Crystal ball says Browns to trade down


This should not surprise anyone who has ever chomped on a dog biscuit.

ESPN Magazine has put together a mathematical formula that only a doctoral candidate could explain but which grades every NFL team on its draft day performance since 1994, the year the process expanded to seven rounds.

And which franchise has the absolute worst track record? The Cleveland Browns.

I think we all knew that, but it’s comforting to get confirmation.

When it comes to the draft, what I know and what I think are two different things.

What I know is that Kansas City will take 6-6, 305-pound offensive tackle Luke Joeckel with the No. 1 overall pick. The franchise quarterback of the Chiefs’ future is not in this draft, so coach Andy Reid will take the can’t-miss player who can keep that quarterback, if and when he is found, upright.

Starting with the No. 2 pick, though, it’s all guesswork, and most of that is because of quarterback Geno Smith of West Virginia.

Smith is rated around No. 20 on the overall draft boards of many experts. For him to go far above that is a reach, but he plays the one position teams reach for.

Considered the only first-round QB in the draft, his combination of big arm and athleticism portend a big upside.

Jacksonville, with the No. 2 overall pick, needs a quarterback. Philadelphia, at No. 4, needs a quarterback who can fit new coach Chip Kelly’s up-tempo, gun-run-fun offense similar to what he ran at the University of Oregon.

And, apparently, Cleveland at No. 6 would like a quarterback. The front office has been guarded about Brandon Weeden’s future and while they made a big deal of signing Jason Campbell, he is frankly a journeyman backup.

So here’s what I think, or guess, or whatever you want to call it.

Jacksonville will not be able to pull the trigger on Smith at No. 2. The Jags’ head coach, Gus Bradley, is the only 2013 newcomer with a defensive background. Someone like Oregon end/outside linebacker Dion Jordan fits perfectly.

Philadelphia will not be able to pull the trigger at No. 4. Eagles quarterbacks were sacked 48 times last season, so Kelly will settle on an offensive lineman, possibly Central Michigan’s 6-7, 305-pound Eric Fisher, and hope a system quarterback like E.J. Manuel of Florida State is there in the second round.

And if all that happens, I think the Browns will trade down, perhaps as many as six spots to where San Diego desperately wants one of the better offensive linemen, acquire a second-round pick that they don’t currently have in the process, and take a risk that Smith slides down with them.

Remember, when Cam Newton came to the NFL two years ago his Carolina Panthers became the first team to go all-in with the read-option attack. Newton’s offensive coordinator was Rob Chudzinski, now the Browns’ head coach. Smith slides out of the mold to run that offense.

So that’s what I think, guess, etc. Of course, it might not happen.

If not, with the sixth pick, the Browns would happily take Dee Milliner, the Alabama cornerback who, opposite Joe Haden, might give Cleveland one of the top corner tandems in the league. Nor would they pass on Jordan, if he is somehow still available, or BYU’s surprising Ezekial (Ziggy) Ansah, either of whom would improve the Browns’ nondescript pass rush.

Tomorrow:  Lions must fill offensive line.

Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: or 419-724-6398.