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Published: Sunday, 4/24/2005

Cleveland looks to future with Pool, Frye

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

BEREA, Ohio - The Cleveland Browns made an investment in the future with their second-round selection of Oklahoma free safety Brodney Pool in yesterday's NFL Draft.

Pool, who declared for the draft after his junior year, was the 34th overall pick despite the fact he won't celebrate his 21st birthday until May 24.

"I think this time next year, had he not come out as a junior, he would have been a top-20 pick," said Browns general manager Phil Savage. "We signed [free agent] Brian Russell, and Sean Jones is coming back after an injury, so safety is not a primary need on paper.

"But you look at the value of the player and where he might be a year from now and when he's the highest-rated defensive player on your board, you take him."

Pool, who some experts have compared to former Oklahoma safety Roy Williams, said he thinks he's "a complete player, on and off the field. I'm confident I'm ready to contribute. I'll do whatever it takes to fight for a starting job."

DJ VU: Pool said one of his earliest memories in football was playing in a pee-wee league for a team called the Cleveland Browns.

"It's funny how this happened, but I guess dreams come true," Pool said. "It's an honor to be with the real Cleveland Browns."

SHORT DRIVE: Akron quarterback Charlie Frye won't have to travel far to get to training camp. The Browns took Frye with the third pick in the third round (67th overall).

"I'm thrilled. It's going to save me a lot on airfare," Frye said from his home in Willard, Ohio. "It's right down the street."

Frye likely will learn under Trent Dilfer this season on a team he rooted for growing up.

A huge Bernie Kosar fan, Frye said his most vivid memories of the Browns are watching them lose in the playoffs to Denver in the late '80s.

"I talked to coach [Romeo] Crennel tonight and he's looking to get this thing turned around and he thinks I'm going to be a big part of it," he said.

At 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, Frye is an intelligent quarterback, who is not afraid to play hurt or scramble to find a receiver. The 23-year-old has a strong arm, but scouts say he must become a more accurate thrower.

Frye was named MVP of the Senior Bowl.

No Akron player has ever been drafted higher than Frye. Defensive end Jason Taylor was selected by Miami in the third round (73rd overall) in 1997.

GO ORANGE? Edwards is not too concerned about being a Michigan man in an Ohio uniform after becoming the Browns' No. 1 pick.

"I think the fans separate Saturdays and Sundays," he said. "They cheer the scarlet and gray on Saturday, then they cheer for the Browns. Now that I'm a part of the NFL, I think all of the college things go out the window."

Taken as the third overall pick, Edwards became the highest-drafted player from UM since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, edging defensive back Charles Woodson, who was taken by Oakland with the fourth pick in 1998.

He said that playing at Michigan was a "tremendous stage" that helped prepare him for the NFL, and then named a number of other programs that provide a similar advantage. But he didn't include Ohio State on the list.

"I apologize," he said, laughing. "That's as big as they come. I'm going to struggle with that, aren't I?"

NO DIRT: There were only five main decision-makers in the Browns' draft room here yesterday.

"It's a pretty clean room," is how Savage put it, meaning that it wasn't cluttered by assistant coaches or scouting personnel.

The room was staffed by owner Randy Lerner, Savage, head coach Romeo Crennel, club president John Collins and Bill Rees, the director of player personnel.

"And a couple of guys manning the phones," added Savage.

NO SALE: Savage said in a pre-draft interview that he didn't expect many, if any, trades to materialize at the top of the first round.

"That's because this draft doesn't offer the same value in trades," he said. "It's more a garage sale than shopping at Neiman-Marcus."

He correctly predicted that both San Francisco and Miami would "play the Braylon Edwards chip," but that no teams would bite and trade up.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

NO CONTACT: Shortly after San Francisco made Utah quarterback Alex Smith the No. 1 overall pick, ESPN reported that the 49ers were willing to trade Smith to Cleveland for the Browns' No. 3 pick, plus other considerations, and then use the third selection to take Cal quarterback Aaron Rodgers. It proved to be bad information.

"San Francisco did not call or make any contact in that regard," Savage said after the Browns had picked Edwards at No. 3.



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