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Browns' choice with No. 3 pick still a mystery

Browns' choice with No. 3 pick still a mystery

Browns' choice with No. 3 pick still a mystery
By: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

BEREA, Ohio - Dressed in a dark sport coat inscribed with "BROWNS" on the right breast pocket, Cleveland general manager Phil Savage kept his plans for the upcoming NFL draft close to the metaphorical vest.

Seated at a poker table, Savage would be a tough guy to read.

Preparing for his third - and most vital - draft as Cleveland's GM, Savage revealed little about what he might do with the No. 3 overall pick. During a 1-hour, 20-minute news conference, Savage was careful not to tip his hand.

Will the Browns trade up? Possibly.

Will the Browns trade down? Maybe.

Will the Browns stay put? Might.

About the only thing Savage made clear was that if the Browns decide to stay in the third slot, they'll chose from a group of five players who have become the consensus cream of this year's draft crop.

The Fab Five consists of quarterbacks JaMarcus Russell of LSU and Brady Quinn of Notre Dame, wide receiver Calvin Johnson of Georgia Tech, offensive tackle Joe Thomas of Wisconsin and running back Adrian Peterson of Oklahoma. All are considered can't-miss prospects by draft gurus, scouts and front-office types.

"As it sits today, if nothing were to happen, we're going to get one of those five players," he said. "How that shakes out, I don't think we'll know that until draft day, specifically once we go on the clock."

This year's draft holds more intrigue than many in recent history, primarily because of the uncertainty at the top. Oakland owns the No. 1 pick but it's still unclear which way the Raiders are leaning. At No. 2 sits Detroit, and as GM Matt Millen has shown in past drafts, guessing what the Lions will do is next to impossible.

The Browns are followed by Tampa Bay and Arizona. All five teams have different needs and may go different routes to fill them.

"I think any of the five could go any direction," Savage said. "It's going to be fun to see how it turns out."

Of the top five players, Johnson is the only one yet to visit the Browns, who expect to host him sometime later this week.

This is the second time in three years, and the fifth time since 1999, that the Browns have picked in the top three. Two years ago, the club nabbed wide receiver Braylon Edwards third overall.

Savage said this year's elite group of players is better than the one he had to chose from in 2005.

"We'll see how history plays itself out, but I do think this is a stronger top 5 than two years ago. You hear that last year Brady Quinn would have been the fourth quarterback taken. Maybe. Maybe not. In '05, he might have been the first player taken. I do think this might be a little more spectacular top 5."

While the Browns plot their own draft board, they're trying to be prepared for the many scenarios that could pop up when commissioner Roger Goodell informs the Raiders that their 15 minutes of fame have arrived.

Savage doesn't have a solid feel for what the black-and-silver intend to do. He's guessing they'll focus on Russell and Quinn or maybe Johnson, widely considered the best player in this year's class.

"Or they might trade out," said Savage, who was asked if the Raiders and Lions might be agreeable to dealing with the Browns. "I would say that they are willing to listen. We're willing to listen, too. One of the GMs e-mailed me yesterday and I said that we were open for anything. I think that's part of the process right now."

Savage spent a portion of the news conference gushing about Johnson, the 6-foot-5 freakishly fast wideout who dazzled scouts by being timed in 4.35 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine.

Savage also noted Johnson's vertical jump (42.5 inches) and broad jump (11-foot-7) before listing reasons why the Browns might pick him.

www.bgnews.com

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