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Why Belichick might want Browns to change their tune

With no pick until Round 3 next week, Belichick might be motivated to make the Browns change their

BY STEVE DOERSCHUK Gatehouse Ohio Media Published: April 21, 2017 11:02 AM

BEREA -- Browns architects Sashi Brown and Andrew Berry chaperoned the dance disguised as a pre-draft news conference Wednesday.

Hue Jackson, who calls the shots on the biggest draft question, is in hiding.

No matter what they are saying or not saying about quarterbacks, one standing rule of every NFL decision maker applies:

"Don't believe ANYTHING you hear a week before the draft."

In 2016, Jackson arranged to sign veteran Robert Griffin III in March. The head coach then said no to Carson Wentz, signing off on a deal to get out of the No. 2 overall pick. Jackson then saw to it that Cody Kessler was the fifth of the team's 14 draft picks.

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By now, Jackson knows who he wants. It was Brown and Berry, though, who were sent out to talk about it.

"You don't want to force it," Brown said of overspending just because a quarterback is needed.

Berry added, "There are only so few players that walk the Earth who can play quarterback in the NFL."

No one is guessing where Jackson comes down on the top draft prospects -- Mitch Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson and DeShone Kizer -- or how highly he prizes New England's Jimmy Garoppolo. Jackson saw things his own way with Griffin and Kessler last year, and as Sashi Brown says of the 2017 decision, "We lean tremendously on Hue. It's his system. He understands who would be a fit for us."

When Brown was asked if he envisions trading for a veteran quarterback on draft weekend, he said, "No," and left it at that.

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But it isn't draft weekend. The Wentz trade was made one week before draft weekend last year. And there is a chance Belichick and the Browns are playing "hard to get" vs. "don't want him that badly."

New England is practically broadcasting Garoppolo's availability.

On Tuesday, Patriots player personnel director Nick Caserio didn't say "no" when asked if Garoppolo is available. He did say:

"Whatever you think is best for our team for 2017, for that season, then that's what we'll do. That's where the focus is ... trying to put together the best team possible for the 2017 season. However that comes about."

What's better for the 2017 Patriots? A high draft pick who will contribute right away, as Belichick's top selections almost always do? Or a quarterback in a contract year stuck behind a Hall of Famer who hasn't lost a game to injury since 2008?

Because of trades, Belichick isn't scheduled to be on the clock next week until No. 72 overall.

He is mindful of what his top picks at assorted overall spots provided as rookies in these consecutive years:

- 2010 Defensive back Devin McCourty (No. 27 overall) started every game for a 14-2 team and made the Pro Bowl.

- 2011 Offensive tackle Nate Solder (No. 17 overall) started 13 games in the regular season and all three postseason games.

- 2012 Defensive end Chandler Jones (No. 21 overall) was a force by Game 6, making nine tackles and sacking Russell Wilson twice at Seattle.

- 2013. Linebacker Jamie Collins (No. 52 overall) played all 16 regular-season games and started both playoff games.

- 2014 Dominique Easley (No. 29 overall) was in the defensive line rotation from Day 1.

- 2015 Defensive tackle Malcom Brown (No. 32 overall) played in all 19 games, making 16 starts, including all three postseason games.

Of course, one can look at this two ways.

With scheduled picks at No. 1, No. 12, No. 33 and No. 52, perhaps the Browns could get at least three players who will help them make a jump in 2017, but if one of the picks is a quarterback, they would have to endure his growing pains. Garoppolo has enough experience to make a case that he might thrive immediately.

"There are a lot of different ways you can build a roster," Brown said. "Obviously, the teams that have the great quarterbacks seem to be perennially in the playoffs."

As for Texas A&M defender Myles Garrett, most of the NFL seems to think he's an easy choice as the No. 1 pick.

"Whatever team gets him, particularly if it's us, would be proud to have him," Brown said.

But then, everything said in this session was on dance day, not draft day.


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