When we spent a portion of last Monday’s Pro Football Talk on NBC Sports Network pointing out the best and worst moves that we believed each AFC team made in the draft, I took issue with the Browns’ decision to swap a fourth-round pick in 2013 for a third-round pick in 2014 and a fifth-round pick in 2013 for a fourth-round pick in 2014.
The Browns take issue with the criticism of the decision.
According to Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, who as one league source pointed out appears to be on track to becoming one of the primary local-media mouthpieces for the new regime, the Browns simply didn’t like the players who were available to be picked at the time they swapped current picks for future picks in one higher round.
Per Pluto, a “top operative” in the Browns organization became “angry” at the suggestion that the new regime didn’t trust the work that had been performed by the scouts hired by the Mike Holmgren/Tom Heckert front office tag-team. “We had all the information we needed,” the source told Pluto. “We did our homework. The [prior] scouts were not an issue when we came to the trades. We just didn’t like the players available.”
In defending the team’s decision to trade the picks, Pluto writes that new G.M. Mike Lombardi knew he’d get the job during the regular season — which if accurate is hardly a ringing endorsement for the effectiveness of the Rooney Rule.
That said, we still think it would have been prudent to use the draft picks now and not later. A lot can change by next April, especially with the Browns in the relatively unique position of being owned by someone whose other business is the subject of an aggressive FBI and IRS investigation.
Pluto has plenty of other keen insight regarding the Cleveland draft, including the team’s reasons for not trading from No. 6 down to No. 16 with the Rams, the four possible “blue chippers” the Browns had on their draft board, and the plans for first-rounder defensive end Barkevious Mingo, who’ll transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense.
Moving forward, we’ll keep an extra-close eye on Pluto’s news and analysis of the Browns, because it appears he has definitely found a pipeline into the thinking of the folks now running the team.