Cleveland Browns’ motto for 2012 Draft – Trade Up (In the Later Rounds)
Entering the 2012 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns entered with nine selections – which is more than the number of rounds (seven). Couple that with their four compensatory picks, and the franchise will have an opportunity to choose thirteen players in April (should that be their plan). This is their most picks since their rebirth in 1999 and more than any other team. Fortunately, this team has more talent than those Browns (who went 2-14); therefore even if the franchise stands pat not all draft picks may make the team. Thus, it should be in the best interest in the team to continue to trade up a few times.
Seven to nine draft picks is a reasonable number of selections for a team to have. Thirteen is far too many, especially when a fair amount come later in the draft and are spent on men fighting for roster spots. Also, the team will sign a few undrafted players who will compete over the summer to make the team. The Browns will need to find a trade partner, but should they package a few selections to move up a round earlier (or so) I feel the team will have an opportunity to improve overall at a quicker pace.
Compensatory draft selections cannot be traded, therefore the additional sixth and seventh round choices will be members of the Cleveland Browns. However, with two first, fourth, and fifth round picks (in addition to one pick in every round but the sixth) the team will be flexible on whom to take and when to select the players. Looking at both the previous two drafts, one must feel pretty confident that Tom Heckert will give up later draft picks in exchange for fewer, earlier selections.
In 2011, after trading down from pick number six to twenty-seven, the Browns’ general manager was willing to part with a third round selection in order to move up six spots to choose Phil Taylor. Additionally, in 2010 the Browns traded up into the second round for Montario Hardesty, giving up a pair of fifth round selections and a third round choice for an earlier pick.
Looking at the ammunition they have this year, I could see Heckert moving some of the later selections (in the third to sixth round picks) to another franchise to pick up fewer but more valuable players in the draft. Thus, the team will get better players who will not have to be cut due to the ample amount of rookies that would have been drafted.
Additionally, should the team trade down (i.e. from the fourth pick to a couple picks lower) I hope the team acquires more draft selections for 2013. Currently, the team does not have as many picks next year as in this April so a few more would not hurt. Include the compensatory picks (which could be a decent one should Peyton Hillis run wild in Kansas City) and the team could be in terrific shape once again.
Regardless of who they draft and where the players are taken, the important thing is the front office must select players who will stick around and contribute in the NFL for years to come. Some will argue that more selections in a draft gives the team more attempts at finding the “right guy” at several positions. However, there is so much roster turnover on an annual basis with injuries and free agency/trades that not all spots are guaranteed; this includes practice squad members (as other teams may need a certain position to fill their roster). Also, having extra picks is no guarantee of success regardless of who is making the choices. Finally, when attempting to keep the team under the salary cap, having to pay fewer draft picks only helps the franchise. Depending on the draftees’ salaries, the team could be on the hook for additional millions of dollars which could cause problems obtaining players down the road.
Therefore, the recent developments should add another level of intrigue for Cleveland Browns fans in the April 2012 NFL Draft. Not only has there been speculation whether the team will trade down from its first draft pick, there is a possibility of several trades in the later rounds to acquire earlier selections, assuming the deals can get done. I am in the camp for the first happening (but only at the right price), but the second part could potentially help the franchise for next season and beyond.