Taylor: Draft Smoke Beginning to Clear?

Per league insiders, the Browns draft direction is starting to take shape. What is it? The OBR's John Taylor has been working the phones, and has the early answers...

With a mere 17 days left until the start of the first round of the 2010 NFL draft, there are, based on conversations with those inside and outside the organization, seemingly a couple of near certainties when it comes to the direction the Browns will go in the first two rounds if – stress the word "if" here – things shake out as somewhat expected.

The first near certainty is that Tennessee safety Eric Berry will be the Browns' first-round selection if he's still on the board and if the Browns remain in the No. 7 hole.

The second?  If Colt McCoy is available at No. 38 in the second round – and Mike Holmgren's publicly stating that a second-round QB isn't likely in the cards notwithstanding – the Texas quarterback will be wearing Orange & Brown in 2010.  Again, based on how insiders and league observers are reading the tea leaves right now.

-- Of course, the above is predicated on both players being available – and the club's draft board still looking the way it does right now – when the Browns are on the clock.  The odds of both of those happening?  Not good.  Odds of one of those scenarios playing itself out in just that manner?  A little better.  In fact, the odds, according to those around the league, of neither player being available when the Browns are up in the first and second rounds are much better than either of the other two scenarios.  Which leads us to…

--  Trading up and/or down in this draft is something the Browns will look at very intently, admittedly more so the latter than the former when it comes to the first round.  If, for example, the Browns catch wind of some club eying McCoy toward the latter half of round one, it's highly likely they would look to use their draft-pick ammunition to move up.  Whether they could be successful, however, is another story entirely.

-- And, speaking of trading up, whither Sam Bradford?  He's a quarterback that Holmgren and the Browns really like, but probably not enough to expend draft picks and/or players on in order to move into the No. 1 slot.  If, though, he were to slide because it's learned in the days leading up to the draft that he was the co-founder and an active participant in the United States Puppy-Kicking League, things would get interesting the further down he slid.

-- Now, getting back to Berry and the No. 7 pick.  If he's off the board, you can look for Texas safety Earl Thomas and Penn State defensive lineman Jared Odrick – thanks for the thunder stealing, Mr. Grossi – might be possibilities.  (Odrick, incidentally, would more likely be a target in a trade-down situation.)  Or, as mentioned before, they could look to trade out and gobble up some additional picks by trading with a team like the Buffalo Bills at No. 9 and the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 10, who sources have pinpointed as the most likely candidates to move up in round one.

-- Also, I would not completely rule out Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen, even given Holmgren's very public inability to like the kid.  There's just too much chatter connecting Clausen to the Browns to totally dismiss it as simply pre-draft smoke, especially in the wake of the Philadelphia Eagles' stunning decision to trade Donovan McNabb to divisional rival Washington Redskins.  Before the Easter trade, it looked like a very real possibility that Clausen would be off the board by the time the Browns' turn came up due to the rumored Redskins interest at No. 4; now, it's very possible/probable that he's there for Cleveland's taking.  If his former college coach, Charlie Weis, can't convince his new employers, the Kansas City Chiefs, to grab him at five of course.

-- In the end, this could be a very straightforward first two days of the draft for the Browns organization if the dominoes fall in a certain way.  If not?  It will be as convoluted a 24-hour period as this club has seen in a very long time.  And that's saying something.

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