Derry: A Draft for Every Taste

The long-time Browns watcher offers his thoughts about Savage's big weekend...

How do you satisfy the appetites of thousands of starving Browns fans, all of whom have their own recipe on how to cook up success for their favorite football team.

It's a tough task, but one that Browns general manager Phil Savage seems to have accomplished with this year's draft.

First, he served up a huge helping of meat and potatoes, with a side of corn, followed by a big slice of apple pie, thus satisfying the traditionalists who believe that it's what's up front that count.

Then, for those finicky eaters, the ones who enjoy the glitz of a five-star restaurant, Savage trotted out the Blue Fin Tuna appetizer, Breese Pigeon with Tarte Tatin of Shallot, ragout of Girolles in Girolle Sauce as the entree, followed by a warm chocolate tartlet for dessert.

That, in a nutshell, describes how Savage was able to satisfy the whims of nearly everyone on the first day of this year's draft.

For many years, some of us have been clamoring for Browns management to build a strong foundation by drafting offensive linemen. Savage finally quenched that burning desire by selecting big Joe Thomas, left tackle from the University of Wisconsin, with the team's first choice, third overall.

Thomas is as blue-collar as they come. His lunch pail is filled with bologna sandwiches, a couple of apples and some good, old-fashioned toll house cookies.

Of course, not everyone was happy with the first selection, some doubting Thomases, if you will, because they saw glamour boy Brady Quinn sitting on the buffet table.

While Thomas was off fishing with his friends and family, Quinn was constantly shown on national television smiling from ear to ear while surrounded by his beautiful mother and blonde girl friend.

When JaMarcus Russell and Calvin Johnson went one-two to Oakland and Detroit, respectively, Quinn fans were drooling with anticipation of the Browns gobbling up a high-profile quarterback who had expressed the pre-draft desire to play for his favorite pro team.  

Quinn could hardly contain his excitement as the 15-minute clock began to tick down for the Browns, who had done a masterful job of keeping their plans as secret as grandma's tomato sauce recipe.

One loud-mouth local radio Know It All could be heard for days leading up to the draft saying that he knew for a fact that if indeed Quinn was on the board, the Notre Dame quarterback would be the player selected by the Browns.

It goes without saying that he, along with the entire ESPN crew of "experts," were choking on their words when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the Browns had landed Thomas.

The crow-eaters were stunned but, unfortunately, not speechless.

The experts immediately began throwing rotten eggs at Savage, who they thought had let the cake flop. They surmised that Savage was spooked into taking Thomas, who was the "safe" pick at No. 3.

After all, 50 percent of all quarterbacks selected in the first round of the draft never really make a difference in the NFL. For every John Elway, there is at least one Tim Couch.

The success rate for first-round left tackles is higher, but certainly not a given. Just ask the Oakland Raiders, who thought Robert Gallery was the second coming of Anthony Munoz when they took him with the second overall choice in the 2004 draft.

He's no Tony Mandarich, one of the all-time biggest first-round busts, but at this point there's no way Gallery will ever get into the Hall of Fame without a ticket.

Not only did many experts scoff at the Browns' selection of Thomas, but quite a few fans – not as many as you might imagine, but still a good portion of Browns nation – wanted the quarterback as well.

As round after round went by and Quinn's smile and suit began to wilt under television's bright lights, rumors began circulating that the Browns were attempting to move back into the first round.

Longtime Browns radio voice Jim Donovan, who obviously has some excellent inside sources, was probably the first to mention that the Browns had been talking for some time to the Cowboys about the No. 22 overall spot.

Browns defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has his eyes focused upon a defensive back who the team thought might be on the board when the Cowboys drafted, thus the reason for the pre-draft planning.

When that back was selected a couple of spots before the Cowboys' turn, and Quinn was still on the board, the talks heated up again, but for a totally different reason.

Savage, who was reportedly told by owner Randy Lerner to do everything in his power to "win now," jumped at the opportunity to trade his second-rounder this year and first-rounder in 2008 to get Quinn.

Thus, Browns fans who were disappointed with the selection of Thomas, were smiling like kids in a candy shore when the team picked Quinn.

It was a huge gamble, one that will either make or break Phil Savage as the general manager. Unlss the Bowns turn things around, there's a possibility the Cowboys will get a top five pick as a result, but Savage had little choice.

This team has been stuck in mud since returning in 1999. Now, there are a couple of rays of sunshine that should, if things go as expected, make for a much brighter future for this organization for the next decade.

Thomas and Quinn are the key ingredients in what Savage and Browns fans everywhere hope will become a prize-winning recipe.

Now, it's time for Chef Romeo Crennel and his assistants to blend it all together and cook up a team capable of making a playoff run.

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