Browns President Mike Holmgren is standing by the decision to give up three third-day draft picks to move up one spot in the first round of the NFL draft, saying his team had to be absolutely sure it would get Trent Richardson. But the Browns may have been bidding against only themselves when they were negotiating with the Vikings about swapping first-round picks.
The Browns’ biggest concern was that the Buccaneers, with the fifth overall pick, would leapfrog them and get the Vikings’ third pick, and take Richardson ahead of Cleveland. But Peter King writes at SI.com that while the Vikings talked to Tampa Bay about the pick, but the Bucs were never seriously interested in it.
That doesn’t necessarily mean the Browns were wrong to make the trade — it’s possible some team other than the Buccaneers would have moved up ahead of the Browns to take Richardson — and King argues that the Browns made the right move. But it does suggest that the Browns might have gotten their man even if they had held firm and decided to pick at No. 4.
It’s also another sign of what a good job the Bucs did of hiding their intentions before the draft. Everyone thought Tampa Bay wanted either Richardson or LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, but it turned out that they didn’t move up for Richardson and traded down when they were on the clock with a chance to draft Claiborne. The Bucs ended up moving back and taking Alabama safety Mark Barron seventh overall, then using the Jaguars’ fourth-round pick, which they got for their trade from No. 5 to No. 7, as ammunition to move back into the first round to take Boise State running back Doug Martin 31st overall.
Most people thought the Bucs wanted either an upgrade at running back with Richardson or an upgrade in the secondary with Claiborne, and that the best-case scenario for Tampa Bay was getting one or the other. As it turned out, they were able to upgrade both positions with Martin and Barron. Whether the Browns made the right move in trading up is debatable, but it’s hard to argue that the Buccaneers used smart draft-day trading to improve their roster in the first round.