BEREA -- The decision sounds as if it’s been made. The Browns just aren’t ready to announce it.
“Stay tuned,” executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said.
The Browns will be on the clock with the No. 1 pick in the draft April 27, and Brown said Wednesday during a news conference he’ll extend the suspense until then. Even though he seemed settled on the desired target -- presumably Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett -- he’s leaving the next week for any late information that surfaces or the right trade opportunity.
“You never know what’s going to happen when you’re on the clock,” Brown said.
He said he’s already received calls about the top pick.
“We haven’t resigned ourselves one way or the other,” he said of moving out of the spot. “We feel really good about picking at one and I’ll leave it at that.”
The Browns have the Nos. 1 and 12 picks in the first round, five of the first 65 choices and 11 overall. They are coming off a franchise-worst 1-15 season.
“A really momentous draft class for us in terms of positioning our team to return to winning here in Cleveland,” said Brown, who will run his second draft after being promoted from legal counsel after the 2015 season.
The bulk of the attention is on the No. 1 pick, which the Browns hold for the first time since 1999 and 2000, when they selected quarterback Tim Couch and defensive end Courtney Brown. Those are the positions in play this year, with Garrett widely considered the obvious choice.
“I think it becomes easy because you’re not dealing with so many guys, there’s known certainty and you have a long time,” said of the decision at No. 1. “That can also make it hard in its own way.
“But we feel good about where we’re going to be and who we’re going to pick there.”
Last week reports surfaced of conflict inside the organization on whether to select Garrett or North Carolina quarterback and Mentor native Mitchell Trubisky at No. 1. Coach Hue Jackson and the front office were reportedly on opposite sides.
“That would be false, but I’m not going to comment on every rumor that’s out there,” Brown said. “It would take me a lot of time to do it because every day there’s another rumor.”
The Browns need a long-term answer at quarterback, so Trubisky could be in play at No. 1. But pass rusher remains a desperate need and is considered the second-most important position, and it would be a surprise if the Browns passed on Garrett. They worked him out privately and got to know him.
“Bright young man, competitive, we spent a lot of time with him so we learned a lot about what makes him tick, what motivates him, how he spends his downtime, how he spends his time with his teammates, you can learn a lot,” Brown said. “He’s an enjoyable young man, very bright. We’d be proud to have him.”
Garrett is a physical freak, running a 4.66-second 40-yard dash and bench pressing 225 pounds 33 times at 6-foot-4½, 272 pounds. He led the nation with 32.5 sacks in three years at Texas A&M, displaying quickness around the edge and the strength to beat double teams.
The biggest knock on him is that he didn’t always give 100 percent effort, some of which has been attributed to a high ankle sprain he played through in 2016.
“Sometimes those concerns are a little bit overstated,” vice president of player personnel Andrew Berry said. “The reality is, in college football the number of snaps these defensive linemen have to play, on a down-in, down-out basis, is usually greater than what they’ll have to play at the professional level.
“Every prospect is going to have his weaknesses. There’s no such thing as a perfect player. Myles has obviously had a very successful career at Texas A&M, very talented and been very productive. Look, we do like the player.”
The Browns held the No. 2 pick last year but traded down twice before selecting receiver Corey Coleman at No. 15. Brown said a similar scenario this year “would surprise me.” The Browns finished with a record 14 draft picks.
“In particular last year, we felt like we needed to add a lot of young talent to the roster and that really drove a lot of the decisions,” he said. “We do think we’re positioned obviously very different than we were coming out of 2015, so the need to continue acquiring high-value picks is less intense this year.”
Every draft is crucial for an organization that hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2002 and is in a constant rebuild. The number of high picks this year puts even more pressure on Brown and Co., although he wouldn’t call it a make-or-break draft.
“We view every single decision whether it’s free agency, cutting the roster down, draft opportunities as critical,” Brown said. “This league is too competitive to waste opportunities.
“We can get some players that can transform our franchise, and the way we’re positioned to some degree with the volume of players we feel can help us. We want to get those right.”
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