BEREA — John Dorsey's aggressive approach to his job as general manager is the primary reason the Browns could wind up picking a player in the opening round of the April 25-27 NFL Draft despite trading the 17th overall selection last month as part of the Odell Beckham Jr. deal.
The Beckham blockbuster left the Browns without a first-round choice for the first time since 2008. Dorsey loves to wheel and deal, though, and he left the door wide open Thursday for a bold trade-up scenario.
"Surely I will do that if it helps the organization moving forward," Dorsey, who's made 17 trades since the Browns hired him on Dec. 7, 2017, said during a pre-draft news conference. "But the compensation on the back end can’t be outrageous. It has to work on both sides."
The Browns aren't scheduled to go on the clock until midway through the second round (No. 49 overall).
If Dorsey moves up the draft board, he could be doing it for Jeffery Simmons. The defensive tackle from Mississippi State is widely considered a top-five talent — "a phenomenal football player," Dorsey said — but could slide to late in the first round or beyond for three reasons: 1) He was caught on video as a high school senior pummeling a woman on the ground who had been fighting his sister; 2) he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee while training in February; and 3) the defensive line class is the strength of the draft, as Dorsey has repeatedly pointed out, so there is tremendous depth.
"If [Simmons] was there at 49, you may think about it," Dorsey said. "But you have to see what’s best for the organization."
That scenario seems unlikely. Most draft analysts can't envision Simmons falling that far.
So what would it take to go get him in the first round? A glance at trade value charts suggests the Browns could package No. 49, a second-round pick next year and perhaps a player like running back Duke Johnson, whose agent has requested a trade, for a late first-round choice.
Asked if he would be willing to surrender the type of compensation other teams have given up to move from the middle of the second round to late in the first round, Dorsey said, "If a certain player is there that I deem that the value fits the player, yes."
First-round picks automatically come with a fifth-year option on their rookie contracts, so that could provide motivation to trade up.
"There’s an advantage to that," Dorsey said. "Let’s make no mistake. Anytime you can get a fifth-year option with a good player, that always helps out."
Dorsey explained he'll be working through trade-up scenarios for about three days early next week and will call teams in the back end of the first round to gauge potential deals.
"You always do your due diligence and just see what's the possibility of going up or what's the possibility of going back," Dorsey said.
The likeliest trade partners are probably the Oakland Raiders because they have three first-round choices (Nos. 4, 24 and 27 overall) and the New England Patriots (No. 32) because coach Bill Belichick has made 24 draft-weekend trade downs.
Two weeks ago, Simmons had a pre-draft visit with the Browns and discussed his act of violence against a woman. Last month at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix, Dorsey passionately defended Simmons' character.
"Had a chance to sit down with him, talk about the past, talk about the steps he’s taken at Mississippi State over the course of his career at the school," Dorsey said. "So what we’re going to do, if it’s the possibility he’s there, we’re going to sit and talk about it as an organization and make the best decision moving forward and make sure that everybody’s comfortable with that decision moving forward, if it happens."
The Browns were comfortable with signing running back Kareem Hunt on Feb. 11, even though he was captured on security footage shoving and kicking a woman in downtown Cleveland last year.
"It’s a case-by-case basis, and I think you sit there and you begin to [say], 'Let’s understand everything involved [with Simmons],' " Dorsey said. "So we’ll make that decision. We’ll see if it happens. We’ll see what that decision’s all about."
No matter where Simmons is drafted, he'll probably sit out the 2019 season while rehabilitating from recent ACL surgery. The Browns wouldn't need to rush his return because Dorsey signed defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson in March to a three-year, $39 million deal.
"You sit and talk to your medical staff and see how long it will actually take with regards to his recovery of that injury," Dorsey said. "Then you begin to digest the information you have and see is there enough factual information to make a prudent decision."
If Simmons isn't in the cards, the Browns still might have a chance to draft a big-name defensive tackle. Ohio State's Dre'Mont Jones is projected by some analysts to be taken in the middle of the second round. The Cleveland native and St. Ignatius High School graduate worked out for the Browns last week during their local pro day.
"A great kid," Dorsey said. "The defensive line coaches put him through about 15-, 20-minute drills, and you saw all of the explosive movement that you had heard about. When you combine his ability to play the game of football and the person, you couldn’t be more happy to have a player like that on your team. I thought he did an outstanding job."
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com. Read his Browns coverage at www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ByNateUlrich and on Facebook www.facebook.com/abj.sports.