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Judgements: Can't argue with RG3's burden in D.C., Browns big trade

by | CBSSports.com Senior NFL Columnist

So Andrew Luck goes to Indianapolis with the first pick of Thursday's 2012 NFL Draft, and Robert Griffin III goes to the Washington Redskins with the second pick. Now what? Well, now people want to know who's under more pressure to produce immediately, and puh-leeze. The answer is obvious.

RG3, come on down.

I mean, this one's not even close. Luck goes to a club that is one step above an expansion team, a tear-down project that will take seasons to restore to prominence. The head coach is new. The GM is new. The quarterback is new. The expectations are new. There are none. In fact, one general manager told me before the draft, "They'll be so bad, you won't hear of Andrew Luck for a couple of years."

The same, however, can't be said of RG3. Washington is not a rehab project. The Redskins have enough decent players in enough key positions that they believe they can contend for the NFC East crown.

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Everyone's entitled to their opinions. What I know is that Washington surrendered so much to choose Griffin -- three No. 1s and a second-rounder -- that he can't be merely a good quarterback; he must be a great one.

That means there's no margin for error. And that learning curve for rookie quarterbacks? Uh-huh, it's out the window, because he must master it immediately. Washington fans will want Cam Newton and Andy Dalton rolled into one, someone who can produce something more than 5-11 or 6-10 seasons -- Washington's records under Mike Shanahan.

They want it all, and they want it now ... which means the heat is on RG3.

And Luck? So he follows Peyton Manning. Well, actually he doesn't. He steps into a 2-14 mess, with Manning removed from the scene for over a year. He doesn't take over for Manning. He takes over for Curtis Painter and Kerry Collins, and, no, I don't consider that pressure.

But Griffin? The heat is on, people. Washington must win and win now, and with what the Redskins paid to draft the Heisman Trophy winner, it's no wonder fans see him as a savior.

Because the franchise does, too.

2. Minnesota GM Rick Spielman just became the early candidate for Executive of the Year with a deal that netted the Vikings three draft picks for doing ... well, absolutely nothing. Apparently, Spielman's talk about potential trades put Cleveland in a panic, with the Browns nervous they could lose running back Trent Richardson. So they took no chances, launching a pre-emptive strike to make sure Richardson didn't get away. That meant Minnesota picked up three draft picks, as well as the guy it was going to take at the third spot anyway, tackle Matt Kalil -- and I call that smart.

3. If there were credible reason to believe Tampa Bay might jump into the third spot -- and you have to believe there was -- it's hard to argue what Cleveland did. I learned long ago that if you have a conviction about someone, you do what you can to make sure he's yours. The Browns were locked on Richardson for some time, and they should have been. He's a special talent, and their running game stinks. So they weren't going to risk losing him, and I have no problem with that. Look at it like this: If they lost Richardson, who were they going to take that would be the weapon Richardson is? Justin Blackmon? Give me a break. Without looking at Cleveland's board, I guarantee Richardson was ranked higher -- much higher -- than the Oklahoma State wide receiver. The Browns had 13 draft picks, so they were playing with house money. They did what they had to do. "If you can't sense the excitement in my voice," Browns coach Pat Shurmur said, "then you're missing it."

4. The only guy happier than Shurmur is offensive coordinator Brad Childress. In Minnesota, he had Adrian Peterson for a running back, and he and Brett Favre nearly took him to the Super Bowl. Now he has the best running back and one of the top players, period, in this draft, and that's a start.

5. I know that was Kalil whom Minnesota took with its first pick at fourth overall, but I don't know ... that guy on stage at Radio City Music Hall looked a heckuva lot more like Jeff Saturday.

6. Yes, I like Buffalo's choice of cornerback Stephon Gilmore for this reason: When you play in the same division as Tom Brady, you can never, ever, ever have enough defensive backs. The Bills now think they have the pass rush (Mario Williams and Mark Anderson) and the secondary to make life uncomfortable for a quarterback who's 18-2 vs. Buffalo.

