NFL Draft: Heckert Keeps Browns’ Strategy a Mystery

Close to the vest, but appeasing the masses, Browns general manager Tom Heckert took to the podium on Thursday morning to discuss the upcoming 2011 NFL Draft.

Chief among questions during the 45-minute press conference surrounded what he considers to be the Browns’ biggest “need,” an inquiry which received little to no answer with regard to specifics. 

“We’re going to try to the best of our ability to stick to a philosophy of drafting the best available player,” said Heckert when prompted with a question regarding the team’s needs on both offense defense.  Heckert feels that picking the best player, regardless of position, and attempting to not “get too cute” is the key to a successful draft. 

Looking for an identity, the Browns are largely considered to be addressing key weaknesses by drafting either a defensive lineman or a wide receiver with their first pick, the sixth overall selection.  LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson – considered one of the top overall talents in the draft – has also seen his name in the mix when it comes to Cleveland being a potential suitor.

Specific to Peterson, Heckert deemed his package of size and speed indeed makes him a “rare, rare guy” but – in line with the theme of circular logic – also referenced players like Alabama’s Julio Jones (foot), North Carolina’s Robert Quinn (character, condition) and Clemson’s Da’Quan Bowers (knee), all of whom have question marks floating above their heads like giant Arby’s logos. 

With specific regard to the wide receiver spot, Heckert stated that both Jones and Georgia’s AJ Green fit into a west-coast offense, the scheme which the Browns are fully expected to be running in 2011, but he also feels that current wide receivers Brian Robiskie and Mohammed Massaquoi will also flourish in what will be their third year with the team.  Heckert is the man responsible for landing Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson in Philadelphia, a second-round pick at the time.  Admittedly, he feels that Jackson falling into the second round was a bit of luck, but this shows that talent can certainly be obtained outside of the sixth-overall pick in 2011.

In 2010, in first season as general manager, Heckert provided Cleveland with one of the best drafts they have seen since the Browns returned in 1999.  Using the seventh-overall pick on cornerback Joe Haden, the Browns also landed key contributors in subsequent rounds, drafting safety TJ Ward and quarterback Colt McCoy in the second and third round, respectively.  Running back Montario Hardesty, offensive lineman Shawn Lauvao and wide receiver Carlton Mitchell are all expected to contribute in 2011.

Gus Chan / The Plain Dealer

  • Alex

    What does “not get too cute” mean?

  • Scott

    “What does “not get too cute” mean?”

    TJ Ward was the highest player on their board. Sure, they could try and gamble that he’d be there later on, but if the BPA is available, you take him regardless of where you think others have him on their list.

  • Scott

    Caveat: unless that players name is “David Veikune.”

  • Shamrock

    They still have so many holes almost anyone will help, just like Haden a year ago. The idea of Peterson and Haden at the corners is great but so to is idea of a Green or Jones at the wide out. Personally I still like Von Miller but then again I’ve always been biased towards LBs. Honestly I hope they don’t draft a DL. Find guys later for it.

  • Denny

    Heckert looks way too much like Vincent D’Onofrio for me to take him srsly.

  • Nick

    It really comes to finding an identity for the team. Its clear teams in our division are built on the defensive side of the ball. Depending on what happens ahead of us, I say take Miller or Peterson and create a defense that the knowledgeable fan base of Cleveland will stand behind. I agree, however, that the defensive line is not a priority unless you have a blatant Julius Peppers-esque talent, and I don’t see it this year.

  • TSR3000

    Miller, Peterson or Green.

  • Nicky Z

    My thoughts… probably either Quinn or Bowers with the 1st round pick, then Leonard Hankerson aka “Big Hank” with the 2nd rounder. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them trade down from #6 and then grab Julio Jones later in the 1st round, then grab the top DL on their board in the 2nd. Either way, Heckert’s da man.

  • mgbode

    1. Marcel Dareus (likely gone)
    2. Patrick Peterson (most likely gone, but possible)
    3. Nick Fairley (he doesn’t want to play in the cold, but too bad. he’s the best remaining talent with all the ? with Bowers)
    4. AJ Green (likely gone)

    it’s strange, there seems to be almost a consensus of how the top picks are going to go right now among “in the know” mockers:

    1. CAR – Cam Newton
    2. DEN – Marcel Dareus
    3. BUF – Von Miller
    4. CIN – AJ Green
    5. AZ – Blaine Gabbert

    Of course, that just means it will go completely different. I love how it lands us Peterson though.

  • saggy

    Like I have been saying for months.

  • Vagabond

    Don’t underestimate Cincy’s ability to completely screw up. Green could be available. Or so I hope.

  • Wheel

    If Green or Peterson is not available, I hope they trade down a few spots. We could still get Jones with the 10th or 11th pick. Please don’t pick Jones with the 6th pick. His tendency to drop passes reminds me of another Browns WR who was a first round pick.

  • bobby

    I would love Peterson, but I have a feeling that Arizona will be taking him if Von is off the board. They could also go DL, but I think Peterson is going to be too good to pass and from everything Ive read nothing points them to a QB like the “mocks” suggest.

    I am really not high on Jones, and while Green would be nice if available, I just dont think thats where Heckert will be going. I see Newton, Dareus, Miller, and Peterson gone by the time the 6th pick comes up- I cant decide who the Bengals will pick. I could see Green, but I think their WRs did well after TO and 85 were out at the end. Also, I could see Gabbert if they believe Carson is gone. Peterson, Bowers and Quinn are all possibilities too.

    So for the Browns- I think its Peterson as the top choice. If he’s gone and Gabbert is on the board they may be able to trade down. If they cant, I think it will be Quinn or Bowers. Quinn looks like the more “prototypical” choice based on Heckerts history.

  • Mac

    This would be a dream scenario for the browns:
    #1 CAR- Cam Newton
    #2 DEN- Marcell Dareus
    #3 BUF- Von Miller
    #4 CIN- AJ Green
    #5 ARI- Blaine Gabbert
    TRADE #6 DAL- Patrick Peterson
    We get their 2nd round pick (40), and their 5th (143)
    #7 SF- Robert Quinn
    #8 TEN- Nick Fairley
    #9 CLE- Julio Jones
    Fast forward to the #23 pick where the Philadelphia is picking and Da’Quan Bowers is still falling. We call and give them dallas’s second round pick (40) and our third (70).
    #23 CLE- Da’Quan Bowers

  • bobby

    Mac- I disagree. I think Peterson IS the dream scenario for the browns. Best player in the draft falling to #6? Have to get him.

  • http://NA Joe

    Remember when Mike Williams from USC was widely considered the ‘BPA’, or Reggie Bush, or even Eric Berry from last year? I would love to get a trade offer from a team who’d wants to move up for Peterson