By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor
Tom Heckert acknowledges that the Browns face as vitally important a draft as any they’ve had in recent memory.
The Browns’ general manager also points out that pressure is a constant companion for him and the rest of the team’s player-personnel staff.
He’s absolutely right. Whether the Browns were 4-12 or 12-4 last season, the chore of making them better for 2012 would be huge. Expectations never get smaller.
Obviously, there is a great deal of frustration among the fan base over the team’s prolonged playoff drought and mediocrity, and that clearly ramps up the feeling that Heckert and the Browns’ other talent-evaluators have to get this draft right. That is especially true with the club owning the fourth and 22nd overall picks. But …
“I think we always have pressure,” Heckert told me on “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” Thursday.
Yet, he fully understands what must happen.
“We have to come through with the young players,” Heckert said. “Our philosophy in the organization is to build through the draft, so obviously we have to do well. So I don’t think there’s any added pressure, but we need to add young players to this team and we do have to improve. Obviously (4-12) is not going to cut it, and we all know it. So it’s a draft where we expect guys to come in here and help us win games.”
There are a couple of massive challenges facing the Browns in this draft beyond getting the premium choices right.
One, they must choose between needs and best players available. This year, the brunt of the needs clearly exist on offense, particularly with defense being emphasized in the last two Browns drafts. The second challenge is not being so focused on the fourth overall choice that the remaining 12 picks are treated as something less than critically important.
“Obviously, we do have to help ourselves on offense because these last two years we kind of went the defense route,” Heckert said. “But I think you have to look throughout the whole draft. You can’t just focus on the first pick or the first two picks. To say we need first-round players at every position on offense, I just don’t think that’s the case. We can’t obviously take defensive players in the first three picks; we just can’t do that.
“But can we take one defensive player in there? I think we can, and still come out with enough offensive players to help us on offense. So I think there’s a fine line but you still can’t go away from your philosophy of taking a need position over a good football player. I don’t believe in it.”
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