7. If you want to know what your team is doing next, start following Seattle owner Paul Allen on Twitter. He had every pick well ahead of the announcements. The NFL eliminated the Green Room camera to heighten the suspense, but it forgot to take a laptop away from Allen.

8. I would like to know how much the St. Louis Rams really valued Blackmon because, unlike Cleveland, they didn't budge and lost him when Jacksonville jumped ahead of them to take him at the fifth spot. A source close to the Rams told me this week St. Louis was in love with Richardson, not Blackmon, and if that's the case, it should've done business in early March with Cleveland, not Washington, when it sold off the second overall pick.

Shea McClellin gives the Bears the outside pass-rusher they need. (US Presswire)  
Shea McClellin gives the Bears the outside pass-rusher they need. (US Presswire)  
9. Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said he had numerous pre-draft conversations with Seattle and thought he was going there. And he could have, except the Seahawks bailed out of the 12th spot. That's just another reason not to pay attention to pre-draft visits and contacts.

10. And now a message from Norv Turner: Thank you, Rex. Because the Jets passed on Melvin Ingram, the Chargers were able to take him with the 18th pick. He's perfect for them, just as he was perfect for the Jets.

11. Season tickets to Seahawks games for anyone that nailed that Bruce Irvin pick.

12. Big, big evening for New England and Bill Belichick. The Patriots couldn't stop the Giants on their last drives in Super Bowl XLII and XLVI, so they resolved to do something about it, and they did with the additions of defensive end Chandler Jones and linebacker Dont'a Hightower. Jones would've been a higher pick had he not missed the last five games with a knee injury, and he's a perfect fit for a team that lost its top two pass rushers, Andre Carter and Mark Anderson.

13. Just a hunch, but St. Louis takes a wide receiver in the second round. The Rams have three of the first 13 draft picks. Stephen Hill, please stand by.

14. There were no players chosen from Florida, Florida State or the University of Miami. But there were two taken from Stanford, Illinois, Baylor and Boise State. Bob Dylan was right.

15. Those footsteps you're hearing, Baltimore and Pittsburgh, are the Cincinnati Bengals. They chose cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick with the pick they gained in the Carson Palmer deal and found guard Kevin Zeitler -- a guy who had a staggering 142 knockdown blocks last season -- at the 27th spot. In the past two drafts, they added A.J. Green, Andy Dalton, Kirkpatrick and Zeitler with their first four picks, one reason they're narrowing the gap with the division frontrunners.


1. Cleveland taking no chances with Trent Richardson. Finally, the Browns got it right. By drafting Richardson, the Browns find a remedy for one of the league's worst running games. I'm not talking about last season. I'm talking about the past decade. In fact, since the Browns returned to the NFL in 1999, only twice (2007 and 2009) have they ranked higher than 20th in rushing. Worse, four times they ranked last or next to last. They were 28th in 2011, with no back running for more than 587 yards. That was Peyton Hillis, who is gone, and it's a total so low that it was surpassed by three quarterbacks (Cam Newton, Michael Vick and Tim Tebow). You wonder why they had to have Richardson? Now you know.

2. Pittsburgh finding guard David DeCastro at the 24th spot. GM Kevin Colbert admitted he considered trading up to get the guy, but he didn't have to. DeCastro, one of the top 15 players in this draft, fell to Pittsburgh, and somewhere Ben Roethlisberger is happy.

3. The blizzard of trade activity. There were four draft-day trades a year ago in the first round. There were three in the first six picks Thursday and 10 overall, including two by New England and two by Denver.

4. Chicago's choice of Boise State defensive end/linebacker Shea McClellin. The guy goes 100 mph, seldom misses a tackle and can play a myriad of positions. The Bears needed another outside pass-rusher, and they have one now. McClellin had 33 tackles for losses and 20.5 sacks in his past 37 games, some of which he finished on the sidelines because his team was so far ahead. The more I look at Chicago, the more I consider it serious competition for Green Bay in the NFC North.

