One week before the NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns have become the X-factor for how the first few picks may play out.
That may seem obvious, as the Browns hold the No. 1 pick — of course, they will set the table for how the beginning of the first round goes.
However, it’s not their No.1 pick, but their No. 12 pick, that’s making the beginning of the first round something of a fluid situation.
According to Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot, the Browns seem set on taking Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett with the No. 1 pick after some alleged division within the franchise. What the Browns will do next remains unclear.
According to Cabot, the Browns are open to trading the 12th overall pick in order to move up to select a quarterback. At the moment, UNC quarterback Mitch Trubisky is the hottest of the QB prospects and many expect him not to make it far enough in the draft for the Browns to take him at No. 12.
That means the Browns would have to deal the 12th pick and another later pick — they have eight total first- and second-round picks in 2017 and 2018 — to leapfrog several teams to get Trubisky. According to Cabot, the Titans and Jets have both openly said they would listen to offers for their fifth and sixth overall picks, respectively. Jets GM Mike Maccagnan even bluntly told reporters recently, “If someone wants to move up in any particular round, call us up.”
While Trubisky appears to be the Browns’ favourite QB prospect, head of football operations Sashi Brown also didn’t sound in love with the idea of giving up multiple picks to move up in the draft, telling reporters on Wednesday, “We are open to it. Generally, we value picks … We don’t want to get into a habit of turning two picks into one, so to speak. We just don’t think that is a good way to do business over time.”
There is more than one way for the Browns to acquire a future franchise quarterback, something they have struggled to do for several years. The Browns could stay at No. 12 and target one of the other quarterbacks, such as Clemson’s Deshaun Watson or Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes. They also could look to acquire one in a trade with their treasure trove of picks, with the Patriots’ Jimmy Garoppolo being a popular name on the Browns’ radar, despite reports the Patriots won’t move him.
When asked about trading for a veteran QB, Brown said it’s not in the Browns’ plans, though he didn’t rule it out completely.
“Could we in theory? Yes,” Brown said. “But are we planning on it or is that the plan? No.”
What the Browns decide to do with the pick may impact who lands Trubisky and how the rest of the typical scramble for quarterbacks may play out. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that if the Browns want Trubisky, they will have to jump the Buffalo Bills at No. 10, as they may want Trubisky.
The 49ers and Bears pick second and third, respectively, and both are without franchise quarterbacks. Indications are that neither team will take a quarterback with their top picks, but then again, quarterbacks tend to come off the board early come draft time — Jared Goff and Carson Wentz were the top two picks last year. Below them are the Jets, who need a quarterback but are said to not be interested in Trubisky.
The Browns, in many ways, hold the keys. They have the assets to move to anywhere in the draft if they want, but their willingness and desire to do so may be the bigger question. If the Browns leapfrog the competition to get Trubisky, they may send other teams interested in Trubisky into a scramble. However, if the Browns stand pat at 12 and Trubisky goes off the board early, they may once again wheel and deal picks to move to a position they like better.
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