Passan: Man on a Mission

We are four days away from the draft. The clock is ticking loudly for Phil Savage...

You're Phil Savage. And as general manager of the Cleveland Browns, you face an awesome task this weekend.

As caretaker of the fortunes of the Browns and the health and welfare of their hundreds of thousands of fans all around the planet, you are aware that your job this weekend is to paint the future of the franchise.

Yep, the college draft is finally here and you are stoked. All that work of the last nine months becomes reality Saturday. You are all set. That initial list of more than 1,100 names has been whittled to around 140.

It will be time to grab that draft brush and paint hope on that palette, paint a picture so pretty, you will be praised to the heavens. Your ego will climb to heights you never dreamed of.

Oh, there will be the usual last-minute doubts as the big weekend draws closer. You will check, double check, triple check and cross check with your scouts and coaching staff throughout the week.

But you'll stay busy. Make the time fly. You know you can't relax. Because if you do, the week will go so slowly, you'll think time is being kept by a sundial.

However, you are certain of one thing: The Cleveland Browns will be a better team in 2006 than 2005. The team you envisioned when you took over as GM 16 months ago will come more clearly into focus. You realize a corner is about to be turned.

You know exactly what needs to be done. You know your team's strengths and weaknesses.

You feel comfortable with the offensive line since bringing LeCharles Bentley and Kevin Shaffer to town. There's no need to buttress the receiving corps with Joe Jurevicius playing in front of the home folks. And having Dave Zastudil handle the punting allows you the luxury of looking at more pressing needs.

You've got your quarterback of the future in Charlie Frye. You know it's his job to lose this summer and you're not worried.

However, you know your team must stop the run to be effective. Make that second-down yardage grow and force the opposition to throw more.

You know it is imperative to create a fierce pass rush; that opposing quarterbacks don't have to be knocked on their keisters. Just make them throw before they want to. That's just as effective as dumping them on their rear ends.

You know that defense is the backbone of a winning football team. You know that a great defense, especially one that creates turnovers, can take a team to a Super Bowl championship. You know because that's exactly what your Baltimore Ravens did in 2000.

You also have an edge in connecting with Browns fans. You've been here before and know what these people think, how they feel, what makes them tick. You know what this weekend means to them.

The suffering has gone on too long for Cleveland pro football fans. You know it. You've seen it etched on their faces, especially after that Pittsburgh debacle late last season. You still can't get that game out of your mind.

The misery that accompanied that loss will last for a long time. It was obvious when you held your final draft get-together with the media last week.

You scored major points by saying that every player you get in the draft Saturday will be picked with beating Pittsburgh in mind. You can't imagine how well that was received in Browns Nation. Then again, maybe you can.

But you also realize there are 14 other games on the schedule and beating the Baltimores and Cincinnatis of the world carries just as much importance.

So as you wind down the next few days, you allow yourself to dream. Dream of that day at Cleveland Browns Stadium when you hoist a banner signifying the fruits of your labor.

It's draft week and you are utterly and completely prepared. The war room awaits you.

You're Phil Savage, general manager of the Cleveland Browns. And you're a man on a mission.

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