As the draft draws nearer it is worth noting just how differently the Browns' front office is structured and therefore, theoretically anyway, more prepared for the draft than they were a year ago.
Perhaps the key point is that Cleveland has 10 draft picks. At this point a year ago they had only five picks in the 2009 draft, and that includes the second-round pick from Tampa Bay in the trade that sent Kellen Winslow Jr. to the Buccaneers. That trade included a fifth-round pick in the 2010 draft.
The biggest difference, though, is in the people making the draft choices. Last year George Kokinis supposedly was running the draft, but he contends coach Eric Mangini usurped his authority from the beginning and took over the show.
Kokinis took the matter to the NFL when the Browns fired him and ended up with a tidy settlement of around $2 million. None of that matters heading into this draft. What matters is that no matter who was running the draft in 2009, whether it was Kokinis or Mangini, neither had done it before. Experience is not a problem this time around.
The Browns had a team president last year, Mike Keenan. He stayed away from the football operation to run the business side. There is no comparison between Keenan and Mike Holmgren, who as president assumed Keenan's duties as well as running the entire football operation.
Tom Heckert, the general manager, is in charge of the draft for the Browns. He and Holmgren, along with Mangini, have been very busy. Heckert was the general manager of the Eagles the last four years. Coach Andy Reid had the final say on draft picks in Philadelphia, but Heckert ran the draft. Heckert runs the draft and has final say in Cleveland, and this time Mangini is happy to have someone else in charge.
Heckert won't put a timetable on how long it will take to turn the Browns around, but this is a team in serious need of turning; they have had only two winning seasons in 11 years -- 2002 and 2007 -- and have not won a playoff game since the franchise was restored in 1999.
"We never really kind of had that exact conversation, 'Next year we're (going to the playoffs),'" Heckert said. "We want to win the Super Bowl. That's obviously the goal of all of us. I didn't come here not to be in the playoffs. There's no question about that. If I'm correct, I think in my 19 years I think I've had one losing season. I think that's the case. Obviously winning's a lot more fun than losing. That's our goal, is to get this thing into at least a winning record here as soon as possible."
Mangini is staying in the background, but he has not been muted in the preparation for the draft or free agency. The Browns turned their quarterback pool upside down by jettisoning Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson and acquiring Seneca Wallace and Jake Delhomme. Holmgren took the lead on Delhomme and Wallace, but Mangini had a part in the deals.
Holmgren said he would never acquire through free agency or the draft a player Mangini does not want.