Commentary: Too High a Price?

David Carducci offers his viewpoint on today's trade activity with this analysis of the trades the Browns executed to land TE Kellen Winslow. Hard-hitting commentary from one of Bernie's Insiders.<br><br><I>Dave's commentary appears courtesy of the Ravenna Record-Courier</I>

BEREA - When is the price of adding a hall-of-fame caliber talent too high?

The Cleveland Browns believe they found that future hall-of-famer Saturday, selecting 'lightning-rod' University of Miami tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft. But to get him, the Browns were forced to dramatically overpay in a draft-day trade, flip-flopping picks with the Detroit Lions and moving up just one spot.

It was a classic example of panic by Browns head coach Butch Davis.

When Davis woke up Saturday morning, his thoughts immediately fixated on three names - Iowa tackle Robert Gallery, Miami safety Sean Taylor and Winslow.

He was not prepared to return home that night without owning the rights to one of those players.

As Gallery and Taylor fell off the board, the Lions found the perfect opportunity to turn up the heat under the Browns and the coach known for making impulsive decisions based on emotion and instinct.

Within minutes of going on the clock with the No. 6 overall pick, Lions president Matt Millen fielded a series of phone calls from the Browns' Berea war room.

To move down from sixth to seventh in round one, Davis initially offered the Lions additional picks in the fourth and fifth rounds.

Millen declined.

Davis quickly called back, this time dangling a valuable second-round pick as extra incentive for the Lions to move down.

Millen knew he had the Browns right where he wanted them. Like a poker player hoping to lure his opponent 'all-in', Millen asked Davis for even more. When Davis declined, Browns owner Randy Lerner said Millen 'never blinked' in quickly accepting the Browns offer of first and second-round picks.

Millen didn't blink in making the decision because he knew he was getting far more than the typical NFL team would ever give up for the right to move up just one spot in an NFL draft.

According to the draft-value chart assigning a point value to every draft pick and used by all NFL teams, moving up one pick would usually cost about 100 points. For example, if the Lions No. 6 pick was valued at 1,700 points and the Browns No. 7 pick was worth 1,600, the Browns would owe the Lions a pick worth 100 points.

The Browns second-round pick, No. 37 overall, was worth 520 points.

In other words, the Lions took advantage of the Browns.

Add in the fact that the Lions drafted the player they wanted all along with the Browns No. 7 pick - Texas wide receiver Roy Williams - and they completely hit the jackpot.

The Browns asked the Lions who they planned to take if they stayed at No. 6, 'and they actually indicated and said that (Winslow) was who they were going to take and that's why the compensation was maybe a little bit higher than people would have thought,' said Davis.

Big shock. Who would have ever guessed Millen would bluff in an attempt to improve his negotiating position?

In reality, the Lions had Williams rated higher than Winslow on their draft board, and according to several leaks out of Detroit, probably would have taken the speedy wide receiver at No. 6 to complement their injury-prone No. 2 overall pick of last year, Charles Rogers.

Panic may have cost the Browns an opportunity to get Winslow and still keep their second-round pick.

In some ways, Davis' panic is understandable. He has long coveted a Winslow type - a versatile, impact tight end to stretch the middle of the field and take some of the teeth out of the dreaded cover-two defense.

He also still feels the sting of missing out on a similar tight end from Miami two years ago when the New York Giants traded ahead of the Browns to steal away Jeremy Shockey.

But by overvaluing the tight end position, Davis continued the Browns disturbing trend of undervaluing the offensive line. In the six years since their return to the NFL, the Browns have drafted only two offensive linemen high than the sixth round. Both were centers - Jeff Faine (first in 2003) and Melvin Fowler (third in 2002).

The Browns have only selected two tackles in the last six years, and they were seventh rounders - Joaquin Gonzalez in 2002 and the unforgettable Manuia Savea in 2000.

The highest pick used on a guard during that stretch was a sixth rounder - Brad Bedell in 2000.

The Browns could have added an impact player like Williams or even Winslow by standing pat with the No. 7 pick and added a quality second-round lineman like Southern California tackle Jacob Rogers or Georgia Tech tackle Nat Dorsey.

Even after trading back into the second round with Indianapolis Saturday night, the Browns again passed on addressing the offensive line, instead taking Georgia safety Sean Jones with the 59th overall pick.

With no third-round selection Saturday and only a fourth, late fifth, late sixth and early seventh-round pick remaining today and very little depth in this year's tackle and guard classes, count on yet another draft going by without the Browns improving their dreadful offensive line play.

That cost to get Winslow may prove too high.

The OBR Top Stories