5. The chances that Luck or Griffin goes to the Super Bowl sometime in his career. Reason: The odds. They are the fifth set of quarterbacks to be chosen 1-2 in a draft, and, of the other eight, four started in Super Bowls -- with one (Jim Plunkett) winning it twice.


1. New York's pick of UNC defensive end Quinton Coples. I know the Jets need a pass rusher, but they could've had Melvin Ingram, for crying out loud, and he would've been a perfect fit for their 3-4 defense. Instead, they took a 4-3 defensive end, and somebody please explain. They also took on a guy who was terrific in 2010 and lackadaisical in 2011. Tell me, is that someone you want in your locker room? Is that someone you want in the Jets' locker room?

2. Seattle taking Bruce Irvin with the 15th pick. Are you kidding me? The guy tested off the charts at the combine, but he's a liability. In fact, one scout told me he didn't want to do anything but rush the passer, meaning he wasn't interested in starting or playing special teams. That's one reason most clubs had him buried somewhere in the second round. Maybe Pete Carroll finds something in this guy. I wouldn't rule it out, not after what he did with that defense last year. But this one was a considerable reach.

3. Cleveland taking quarterback Brandon Weeden with the 22nd pick, one of the choices it gained in the Julius Jones trade last year. Huh? The Browns don't need another quarterback; they need playmakers or another offensive lineman. This is why these guys don't get ahead. I don't care whether it's Weeden or Colt McCoy, Cleveland's quarterback doesn't do squat until he has someone better than Greg Little or Mohamed Massaquoi outside. Oh, and memo to McCoy: Adios. You don't spend a first-round draft pick on a quarterback to hold a clipboard. The Browns chose Weeden to replace McCoy.

4. The absence of the Dallas Morning News' Rick Gosselin at the draft. Nobody knew the draft better ... and that includes some NFL player personnel directors. Gosselin got off the NFL beat last year and became a columnist, which took him out of the draft. Good for him, bad for the rest of us.

5. Dontari Poe at the 11th spot. I trust GM Scott Pioli, and Poe is someone who has rare talent. But he wasn't the top defensive tackle in the draft. Fletcher Cox was. Scouts I trust were really, really down on Poe's performances, with the boom-or-bust tag mentioned about every third sentence. This is a gamble. If you hit on him, you might get an All-Pro. If not, you blow a high draft pick. The Chiefs need a defensive tackle. I get that. But why take the risk on Poe?


2 -- Minutes it took for Colts to make Andrew Luck the first pick

3 -- Hours it took to complete first round, or roughly the time of a football game. Beautiful.

4 -- Defensive players drafted during the Rex Ryan regime. There have been 14 choices overall.

4 -- Wide receivers taken by San Francisco since 1985, or post-Jerry Rice.

4 -- Consecutive years a quarterback has been chosen with the first pick

1994 -- Last time a Notre Dame draft choice went higher than Michael Floyd. It was Bryant Young, chosen seventh by San Francisco.


Does NFL commissioner Roger Goodell really need to bear hug these guys?

How did Nike get those names on jerseys so fast?

When's the last time the Patriots traded up twice in a draft, let alone the first round?

Who takes a flyer on Janoris Jenkins?

What on earth happened to Courtney Upshaw?


Minnesota. The Vikings went into Thursday thinking they would get left tackle Matt Kalil to protect quarterback Christian Ponder ... and they did. But they also acquired three draft picks with him, thanks to that pre-draft trade with Cleveland. When you're in a rebuilding mode, and the Vikings are, you need all the picks you can get. Minnesota just picked up three more for the Saturday look-alike. Rick Spielman, go to the head of the class.


St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford. He was supposed to get Justin Blackmon for a receiver. He didn't. He was supposed to get Michael Floyd as a receiver. He didn't. Don't tell me it's another year of Brandon Gibson and Danny Amendola. It can't be, and it probably won't. The Rams have three of the first 13 picks Friday, and Stephen Hill and Reuben Randle are still on the board.


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