BEREA: Browns General Manager Tom Heckert is recovering from a recent heart surgery that forced him to miss the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, President Mike Holmgren said Monday.
Heckert did not have a heart attack, but doctors discovered a blockage after he went to the Cleveland Clinic for an examination because he had not been feeling well, Holmgren said. The surgery is believed to have been a bypass.
“There has been some speculation about where he’s been and all this kind of stuff, so I just want to kind of set the record straight,” Holmgren said. “I just got off the phone with him. He had heart surgery. He’s gonna be fine.
“He had a blockage in an artery. They found it. They fixed it. But it lays him up for a while. This was done a couple weeks ago.”
Heckert, who also missed the Senior Bowl, will work for a little while in his office today at the Browns’ headquarters, Holmgren said. Heckert will incrementally increase his workload leading up to the NFL Draft, which runs from April 26-28, Holmgren said.
“He’s gonna be an integral part — it won’t change anything in his involvement in the draft,” Holmgren said. “Little by little, by the time the draft comes up, he should be back in here working full time.”
Browns coach Pat Shurmur said Heckert’s absence from the combine, which ends today, will not harm the organization’s pre-draft preparation. Shurmur said Heckert, 44, would watch combine workouts on TV and use Skype to participate in the Browns’ interviews with prospects at the combine.
Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus showed off his speed Monday while working out at the combine.
The 6-foot-3, 260-pound Mercilus, an Akron native and Garfield High School graduate, posted a time of 4.68 seconds in the 40-yard dash, ranking fourth among defensive linemen. He also tied for eighth in the broad jump (9 feet, 10 inches), bench pressed 225 pounds 27 times and posted a height of 32 inches in the vertical jump.
Mercilus talked to several teams at the combine, including the Browns. One of his goals at the combine was to display the quickness that helped him lead the nation with 16 sacks last season as a junior at Illinois.
“I have a good first step,” Mercilus said. “I’m able to come off the line pretty quickly. I’m able to wear out players, too. I have a never-ending motor, and I’m able to keep going until the fourth quarter, until somebody is dog tired and just take advantage of them.”
Mercilus said he received a third-round grade from the draft advisory board, but he expects to be selected earlier. NFLDraftScout.com projects him as a first- or second-round pick.
When asked at the combine if the Browns are open to the possibility of trading with the St. Louis Rams, moving into the No. 2 slot in the draft and selecting Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, Shurmur said, “We’re open to anything.”
Meanwhile, John Czarnecki of FoxSports.com reported that the Rams “have been getting weird, uninterested signals from the Browns.” The Browns, who have the fourth and 22nd overall picks, have shown interest in trading for the No. 2 selection, but the Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins and Seattle Seahawks have shown more interest, Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com reported.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com. 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.