The NFL Scouting Combine doesn't begin until Feb. 22. Free agency doesn't start until March 13. And the NFL Draft doesn't kick off until April 26.
Despite those facts, the business of prematurely publishing mock drafts is in full swing.
Several early mock drafts -- like five of these eight from NFL.com -- predict the Browns will select Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III with the fourth overall pick.
A couple of others, one by Steve Wyche of NFL.com and another by Andrew Perloff of SI.com, have the Browns trading up to acquire the second overall pick from the St. Louis Rams, then using the selection to nab Griffin.
In Wyche's mock draft, which was published today, he wrote, "Several teams are going to try and move up to get Griffin but the Browns have the most ammo -- the fourth overall pick and a late first-rounder or high picks in later rounds. Cleveland needs Griffin -- and wants him, according to league sources -- and the Rams will still get their man." Wyche predicted the Rams would select Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon fourth overall if they could pull off the trade with the Browns.
The Browns have expressed a desire to acquire a quarterback -- via free agency or the draft -- who can compete with Colt McCoy and Seneca Wallace in training camp, so it wouldn't be a surprise if the organization is interested in Griffin, whom coach Pat Shurmur raved about in late December. It would, however, be more surprising if the Browns traded up. General Manager Tom Heckert covets draft picks -- he made the blockbuster draft-day trade last year with the Atlanta Falcons so he could stockpile selections -- and the Browns have so many holes to fill on their roster.
In other words, trading picks to move up the draft board doesn't seem to be Heckert's style. It's more likely, in my opinion, that the Browns would stay put at No. 4 or even trade down if Heckert targets a player he believes will be available later.
Other mock drafts have other teams trading up to the No. 2 spot to select Griffin, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. Albert Breer of NFL Network predicted the Miami Dolphins would do so, and Jason La Canfora of NFL Network has the Washington Redskins swooping in to take Griffin second overall.
Sure, a team might trade up for Griffin. I just don't think it'll be the Browns. But if he's available at No. 4, the bigwigs in Berea should pounce.