BEREA – Browns general manager Phil Savage addressed the media and gave his pre-draft assessment of the 2006 NFL Draft.
Savage said he and his staff are more than ready for the annual event that will take place on April 29-30.
"This draft is an important one for us," Savage said. "For three reasons. First, it is the next step in the process of rebuilding the team. We want to do that from the inside out.
"Second, it is the opportunity to fill the holes on the squad and play off what we did in free agency. Thirdly, this is our second year as a staff and we can be more specific on how certain players will fit our system and scheme. I think we'll have an overall improved circumstance."
Savage said the Browns started with 1128 names and whittled that down to 350 by December. He said by the combine they were down to 190 and they came out of the last meeting with 140 players.
"There are about 80 players we feel can come in and help us," Savage said. "It's more a process of elimination."
Savage said it has been his experience that once they've identified their list of players, they usually are able to get them.
"There has only been one time where we drafted one player outside the 150 on the list," Savage said. "We should be able to draft the seven guys who are on our list."
Savage said he knows the Browns can't solve all their problems with one pick in the draft.
"One player can't solve three positions," he said. "You can't fill three needs with one pick. Only one player can fill one hole. As much as we would like to get two or three guys, we're going to only get one."
Savage was asked if his philosophy is to draft by need or the best available player.
"The question that is always asked is best available or need," he said. "Hopefully, it's a combination of the two. You want the best available for your team. There are immediate needs and secondary needs."
Savage said the Browns priorities have remained the same throughout the off-season.
"The pass rush, the run defense and scoring more points are still the important areas," he said. "And can the guy help us beat Pittsburgh."
Savage did indicate there's a good chance the Browns will go for the front seven on defense with the first pick.
"It would be a good guess," he said. "Since the pass rush and run defense are all front seven players."
So why do the Browns think they're ready for a solid draft.
"Being together for an entire year has made things very clear," Personnel Director Bill Rees said. "Drafting for the 3-4 defense is difficult. Re-learning some of the techniques and needs of that defense has been important. The scouts have been able to get on the same page as what Romeo (Crennel) wants."
Rees admitted the Browns evaluate defensive players different than many of the teams that run the conventional 4-3 defense.
"Our boards might not look like other team's boards because we're looking for some specific things," Rees said.
"The GM and the head coach are on the same page," he said. "We have the same system. The staff cares and all our scouts care how the team is doing. We have a committed group and see a philosophy and plan on what we want to see unfold. I like the togetherness of our group and everyone can bring something to the table."