BEREA, Ohio (AP) -The Cleveland Browns finally landed a big one.
Wisconsin offensive lineman Joe Thomas, who skipped a trip to New York to go fishing with his father and friends on Saturday, was selected with the No. 3 pick in the NFL draft, finally giving the Browns a premier left tackle.
The 6-foot-6, 311-pound Thomas should help the Browns improve a dreadful running game that was the league's worst last season. He'll likely play alongside guard Eric Steinbach, who signed a seven-year, $49.5 million free agent contract with the Browns in March.
Thomas had no interest in joining the other top picks at New York's Radio City Music Hall, choosing instead to spend a day fishing with his dad, future father-in-law and others on Lake Michigan - outside of Port Washington, Wis.
``We got a big one on,'' Thomas said excitedly from aboard the Foxy Lady, moments before his fishing party reeled in, of all things, a brown trout. How perfect.
The Browns used most of their allotted 15 minutes on the clock before announcing their selection of Thomas, a choice that surprised many, including Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn, who was hoping to play for the team he grew up rooting for.
Cleveland hadn't used a first-round pick on a tackle since 1970 when the Browns took Bob McKay from Texas.
``It didn't surprise me,'' Thomas said of being snagged by the Browns, who went 4-12 last season. ``I hoped for a few months that Cleveland would pick me. They showed a lot of interest in me all the way along.''
The club also decided to pass on Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson, whose stock began slipping this week when it was revealed that he re-injured his collarbone in the Sooners' Fiesta Bowl loss to Boise State.
With Thomas coming in, the Browns will have to decide what to do with starting left tackle Kevin Shaffer, who signed a six-year, $36 million deal in 2006.
While other highly drafted offensive tackles such as Oakland's Robert Gallery haven't lived up to expectations, Thomas is convinced he will be someone the Browns can count on for many seasons to come.
``To get a tackle in the top five, there was a good possibility of him being a Pro Bowl player and Hall of Famer,'' Thomas said. ``If you are going to get a Pro Bowl tackle you have get him in the top five. There may have been a couple of guys who haven't panned out, but I'm a vastly different person.
``My attitude and my competitiveness will not let me fail.''
The Browns have had a revolving door of sorts at left tackle since their expansion rebirth in 1999. Lomas Brown, Roman Oben, Ross Verba, Barry Stokes, Lonnie Shelton and Shaffer have played at the crucial spot.
Thomas, who grew up in Milwaukee, visited Cleveland earlier this month and came away impressed by the Browns and the city.
``I felt like I was right at home,'' he said. ``I met a couple of guys on the team and they seem like great people. They were all focused on bringing this team back to glory.''
Not long before the draft began, a car full of Browns fans pulled into the team's headquarters, hoping to deliver a message to Savage and coach Romeo Crennel.
``Tell them to take Joe,'' one of them hollered.
This time, the Browns listened.

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