Fast Lane: Trade conversations continue

The Browns are working the phones ahead and behind them in the draft as Thursday approaches. Here's the latest in a special free "Fast Lane".

As Thursday night speeds towards us, teams are talking, teams are investigating, and teams are evaluating opportunities. The draft plan for the Browns could be coming to light.

Over the past 48 hours, the Browns have spoken to a significant number of teams, both ahead AND behind them in the NFL draft, gauging the landscape for potential movement when the clock starts ticking Thursday evening.

— The Browns have a legitimate interest in moving up in the draft, if the price is not prohibitive. Speaking with every team (other than one) in gauging the market, the Browns have come away believing opportunities are present. This is especially true at slots four and five, where the Browns believe the cost to trade up is dropping.

— Due to the Browns inability to stop the run a season ago, much of the focus has been about putting Cleveland and Washington NT Danny Shelton together. The Browns believe Shelton is the top nose tackle in the draft, but not necessarily the best player available, as they mock the draft scenarios.

Depending on how the draft falls, Shelton may be off the board when the Browns are on the clock. Various scenarios have Shelton going anywhere from selection seven to selection nineteen. Yes, nineteen. Shelton wouldn’t get past Cleveland in that spot.

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— The Browns are learning an attempt to move to the fourth or fifth overall selections in the draft would be far less expensive than the top spots in the draft. The Browns continue to seek the ability to retain their second pick in the first round in any deal.

— Numerous teams are calling the Tennessee Titans bluff about Oregon QB Marcus Mariota, and are waiting and expecting to see the Titans select defensive lineman Leonard Williams.

— As it stands today, the Browns will not be dealing with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars have been playing it close to the vest with pass rusher Vic Beasley or Williams being their perceived guy — but speaking with an agent, theOBR has been told WR Amari Cooper is also in play for them.

— Teams selecting ahead of the Browns in the draft are of the belief the Browns focus is on playmaker types at the wide receiver and pass rusher positions. TheOBR has been told Amari Cooper is the number one receiver on the Browns draft-board, with Kevin White and DeVante Parker ranked as "1a-".

— If the beginning of the draft takes an unexpected twist, the Browns will quickly look at defensive lineman Leonard Williams. Williams is the highest rated lineman on the board.

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— Despite the perceived need for a quarterback, the Browns do not believe this is a strong QB class and is full of players requiring significant time and work. This isn’t to say the Browns aren’t looking at the available quarterbacks... they have.

— A league-wide sentiment is that the Browns are waiting in the wings to make a move on QB Marcus Mariota. As it stands, the Browns interest in Mariota is legitimate, but all indications are the Browns will not make a move to the second spot in the draft to secure his services. The asking price of two first round selections and no less than an additional selection makes the move cost-prohibitive for Cleveland.

Being said, if Mariota slides past Tennessee, then Browns will again seriously entertain the notion of moving on the QB. The belief is Oakland at number-four and Washington at number-five would be willing to trade back with a team seeking Mariota.

For the Browns, anything Mariota depends on the player not going as the number two overall selection. If he does, things get interesting.

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