Browns defend trade up for Richardson

Holmgren defends the trade-up to No. 3 to take the 'Bama back.

The Browns, like most NFL teams, never met a draft they didn't like.

General manager Tom Heckert went into the 2012 draft with 13 picks in his pocket and after two trades ended up making 11 choices. He took six players on offense - most notably his first three picks - and five on defense.

True to the plan set forth at the start of free agency, the Browns "stayed the course." They did bundle three late picks to move up one slot so they could be assured of taking running back Trent Richardson, but in what they hope results in a brighter future the Browns held onto picks 22, 37 and all their first-round picks going forward.

Browns president Mike Holmgren was miffed by reports claiming the low picks were basically given away. One day after the trade for the third pick an Internet story referencing unnamed team executives said the Vikings were bluffing when they said other teams were trying to move up to the third spot.

"Contrary to what was written and what was said, we had to compete for that," Holmgren said. "We weren't the Lone Ranger in that deal. We had to compete. I thought it was an excellent trade because we got the player who's going to be, Lord willing if he stays healthy and all those great things, a really fine player for us for a long time."

In the days that followed, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said the Internet story was inaccurate.

"We did have offers on the table, I can tell you that," Spielman told the St. Paul Pioneer-Press on Tuesday. "I'm not going to tell you who or what. But I will say Cleveland did the right thing."

The entire Browns draft would have unfolded differently had Tampa Bay or another team jumped up to three to take Richardson. Had they stayed at four, the Browns would likely have taken wide receiver Justin Blackmon if Richardson was off the board.

Heckert would have had a decision to make with the 22nd pick - take quarterback Brandon Weeden, as he did, or use the choice on Doug Martin or David Wilson. The pair of running backs went back to back to Tampa Bay and the Giants respectively with picks 31 and 32.

Assuming the Browns would have taken Weeden after Blackmon, they would have missed out on each of the top three running backs by the time their turn came around again at 37. They used that pick on right tackle Mitchell Schwartz.

The Browns expect Richardson, Weeden and Schwartz to start. They also expect major contributions from fourth-round linebacker James-Michael Johnson from Nevada.

"He's one of those linebackers that have position flexibility," head coach Pat Shurmur said. "He can play both outside spots and he's played some snaps in the middle so we feel good about him joining that group.

"We feel like we've addressed some needs. We've picked players that we like and we feel like we've gotten better."

NOTES:

Offense focus for Browns' early choices

--The Browns in 2012 used their first three picks on offensive players for the first time since 2009 when they took center Alex Mack in the first round and wide receivers Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi in the second round.

Prior to 2009, the last time they went back-to-back-to-back on offense was 1985 when all seven draft picks played offense led by running back Greg Allen in the first round. That same year they drafted wide receivers Fred Banks, Reggie Langhorne and Shane Swanson, guards Greg Krerowicz and Larry Williams plus tight end Travis Tucker.

--The Browns were awarded punter Spencer Lanning on waivers from the Jacksonville Jaguars. Lanning became expendable after the Jaguars drafted Bryan Anger from Cal in the third round.

Lanning was an undrafted rookie in the Bears camp last summer. He was waived last Sept. 2 and signed with Jacksonville in January. He provides the Browns insurance in case Reggie Hodges has a setback in his rehab from an Achilles tendon tear that wiped out his 2011 season.

--The future of Colt McCoy with the Browns is uncertain, but for now he is still the starting quarterback.

The Browns denied reports they talked to other teams during the draft about trading McCoy after drafting Brandon Weeden in the first round. They also denied a report they told McCoy they would not take a quarterback in the first round.

"We don't consult our players about who we plan to draft," coach Pat Shurmur said.

--Rookie linebacker Emmanuel Acho and his parents travel to Nigeria every summer on medical missions. His parents were born in Nigeria.

"We travel with about 40 doctors and nurses every summer," Acho said. "We stay in a village for about a week giving people free medical treatment. We see about 7,000 patients in that time."

QUOTE TO NOTE:

"We would all like to see a big jump this year. That is our hope and we think that is possible and we think that it is reasonable." - Browns president Mike Holmgren

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