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News » Draft blows away the veil of secrecy

Draft blows away the veil of secrecy

Draft blows away the veil of secrecy

The smoke clears today on the first Browns draft of the Eric Mangini-George Kokinis era.

So many questions will be answered, after which we will know the direction chosen by the super-secretive new regime.

Does Mangini intend to select the quarterback he believes will lead the Browns to the Super Bowl?

The moment of truth will come if USC's Mark Sanchez is still on the board when the Browns' No. 5 overall pick comes up.

Does he intend to cast aside fan favorite Brady Quinn and trade him to the highest bidder?

Denver and the Jets remain hungry for Quinn, despite a report out of Denver that the Browns said Quinn was unavailable.

Can he pull off a trade of receiver Braylon Edwards and still field a lineup of competent wideouts?

New York and national media reports insist the Giants won't part with their first-round pick for Edwards.

That could change when the clock's ticking on their 29th overall selection and they're staring at a handful of flawed wideouts.

Will Mangini follow the draft pattern of mentor Bill Belichick and seek to build his defense from the inside out?

When in doubt, Mangini can peek at that imaginary WWBD rubber bracelet all Belichick disciples wear and make his selection based on quot;What would Belichick do?quot; If it comes to that, he would select Boston College defensive tackle B.J. Raji or LSU defensive end Tyson Jackson?

And who will be the next Browns starter to be displaced after the draft concludes Sunday?

More than one close observer of the Browns believes it will be center Hank Fraley.

By virtue of former GM Phil Savage's aggressive dealing, the Browns are limited to five draft picks; one was retrieved by Kokinis in the trade of Kellen Winslow to Tampa Bay for its second-round selection - No. 50 overall.

The Browns currently are without picks in the third, fifth and seventh rounds. Only New Orleans (four) has fewer overall picks than the Browns .

To get an idea how far behind the eight-ball Mangini and Kokinis are, consider the draft war chest enjoyed by the following elite teams: New England and Dallas have 11 picks, Tennessee, Philadelphia and the Giants 10, Pittsburgh and Indianapolis nine. Even Cincinnati, which finished one-half game ahead of the Browns last year, is stocked with 11.

Rebuilding his team through extra picks has been a mantra of Mangini as he went about tearing down walls in the Browns locker room and moving his video room at great expense.

Exercising that plan may be contingent on events out of the Browns' control.

For instance, the player attracting the most chatter about a trade into the top five is Sanchez, the USC field general who has all of 16 career college starts. St. Louis (at two), Kansas City (three) and Seattle (four) are said to be happy to move down.

Washington (No. 13) is said to be the team most desirous of Sanchez, but the Redskins are as hamstrung as the Browns with only five picks and don't have the ammunition to move into that vicinity unless they get a discounted deal.

Although many reputable mock drafts (including The Plain Dealer's) have Seattle choosing Sanchez at No. 4, a strong feeling exists that the Seahawks have feigned interest in Sanchez to attract a trade. And if their bluff is called, the Seahawks very well could pass on Sanchez.

The same is not being said about the Browns and Sanchez.

Ever since Mangini left the USC pro day workout on April 1, the Browns have been linked with Sanchez. One team executive said it was highly unusual that Mangini actually attended the USC workout. True, the Trojans are sending numerous blue-chip players into this draft - including a trio of first-round linebackers - but Mangini generally does not attend the pro day workouts, said the source.

Mangini also spent a considerable amount of time with Trojans coach Pete Carroll after the player workouts. Again, he could have been getting the lowdown on the linebackers. But the source said that Mangini reached the conclusion then that he wanted Sanchez. And that was before Sanchez shot up in the charts.

Or could it be a logically planned, perfectly orchestrated smokescreen set up by Mangini to improve equity in the fifth pick and attract trade options?

If the Browns are unable to acquire extra picks in the first two rounds, it would be an anti-climactic finish to one of the most talked-about pre-draft periods in the team's franchise era. The rumored trades of Edwards and Quinn have stirred up a fan base slogging through its fourth management regime in 11 years.

Forced to make a selection at No. 5 - and assuming Sanchez is taken higher via a trade - the obvious choices for the Browns to consider are Raji, Jackson, Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry (who may slip), Texas 3-4 linebacker project Brian Orakpo and Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree.

The Browns don't seem inclined to shock the world by taking USC linebacker Rey Maualuga that high, especially after Maualuga did not accept an invitation to visit with the Browns because of previous commitments.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: tgrossi@plaind.com, 216-999-4670



What: NFL Draft.

When: 4 p.m.

Where: Radio City Music Hall, New York City.

TV: ESPN, NFL Network; ESPN2 (starting at 9 p.m.)

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 28, 2009

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Steve Heiden Name: Steve Heiden
Position: TE
Age: 31
Experience: 10 years
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