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Published: 4/28/2008

Browns take LB Bell and TE Rucker in fourth round of NFL draft

ASSOCIATED PRESS

BEREA, Ohio - With no picks in the first two rounds of the NFL draft, the Cleveland Browns finally got involved Sunday.

The Browns selected UNLV linebacker Beau Bell and Missouri tight end Martin Rucker with a pair of fourth round picks acquired in trades with Dallas.

"We're excited about what we were able to do," said general manager Phil Savage, whose wheeling and dealing to get quarterback Brady Quinn in last year's draft was the talk of the league.

To get Bell with the 104th selection overall, Savage traded the Browns' fourth-round (122nd overall) and fifth-round picks (155th overall) to the Cowboys. The Browns also dealt their third-round pick in next year's draft to Dallas to get Rucker with the 111th pick overall.

"The two players we selected were players we had evaluated in February as potential second and third round type of players," Savage said. "Once they were there, and the way our board was shaping up, I felt like it was worth the moves to do that."

The 6-1, 250-pound Bell won last year's defensive player of the year award in the Mountain West Conference and led the league with a career-high 126 tackles. He also had three sacks, 9 stops behind the line of scrimmage and forced five fumbles.

Savage has been looking for a linebacker the Browns can turn into an outside pass rusher a crucial spot in their 3-4 scheme but Bell won't fill that role.

"There's no real projection there," Savage said. "He's not a 3-4 outside rush guy. He's an inside hammer type player."

Bell, whose linebacker role models are Lawrence Taylor and Junior Seau, backs up Savage's assessment of his ability.

"I'd say the style I play is real physical," he said. "I like to run around and hit people."

Rucker, a consensus first team All-American in 2007, set Missouri's reception record with 84 receptions for 834 yards and eight touchdowns. He started all 50 games in his career at Missouri and set the school career record with 203 receptions.

The 6-4, 247-pounder will compete for playing time behind star tight end Kellen Winslow Jr., who had arthroscopic knee surgery after the Pro Bowl. Backup tight end Steve Heiden underwent surgery last week to repair a bulging disk in his back.

"We feel (both players) will be ready to go for the season, but clearly through the next couple of months Martin Rucker will get a real good experience right off the top," Savage said.

Winslow has hinted he wants to renegotiate his contract, which has three years remaining. Savage is uncertain what will occur.

"Realistically, I can't answer that question," he said. "There's no indication one way or the other. We'll cross that bridge when we get there."

Rucker is excited about joining the Browns.

"They have a a great offense," he said. "I'm looking forward to complementing what they already have."

Although the Browns need to add depth at cornerback, Savage said Bell and Rucker rated higher than any corners that were available. Savage said he will continue to monitor the cornerback situation.

Thanks to another deal, Savage grabbed consecutive picks in the sixth round. The Browns drafted Iowa State defensive lineman Ahtyba Rubin and Wisconsin receiver Paul Hubbard with the 190th and 191st overall picks.

The pick for Rubin was acquired from Seattle in September when the Browns sent Charlie Frye to the Seahawks. The Browns sent their 2009 fifth-round pick to Philadelphia for Hubbard.

In the seventh round, the Browns selected defensive end Alex Hall from St. Augustine in North Carolina, a Division II school. Hall, taken with the 231st pick, will be moved to linebacker.

Savage, who has two years remaining on his contract, is close to reaching an agreement on an extension with owner Randy Lerner.

"I think it will take place in the next week or so," Savage said. "I think we have a handshake and a wink, but nothing on paper yet."



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