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Browns expect starters from first three picks

The Sports Xchange

The Browns went into the draft with the mission of reshaping their offense and that is exactly what they did by taking running back Trent Richardson third, quarterback Brandon Weeden 22nd, right tackle Mitchell Schwartz 37th and wide receiver Travis Benjamin 100th overall with their fifth pick of the draft.

Coach Pat Shurmur will be disappointed if the first three picks don't start. The Browns needed a cornerback but didn't get one until the 245th pick. Instead they drafted two linebackers plus two more defensive linemen after signing two linemen in free agency.


Running back Trent Richardson: When Mike Holmgren took the Seahawks to the Super Bowl in the 2005 season, Shaun Alexander rushed for 1,880 yards and 27 touchdowns. Richardson could be that guy for the Browns. He knocks would-be tacklers over and can catch out of the backfield. He is an excellent pass blocker.


Wide receiver Travis Benjamin: The Browns waited until the third day of the draft to take a wide receiver but when they did they got one of the fastest in the group. He is only 5-10, 172 pounds, but he can stretch the defense and if not start be the X receiver in four-receiver sets.

A closer look at the Browns' drafts:

Round 1/3 - Trent Richardson, RB, 5-9, 228, Alabama

The Browns traded picks 4, 118, 139 and 211 to move up one spot for the third pick. Richardson scored 24 touchdowns in 2011. The Browns scored 20 on offense. The offense is instantly better.

Round 1/22 - Brandon Weeden, QB, 6-4, 221, Oklahoma State

Weeden is expected to start immediately. He might have been able available in the second round, but the Browns did not want to risk another team drafting him.

Round 2/37 - Mitchell Schwartz, OT, 6-5, 317, Cal

Finding a right tackle was a priority, especially since the Browns plan to run with Richardson. Schwartz can play right or left tackle, but with Joe Thomas on the left side, Schwartz is expected to start on the right.

Round 3/87 - John Hughes, NT, 6-3, 306, Cincinnati

Hughes gives the Browns depth behind starters Ahtyba Rubin and Phil Taylor.

Round 4/100 - Travis Benjamin, WR, 5-10, 172, Miami

Benjamin is a speedster who can return punts and kicks. He caught 41 passes for 609 yards and three touchdowns last year.

Round 4/120 - James-Michael Johnson, LB, 6-1, 241, Nevada

The Browns need a backup for D'Qwell Jackson after not tendering Titus Brown. Johnson will be a major contributor on special teams.

Round 5/160 - Ryan Miller, OL, 6-7, 321, Colorado

Miller could challenge for a starting job at right guard or right tackle.

Round 6/204 - Emmanuel Acho, LB, 6-1, 238, Texas

Acho led the Longhorns with 131 tackles and had 14.5 tackles for loss in 2011. He plays outside linebacker.

Round 6/205 - Billy Winn, DL, 6-3, 294, Boise State

--Winn started 11 games at tackle and one at end for the Broncos in 2011. Size makes him a tackle for the Browns.

Round 7/245 - Trevin Wade, CB, 5-10, 192, Arizona,

He can play the nickel and will be used on special teams.

Round 7/247 - Brad Smelley, TE, 6-2, 233, Alabama

Smelley caught 34 passes for the Tide. He is reunited with Trent Richardson.

--In one memorable night the Browns made two moves to transform their offense from one of the worst in the league to one they hope can find the end zone more than once a game.

The Browns started the trade ball rolling Thursday when they dealt the fourth pick and a fourth- (118), fifth- (139) and seventh-round choice (211) to the Vikings to move from fourth to third and then used the pick to take running back Trent Richardson from Alabama.

All along General Manager Tom Heckert said it was unlikely the Browns would trade up one spot, but they made the deal to make sure Tampa Bay or another team did not trade with the Vikings instead.

"We knew as we went through the process he was our guy," Coach Pat Shurmur said. "We had pretty good knowledge there were teams behind us that wanted him as well, so we gave up a couple picks to make sure we got him.

"We're thrilled. He's passionate, he's productive, he's durable and he's the kind of runner we feel will help us put an offense together to score the points we need to win the games we're going to win. He's a terrific player. He's going to be a fine addition to the Cleveland Browns."

Heckert followed Richardson by taking quarterback Brandon Weeden from Oklahoma State with the 22nd overall pick. Some projections had Weeden as a second-round pick, but Heckert said he did not to wait another 13 picks until the Browns choose 37th overall on Friday.

"When you talk about quarterback, we didn't think (waiting) was worth taking the risk," Heckert said.

Richardson scored 21 rushing touchdowns and three on receptions for the Crimson Tide in 2011. The Browns totaled 20 offensive touchdowns last season and finished with 218 points, the third fewest in the league.

"This is bigger than winning the national championship," the former Alabama star said in a conference call from New York. "I'm on Cloud Nine right now."

Quarterback success in college doesn't always translate into NFL success -- McCoy at Texas was the winningest quarterback in college history at 45-8 -- but Weeden threw 34 touchdown passes in 2010 and 37 last fall. He totaled 26 interceptions over the two seasons.

"I was hoping this would happen," Weeden said in a conference call. "I've been through a draft before, so you never know what's going to happen. When I went through the baseball draft I talked to every team but the New York Yankees and the Yankees drafted me.

"I was sitting by the phone when Mr. Heckert called. It was the call of a lifetime. I'm going to do everything in my power to be a better quarterback and win as many games as possible."

The quarterback chase for the Browns this offseason was a long one. They tried to trade up to the second spot so they could draft Robert Griffin III but were outbid by the Redskins. They showed no interest in free agent quarterback Matt Flynn, who ended up signing with the Seahawks.

For the last month the Browns have been building up McCoy, saying they were going to get him a better supporting cast. Now that supporting cast -- to be strengthened more Friday and Saturday -- will likely be supporting Weeden.

"We feel he can do all the things we expect a quarterback to do," Shurmur said. "He executes mostly from the pocket but he throws well on the run. If he can't get yards, make the throw or throw the ball away.

"We're always looking for bigger, stronger, faster guys. A taller guy can sometimes see a little better. A quarterback does have to be able to take a little bit of a pounding. They all get hit."

Weeden is 6-foot-3, 221 pounds. McCoy is listed as 6-foot-1, 215 pounds. McCoy missed part of 2010 with a sprained ankle and the last three games of 2011 with a sprained ankle.

McCoy might be traded before the draft ends, but for now he and Weeden will compete for the starting job.

"I haven't even stepped foot in Cleveland, so I can't answer that question," Weeden said. "I think the Browns feel good about me as a player. It's still kind of overwhelming. I promise I'm going to leave it all on the field and be the best player I can possibly be."

Richardson and Weeden were among the first draft eligible players to visit the Browns this spring. They were together at dinner with the Browns brain trust on a Sunday night about three weeks ago.

Now the plan is for them to spend their Sundays together for years and years to come.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.


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