The Owl is On the Clock

...and his pick at the #3 position may surprise you.

It is 12:35 p.m. Saturday.

The 49ers have selected quarterback Alex Smith from Utah with the first pick in the draft and the Buccaneers have taken quarterback Aaron Rodgers after making a trade with the Dolphins for the second pick.

The Browns are on the clock. Their phones at team headquarters in Berea are ringing like crazy because Michigan wide receiver Braylon Edwards and Auburn running back Ronnie Brown are still available.

In a stunning development, Phil Savage calls on The Owl for advice. Only 10 minutes remain in the Browns allotted 15 minutes.

"I'm flattered, Phil, but what I usually do is hoot my opinion after the fact. It's a lot easier to be right that way."

"I hear you, but I need to know now. Should we trade it? Should we pick Edwards? Should we pick Brown?"

"Well, if I were the G.M., Phil, I'd trade the pick if I could stay in the top-10 and get another second-round pick. You could repair a lot of damage with three picks in the top-45."

"And if we can't make the deal? Brown or Edwards? C'mon. We're running out of time."

"Everybody says you're going to take Edwards. I say you should pick Ron Brown. If he's the best running back in the draft, you have to ask yourself this question: Is he better than Reuben Droughns and Lee Suggs? If he is, you take him. If not, pick Edwards."

The Owl did some research on this subject and discovered the top four receivers in the AFC played for teams that did not make the playoffs in 2004. It is only slightly better in the NFC, where three of the top four receivers played for teams that missed the post-season,

It is just the opposite at running back. Five of the top six running backs last year played for teams that made the playoffs. Shaun Alexander, the leading rusher in the NFC, took the Seahawks to the playoffs.

A running back will always have a bigger impact than a receiver would on a team. The Browns situation is a little unique because of Droughns and Suggs and because they do not have a No. 1 receiver to draw coverage away from Kellen Winslow Jr. Antonio Bryant certainly is not that player.

Edwards and Winslow could be fantastic together, and if both are team players they should not mind sharing the football if the Browns win. Still, Phil is asking for the advice, and the Owl says go with the running back - if you cannot make a trade.

If the trade is made and Brown is gone, Savage would probably have the chance to draft Mike Williams, the wide receiver from USC who was forced to sit out last year. As an aside on the Williams deal, everybody is saying he didn't do anything wrong when he left college last year after his sophomore season. He just followed Maurice Clarett thinking the courts would allow him to turn pro .

The fact is Williams was being greedy, thinking of himself instead of the USC Trojans. They won the national championship without him, which was good to see.

Back to the draft; if the Browns can stay in the top eight by trading with Arizona, which has the eighth pick, they should be able to get Williams, a quarterback with their own second-round pick - Jason Campbell of Auburn would fit well here - and a linebacker or defensive end with the second-round pick acquired for the third overall.

Fans are focused on the first pick. That's going to be the easy one for Savage, whether the Browns stay at three or slide down a little.

Savage needs to hit on virtually every pick to get the Browns back on the right track. Certainly, there is room on a 4-12 team for the first three picks to start as rookies, unless one of them is a quarterback.

They do not have to be star players out of the box, but we'd like to see signs of potential success in the 2005.

Remember, Phil. Think Ronnie Brown first.

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