Posted on 27 April 2012.
BEREA — the Browns identified the two players they needed in the first round of the NFL Draft. Then they made sure they got them.
Alabama running back Trent Richardson was the first choice, and general manager Tom Heckert determined it was worth three lower-round picks to move up one spot to no. 3 to guarantee he’d land him.
“Trent was the guy we really wanted,” said Heckert, who added another team offered the Vikings more to move up to no. 3.
When 28-year-old Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden was available at no. 22, Heckert quickly decided not to gamble on him still being around at no. 37.
“When talking about a quarterback we didn’t think it was worth taking a risk,” Heckert said late Thursday night after the conclusion of the first round. “With the quarterback, we wanted to make sure we got him.”
Weeden, who was acquired with a pick obtained in the 2011 blockbuster draft-day trade with Atlanta, is expected to start right away. Heckert said you don’t draft a guy in the first round to sit, and added the organization would begin discussing the possibility of trading incumbent Colt McCoy.
Heckert said he believed Weeden is “the guy” – the franchise quarterback the Browns have been searching for since Bernie Kosar.
“We felt he was a winner,” Shurmur said. “He’s an outstanding thrower, good decision-maker, very accurate. I wasn’t concerned about his age. I’m impressed with his maturity.”
Heckert made no secret of the team’s need for offensive playmakers in the days before the draft, then did something about it. the offense will look a lot different in 2012 with Richardson running, Weeden throwing and coordinator Brad Childress directing the offense.
“I don’t know if we transformed (the offense),” Heckert said. “But I think we’ve gotten better. We’re very excited about the two guys we got today and we look forward to the rest of the draft.”
The draft continues tonight at 7 o’clock with the second and third rounds. the Browns have eight picks left over the final six rounds, including no. 37 overall, which will be the fifth pick today. They also have no. 67 in the third round and no. 100 in the fourth. Receiver and right tackle are at the top of the wish list, followed by cornerback and outside linebacker.
Heckert’s aggression was obvious before the draft even began. After falling short in an attempt to trade up to no. 2 to acquire Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III earlier in the offseason, he was on a mission.
Less than an hour before the draft began, the Browns traded the no. 4 overall pick and selections in the fourth (No. 118 overall), fifth (139) and seventh rounds to Minnesota for the no. 3 pick. with quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Griffin going first and second, the Browns were guaranteed to get Richardson.
When it came their time to pick, they quickly turned in the card – before Washington had turned in its pick at no. 2 — and waited for commissioner Roger Goodell to announce his name. Richardson hugged his two young daughters and Alabama coach Nick Saban backstage before holding up a Browns jersey with his name and no. 1 on the back.
He appreciated the significance of the trade.
“It says that I’m their guy and they want me,” Richardson said on a conference call with Cleveland media. “I better do something to help them win. A lot of pressure on me. I call it an opportunity to try and better this team, help this team win more games.”
The selection of Weeden should help. he became the oldest player ever drafted in the first round, and will turn 29 in October.
But he’s 6-foot-3½ and 221 pounds with a strong arm and classic delivery. he went 12-1 as a senior and beat Luck, Griffin and Ryan Tannehill in head-to-head matchups. They were picked Nos. 1, 2 and 8 Thursday night.
“I was hoping that this would happen,” Weeden said on a conference call.
Weeden spent five years as a minor league baseball pitcher after the Yankees drafted him in the second round out of high school. he completed 66.9 percent with 34 touchdowns and 13 interceptions as a junior in Oklahoma State’s spread attack. he was even better in 2011, setting school records with 408 completions in 564 attempts (72.4 percent) for 4,727 yards and 37 touchdowns. he threw 13 interceptions.
Two picks, two offensive needs addressed. that only makes sense for a team that went 4-12 in 2011 and ranked 30th in the NFL in scoring with 13.6 points per game. They were 28th rushing (95.7 yards) and 24th passing (193.1).
If the Browns manage to turn from cellar-dweller to playoff contender, Thursday night may be viewed as the turning point. Franchise running backs and quarterbacks aren’t found every day.
“Going back to last year, we made a point to emphasize we wanted to be tough,” Heckert said. “Obviously taking Trent helps us on offense being a physical football team.”
This night started out all about Richardson. the franchise of Jim Brown, Marion Motley and Leroy Kelly has a featured back — a year after totaling four rushing touchdowns as a team. no. 3 is the highest pick the Browns have ever spent on a running back, as Brown was no. 6 in 1957.
“Oh, my god. I can’t explain it to you,” Richardson said. “Bigger than winning my national championship. I’m high on life.”
Richardson wouldn’t be dragged down by criticism from Brown on ESPN Radio. he called Richardson “ordinary.”
“I don’t have any reaction to that because I have a lot to play for, with his shoes, the stuff he did in life and even with Emmitt Smith coming from the same town, I’ve got a lot to prove,” Richardson said. “But I’m going to prove him wrong. he said ordinary. I’m an ordinary human. But as a back, I’m going to be that special guy.”
The last time the Browns traded up a spot in the first round, then-coach Butch Davis gave Detroit a second-rounder in 2004 to move up to no. 6 to select tight end Kellen Winslow II. Heckert gave up much less.
Browns fans are counting on Richardson having a longer, more productive career in Cleveland than Winslow did. he set Alabama records with 1,679 yards rushing (5.9 average) and 21 touchdowns as a junior in 2011.
“We will talk a bunch about Trent, he is passionate, he is productive, he is durable,” Shurmur said. “He is the kind of runner that we feel is going to help us put an offense together to score the points that we need to win the games that we are going to win.
“If you don’t sense the excitement in my voice, then you are missing it. I think he is going to be one of those players that our fans and our community will be able to watch run the ball for a lot of years. that is what we are excited about.”
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.
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NFL Draft: Browns get their men — RB Trent Richardson and QB Brandon Weeden « The Chronicle-Telegram – Lorain County’s leading news source