General Manager Tom Heckert, coach Pat Shurmur and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell participated in a conference call today with the Browns' season-ticket holders, club-level members, suite holders and corporate partners. Browns President Mike Holmgren was originally scheduled to take part in the call, but a spokesman said he is ill. Therefore, Shurmur took his place. Here are some of the highlights from the conference call:
- With the NFL Draft two weeks away, Heckert said the Browns' draft board is pretty much set. There will be some maneuvering, but most tweaks will by minor. "Right now, we're just going through different scenarios," Heckert said. "If we trade up, who are we going to trade up for? If we trade back, who can we still get? So those are the types of things that we're really thinking about more now. We've got the players pretty much set."
- Heckert wouldn't confirm which draft prospects have visited the Browns' headquarters, but he said fans can believe most of the reports that have surfaced about the visits. "You're allowed to bring 30 players into the facility," Heckert said. ... "If (there's) somebody that we're probably gonna think about taking at No. 6, it's pretty much safe to say we've had him in here."
- Prospects' personalities and demeanor are important, Heckert said. He said he has moved prospects up or down his draft board based on interviews.
- Workouts at the combine aren't always deciding factors, Heckert said. Cornerback Joe Haden had a poor performance in the 40-yard dash at last year's combine, but he showed he had character by running hurt, Heckert said. The Browns, of course, selected Haden seventh overall in last year's draft.
- Heckert said the Browns will be ready for free agency, even though no one knows when it will start because of the lockout. He said the Browns will make moves to help the team, but they're not going to go crazy and spend a ton of money.
- Heckert said he wants to draft the best player available, and he's not going to change his draft strategy and pick players solely based on positions of need because free agency has stalled.
- Winning franchises build through the draft, and sustain success for long periods of time by trying to get as many young, talented players as possible, Heckert said.
- Heckert said he realizes the team's switch to a 4-3 defense calls for more defensive linemen, but it doesn't mean the Browns need to take a defensive lineman with the sixth overall pick. He said quality defensive linemen can be picked later in the draft.
- The character of prospects is extremely important, Heckert said. The Browns talk to prospects' trainers, coaches and teammates to find out as much as they can about character. Heckert said it's important to separate prospects who have consistently had character issues from prospects who might have made dumb mistakes because they were young.
- Heckert said he's mindful of prospects' past injuries. He said the Browns must decide if a player with injury concerns is worth taking a risk on. Last year, he thought running back Montario Hardesty, who was a second-round pick, was worth it.
- Shurmur said he has used recent visits to get to know prospects. He said the Browns' evaluators try to ask prospects questions to find out they'll respond to adversity, and how they'll behave after receiving lucrative contracts.
- Hardesty has progressed extremely well while rehabilitating his left knee (torn ACL last year), Shurmur said. The team's communication with Hardesty and other injured players, however, has been cut off as a result of the lockout.
- Shurmur said the Browns will switch to a 4-3 defensive because it's the scheme he and Heckert are most comfortable with. He also said new defensive coordinator Dick Jauron has used a 4-3 scheme for most of his career.
- Once again, Shurmur expressed his faith in quarterback Colt McCoy. "I really am a Colt McCoy guy, so to speak," he said. Shurmur said he looks forward to working on fundamental with McCoy, so he can turn the success McCoy experienced as a rookie into consistent success.
- Shurmur said he expects to be aggressive in his decision making on game days. It's never wrong to take points by kicking a field goal, he said, but he wants his entire coaching staff to know the appropriate situations in which to gamble.
- Goodell said he couldn't reveal any specifics about the second round of mediation between players and owners because the mediator requested confidentiality. He also said the owners' proposed collective bargaining agreement before the lockout was responsive to the issues the players raised.
- The NFL is still planning to have a full 2011 season, Goodell said. He said a full schedule will be released in the next 10 days.
- Goodell said the owners have not in any way discussed using replacement players if the labor dispute is not resolved.
- The NFL has the flexibility to push back the Super Bowl in Indianapolis one week, Goodell said. The flexibility exists because the league was preparing for the possibility of imposing an 18-game regular season schedule when it planned the Super Bowl.