The Browns traded up one spot and used the third overall pick in the NFL Draft to select Alabama running back Trent Richardson.
As expected, the Indianapolis Colts made Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck the top pick, and the Washington Redskins selected Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III at No. 2.
The first surprise tonight surfaced shortly after 7 p.m., about an hour before the start of the draft, when the Browns swapped positions with the Minnesota Vikings to ensure another team couldn't leapfrog them and nab Richardson. NFL Network reported the Browns gave up selections in the first (No. 4), fourth (No. 118), fifth (No. 139) and seventh (No. 211) rounds to move up to No. 3.
Last week during his pre-draft news conference, Browns General Manager Tom Heckert said it was “highly unlikely” he would trade up from No. 4 to No. 3. But Heckert also said, “never say never.”
In the 2011 draft, Heckert traded with the Atlanta Falcons, moving down from No. 6 to No. 27. He later moved up to No. 21 to take defensive tackle Phil Taylor. The Browns have another first-round pick (No. 22) this year as a result of their blockbuster deal with the Falcons.
Richardson is the first running back drafted in the opening round by the Browns since William Green in 2002. He also became the highest-picked running back since Reggie Bush was selected second overall by the New Orleans Saints in 2006.
Richardson finished his three-year collegiate career with 540 carries for 3,130 yards (5.8 yards per carry) and 35 touchdowns to go along with 68 receptions for 730 yards and seven touchdowns. Last season as a junior, Richardson started all 13 games, rushing for 1,679 yards on 283 carries (5.9 yards per carry) and 21 touchdowns and catching 29 passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns.
The 5-foot-9, 228-pound Richardson should give the Browns a powerful, three-down back who can serve as a receiving threat out of the backfield and a steady pass protector. He’ll also fill a dire need for Browns in the aftermath of Peyton Hillis’ departure in free agency.
ESPN's Bill Polian, the former president and vice chairman of the Indianapolis Colts, is among the notable analysts who have praised Richardson during the pre-draft process. Last week during a conference call, Polian said Richardson "might be the best player in the draft. You could argue that. He has very few flaws. And even as nit-picky as we get at this time of the year, there’s very little to dislike about him or even very few nits to pick."
Richardson did not work out in February at the NFL Scouting Combine because he was recovering from an arthroscopic surgery he had on his left knee Feb. 3 to repair a meniscus tear. Richardson, though, impressed during Alabama’s pro day on March 29, when he posted a time of 4.47 seconds in the 40-yard dash, bench pressed 225 pounds 25 times and knocked Browns running backs coach Gary Brown to the ground during a blocking drill.
Click here to read our draft preview feature about Richardson. And stay tuned for more updates throughout the night.