you that weekend.

    The Bahama Mama sausage is worth the drive, and the homemade cream puff makes you feel better about knocking a few years off the backend of your life.

  • porckchopexpress

    Man, I forgot about Adriatico’s I haven’t had that since the Big Ten actually was 10 teams.  I remember going down every football weekend to visit my brother , getting pizza drinking all day, and stopping at Labambas for a super burrito at 2 or 3 in the morning.  I was probably 5000 calories deep without having a beer.

  • Jim Brown

    Mike Holmgren claims that Colt McCoy is his guy, I believe him as much
    as people believed John Elway when he stated, matter of factly, that Tim
    Tebow was his guy and he was going to stick with him…lol.   Colt
    McCoy is what the Cleveland Browns are stuck with, until the Browns
    management is able to get an NFL caliber quarterback for their team. 
    What do you get when you put the best NFL line and the best receiving
    corps together with Colt McCoy, that’s easy…a losing NFL football
    team.  It’s not rocket science, and no matter what spin Mike Holmgren
    puts on it, when he tells himself the truth, he knows that currently the
    Cleveland Browns don’t have a single NFL caliber quarterback on their
    team and he knows it.

    To give you a perspective here, Tim Tebow is a 5 times better NFL caliber quarterback than any quarterback currently on the Cleveland Browns roster!!!!  That fact is pretty sad when you sit down and think about it, and it clearly shows how bad the Cleveland management has done the past several years!