Browns general manager Phil Savage is convinced the Browns will have more quality choices when they pick third in the draft this year than when they were in the same slot in 2005.
Two years ago the Browns drafted wide receiver Braylon Edwards from Michigan after the 49ers chose quarterback Alex Smith and Miami drafted running back Ronnie Brown. Edwards has 93 catches and nine touchdowns in two years.
"We'll see how history plays out," Savage said. "I do think this might be a more spectacular top five than two years ago.
"You hear last year Brady Quinn would have been the fourth quarterback taken. Maybe, maybe not. In '05, he might have been the first player taken in the whole draft."
Quinn, the quarterback from Notre Dame, is one of five players the Browns are considering taking in the first round. The others are Louisiana State quarterback JaMarcus Russell, Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson, Wisconsin tackle Joe Thomas and Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson. All five have visited the Browns' training facility this month.
Savage said he does not know who Oakland will pick first or what Detroit will do with the second pick. That also is contrary to 2005, when the 49ers let it be known they were going to draft Smith.
"There's a lot of intrigue in this draft," Savage said. "All the teams up there -- Oakland, Detroit, ourselves, Tampa, Arizona -- any of the five can go in any direction. It will be fun to see how it turns out."
Savage said the Browns would be more likely to trade down than trade up if they do not stay at three, adding they would get a quality player picking anywhere in the top 15. He said groundwork for a potential trade would be made before the draft.
"You have to put it in the pot and let it cook for a while before it happens," Savage said.
This is the third draft for the Savage-Romeo Crennel tandem. The 2006 draft was more productive than in 2005, yet the Browns went backward, finishing 4-12 in 2006 after ending up 6-10 the previous year.
With all the attention being directed at the first pick, Savage said the second round pick, 36th overall, also has to be on the mark.
If the Browns take a quarterback or Peterson first they could take an offensive lineman or cornerback second. Both areas are positions of need, and as it works out they are among the deepest positions in the draft. Conversely, Savage said running back is not deep. After Russell and Quinn the next group of quarterbacks is projected as late second or early third-round picks.
The cornerback situation symbolizes the slow building process Savage is involved with. Leigh Bodden will start at left corner. Gary Baxter is making progress from tearing both patellar tendons, but he cannot be penciled in as a starter. That means the Browns would like to get a starting cornerback in the draft, but there are no guarantees.
"If we don't find a corner that can play fairly early we'll have to play with the guys we have," Savage said. "We might have seven, eight, nine, 10 holes, but we have only five fingers or so.
"Every time we break from our offensive or defensive meetings, the message has been 'Guys, get your minds acclimated to the fact you might have to play with what we have. We have to make that work."
Savage: "A More Spectacular Top Five"
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