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BEREA - Phil Savage made no bones about it that the Browns felt Day One of the draft was very important to them this year. Selecting Joe Thomas and trading up to get Brady Quinn and Eric Wright was eye-popping to say the least. An ESPN fan poll listed the Browns as having the best first day with 49 percent of the votes.
“We have an urgency because quite frankly I’m not that excited about the second day of the draft,” Savage said. “We might have a few players who fall in our lap. For our team and our needs, guys can come in and compete with other players we had. That’s the hidden agenda. I think we have upgraded the low end of our roster. It’s not guaranteed that sixth- and seventh-round guys are going to come in here and make our team anymore.
“We felt like we needed to be aggressive and get three players who can have an impact at any point whether it’s day one or next year,” he said. “Quarterback, offensive line and secondary are your three major groupings of your team. If you have an offensive line that can do some things, you are going to have a chance on offense. If you have a secondary that doesn’t give up big plays, you are going to stay in most games. If you have a quarterback that can make some plays for you, be a leader and learn the offense, those are three things that will keep you in games and help you win a lot of them. Those are the major groupings of our team. I’m most excited about that because I think we’ve upgraded the talent level in those three areas.”
Savage pointed to Thomas, Quinn and Wright as building blocks to help the Browns turn things around.
“Obviously, it was a very exciting day for me and the Browns,” Thomas. “After the fishing trip, I was watching the draft and was excited and hoping the Browns could get Brady. They put together a heckuva first day and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
Thomas made no secret of his goals.
“My goal is to be a Pro Bowler and a Hall of Famer player,” he said.
Quinn emphasized again that he is very excited the way things turned out.
“I think everything turned out about as well as it could be for me,” Quinn said. “It’s not how you start, but how you finish.”
There were some knocks against Quinn, but he refuted them.
“People threw around a lot of things like accuracy,” he said. “It’s hard, but you wonder who’s making those comments. There’s no doubt about my ability.
“I will definitely use the events of draft day for motivation,” he said. “In the end, this is where I wanted to be. To be behind a great left tackle like Joe, I would like to have a guy like him protecting my blind-side. The (Browns) did it right by getting a tackle like Joe.”
Maybe one of the bigger picks was the acquisition of Wright. With the departure of Daylon McCutcheon and the major injury to Gary Baxter, the Browns need a starter opposite of Leigh Bodden.
“Any time a team trades up to get you, it makes you feel good,” Wright said. “I thought there was a possibility to take me with the 36th pick, but they made another move and came and got me.
“I couldn’t blame the Browns for going to get Brady when he was still there,” he said. “But it made me nervous because I thought they might draft me at 36.”
Wright was described as a first round talent, who fell because of character issues.
“It’s definitely been a long road, a roller coaster ride and it made me very leery of the people I associated myself with,” he said. “I really need to portray myself as the true person that I am. I think this organization has done everything they could do to feel comfortable with me.
“If the off the field incident hadn’t happened, I probably would’ve still been at USC and been one of the top cornerbacks taken,” he said. “I still went as the fifth cornerback. I knew it would take care of itself.”
He’s determined to show the Browns were right in making the move.
“It’s definitely an opportunity of a lifetime,” Wright said. “I’m going to bring my lunch pail every day and view it as a privilege to play in this game.
“It’s very personal to me and I want to be successful for myself and the Browns,” Wright said. “I didn’t feel I needed to do anything other than be honest. I think the teams got the vibe that I was telling the truth. I think for people who did the homework on the situation will feel comfortable with me.”
In the Numbers: CB Gary Baxter switched his number to 23 and that’s why Wright was holding No. 24 jersey. Quinn is wearing No. 10. Thomas said he doesn’t care what number he wears.
“I told my agent I don’t really care what my jersey number is,” Thomas said. “Let’s talk about this later.”
Ryan Tucker wears Thomas’ college number, 72. Quinn has worn No. 10 since high school.
“I strive for perfection and that’s what I’ve worn since high school, so it was available.”