EXCLUSIVE: Drama Surrounds Draft Day Plans

The 2003 NFL draft is now just a few short hours away and the Browns have much busier than they have let on in the local press.<br><br> Lane Adkins brings you the <I>exclusive</I> inside scoop on the rumors and college players of interest to the Browns. A must-read in the hours leading up to the draft...

The time is almost here. All the smokescreens we expect in the weeks leading up the 2003 NFL draft have clouded the air, but the mists will begin to part soon.

Numerous trade rumors have swirled throughout the league in these days leading up to the draft, and the Browns have been involved in their fair share. Preposterous rumors about quarterback Tim Couch and running back Jamel White offered by such scurrilous sources as this site and the Associated Press, have been dismissed by certain members of the local media, almost as quickly as the Browns have dismissively waved off the numerous tidbits that have made their way onto the national scene.

So ludicrous is the thought of trading Tim Couch, the Browns couldn't even begin to consider trading the franchise quarterback. It won't happen because the Cleveland Browns said so, and that is as good a reason as any to dismiss the notion when dissecting what this team will do on draft day. After all, this Browns team is known for their open, honest, and upfront approach with the media and fans. Right?

Right. Get outside of the box and see what is really happening here, folks.

"Experts" or certain beat-writers that follow the team have executed their duty as responsible journalists to dispel Browns pre-draft rumors. (Note the sarcasm please). Offering that most incidents, discussions, or even INTERNET rumors regarding talks between the Browns and teams haven't happened at all - they happily label the rumors as bogus, hogwash, or absurd. "No names please" (as I happen to remember from a classic radio show that ran into the Cleveland area for many years). We'll leave the matter as that.

From what we've been told, here is the latest on the rumored trades the Browns have discussed:

The potential of trading Tim Couch: While discussions have taken place regarding quarterback Tim Couch, it does not appear that the Browns will deal the signal-caller. Salary concerns are a major issue for teams interested in the quarterback. We have received conflicting source information on Couch - from the team wanting a first round selection in exchange for the player to the Browns being willing to deal him for a second round pick. One aspect that we are confident in is that the team has discussed trading the four-year veteran.

The potential of trading Jamel White: The availability of running back Jamel White remains in question. As many as three teams have talked to the Browns about trading for White, but from what we've been told the Browns are looking for a second or third round draft selection and teams have balked at the price. Activity should continue while the draft is in progress regarding White. The phones will continue to ring tomorrow.

The potential of trading other players: Indications from our sources tell us that the Browns have conducted other discussions about potentially available players from the active roster. At this time we have not been able to solidly confirm the identification of the said players.

From what we've been told, this is what we have learned from league and team sources, solely regarding the college players:

Trading up is still being discussed: The Browns have discussed options with teams that could land the Browns a draft selection in the top 5 picks in the draft to select a defensive tackle, cornerback Terence Newman, and perhaps more interesting, wide receiver Andre Johnson.

If that isn't enough for a pure Browns enthusiast, the Browns have discussed the possibility to get a pick in the top 10 to select either offensive tackle Jordan Gross or cornerback Marcus Trufant.

Also, proving the Browns haven't been asleep at the wheel in the days leading up to the draft, they continued to discuss options as of Friday to measure the potential of trading up within the top 15 selections to make a run at linebacker Boss Bailey. Also discussions place the Browns looking at a offensive lineman, possibly within the top 15 picks in the draft.Eric Steinbach or a defensive tackle that we haven't confirmed with a name at the time of this writing.

The difference between talking and acting: The Browns have been active in the days leading up to the draft. Activity does not mean that the Browns are going to be a wheeling and dealing bunch of executives on draft day, but their preparation is unquestioned. This can be stated with certainty: Butch Davis, Pete Garcia, and the scouting department of the Browns has been at work for months. They have virtually visited every college function known to man, from the obvious to the obscure.

Along the way, we have had the opportunity to speak with some of the players the team has scouted, we have spoken with numerous scouts and coaches in attendance, and in some cases utilized some significant contacts close to the team for information.

One thing that you learn as you talk to all of these people is that teams utilize the media to send messages, many times that exist in order to disguise their true intentions.

Indications from sources lead us to believe that the Browns have closed in on offensive linemen Jordan Gross and Eric Steinbach, cornerbacks Marcus Trufant and Terence Newman, and linebackers Boss Bailey and E.J Henderson.

Quiet has been the talk of defensive line, quarterback, and tight-end positions.

When playing through the scenarios, the Browns most likely would need to trade up in the draft for Newman, Gross, Trufant, and Bailey. Steinbach and Henderson may be available when the Browns select with the 21st pick in the draft, and barring a trade this may be the best option for the team.

Then a dose of reality hit me and I couldn't get defensive tackle William Joseph from Miami or Jeff Faine, the center from Notre Dame out of my mind.

Then again, while flipping through the local radio stations, I heard some old crooners from days gone-bye, then I thought, is this must be a sign and Sammy Davis could still be on the draft board.

I'm glad the draft only occurs once a year. Anything more would be excessive.


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