To trade or not to trade? That is the question the Browns could face if they want to draft Robert Griffin III.
The Browns have two first-round picks in this year’s draft, the fourth and 22nd selections. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay is convinced they will need to trade with the St. Louis Rams and move into the No. 2 slot to nab Griffin, the reigning Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback from Baylor.
Free agency begins at 4 p.m. March 13, and it certainly will affect the draft, which runs April 26-28. If the Browns decide to use the draft instead of free agency to acquire a quarterback they deem capable of competing for a starting job, they could benefit from other potential suitors of Griffin satisfying their quarterback needs before late April.
The Washington Redskins, who have the sixth pick, and the Miami Dolphins, who will select either eighth or ninth depending on the outcome of a coin toss at the NFL Scouting Combine, are also in the market for a quarterback. As a result, McShay believes the Browns won’t have the luxury of Griffin falling to them at No. 4.
“If the Browns want him, they need to move up and get him,” McShay said Thursday during a conference call. “I’ll be surprised if he lasts till four, and I’ll be even surprised if he gets to No. 3, because I think that No. 2 pick is up for public auction. I think the Rams are going to get a good deal to move back and can still get a player they want at tackle or wide receiver. And if it’s not Cleveland, then it’s probably going to be Washington right behind them leapfrogging Cleveland to get up to No. 2.”
McShay said the Browns might be able to trade the fourth pick and their second-round selection (No. 37) to the Rams in exchange for the No. 2 choice. However, the draft trade value chart some NFL teams use indicates the Browns would need to give up both of their first-round choices and a sixth-round selection to move up to No. 2.
If the Browns had to trade the fourth and 22nd picks to ensure they got Griffin, McShay thinks they should pull the trigger. The Browns need to find their quarterback of the future, and McShay said Colt McCoy is not the answer.
“I would do it,” McShay said. “I wouldn’t do it for any other position, but I would do it for quarterback. I’m not saying Colt McCoy will never be a really good starting quarterback in the league, because I think we’ve seen enough flashes, but I think we’ve also seen teams [have] adjusted to his inability to consistently throw the ball down the field with velocity and accuracy. … With McCoy, we’ve kind of seen in the last couple of years that he has the intangibles, the toughness, the competitiveness, the ability to move to see and create and keep plays alive and [throw with] accuracy underneath, but the limitations are there.
“There’s a reason the vast majority of teams drafting in the top 15 need a quarterback and the vast majority of the teams drafting in the bottom 15 don’t, and it’s because the teams that are in the playoffs and are consistently winning have a good quarterback. So for me, it may seem like you’re giving up too much [by trading two first-round picks], but I’d much rather nail it at the quarterback position than sit there at four, miss out on the quarterback, get [Alabama’s] Trent Richardson at running back, [Notre Dame’s] Michael Floyd at receiver and still not have anyone to get them the football that you feel great about.”
In their season-ending news conference, President Mike Holmgren and General Manager Tom Heckert said they want to build the franchise through the draft, and the notion of losing picks in a trade conflicts with their philosophy. Still, they wouldn’t rule out using selections as trade ammunition.
“We positioned ourselves to have draft picks to fill in holes to really keep building the team and the depth of the team,” Holmgren said Jan. 5. “Philosophically, no, we would like to use our picks. That will not prevent my car salesman friend [Heckert] from wheeling and dealing during the draft. It’s a possibility. Anything’s a possibility. Philosophically, we need the picks to keep filling in the roster.”
Making an exception to secure Griffin would be wise in McShay’s mind. In the past year, Griffin has improved from a projected third-round pick to one of the best players in the draft, he said.
“He has really made huge strides as a passer in terms of that accuracy, and it’s so important,” McShay said. “Then you look at the athleticism, which is through the roof, his speed, which is exceptional, and it leads to a lot of potential big plays when he does decide to take off and run. But what I like about him is he is a true passer first, and he’s not an impatient guy that’s always looking to get outside the pocket.
“He will sit in there, he’ll hang tough. He can throw from a lot of different launch points. He can snap the ball off and has a strong arm.
“I love his mental makeup,” McShay said. “He’s a leader, he’s tough and most importantly, he’s smart. He picks things up quickly, and I haven’t found a person I’ve talked to that says anything but great things about him in the classroom and understanding offensive concepts and just his natural intelligence. I think he’s every bit worth the pick. I think in most other drafts, if you didn’t have [Stanford quarterback] Andrew Luck, he would be legitimately competing to be the No. 1 player on the board.”
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Read the Browns blog at http://browns.ohio.com Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/browns.abj.