During the 2011 NFL Draft, the Browns drafted eight players, but it was a pair of first round trades that garnered the bulk of the attention from the national media.
The Browns, who were originally scheduled to make the No. 6 pick on Thursday night, elected to trade that selection to the Atlanta Falcons. In exchange for the sixth pick, the Browns received the 27th, 59th and 124th choices in the 2011 Draft, in addition to the Falcons’ first and fourth round choices in the 2012 Draft. They later traded the 27th overall pick and a third round selection (No. 70 overall) to the Kansas City Chiefs in order to select defensive tackle Phil Taylor out of Baylor University.
On Wednesday afternoon, Browns General Manager Tom Heckert discussed the 2011 NFL Draft with Mike Florio on Pro Football Talk Live.
“If you look throughout the history of the draft, if you can hit on 60 percent of your guys, you would consider that a good draft,” said Heckert. “We all think we’re really good at what we do, but we know the truth is you just don’t know what you’re going to get. Anytime you have more chances at these guys, the better off you’re going to be and that’s kind of the way we looked at it.”
Before the Browns made the trade with Atlanta, they watched quarterback Cam Newton (Carolina), linebacker Von Miller (Denver), defensive lineman Marcell Dareus (Buffalo), wide receiver A.J. Green (Cincinnati) and defensive back Patrick Peterson (Arizona) go in the top five.
“We pretty much came to an agreement Wednesday night that if everything worked out and his guy was there, we would go ahead and do it,” Heckert said of the trade. “There was a chance if something happened in the first five picks that might have changed that for (Atlanta GM Thomas Dimitroff), but we thought it was going to happen, but we did not make the final trade till we were on the clock.”
Though the final deal was made on Thursday night, the Browns and Falcons had talked about a possible trade well before it was their turn to make a selection.
“Tom and I talked quite a bit for maybe two weeks beforehand and you talk to all the other general managers in the league, the what-if scenarios, would you be willing to come up, would you be willing to come down?” Heckert said. “I don’t think a whole lot of people talking about moving up or down that far either way. I said we would definitely be interested in at least talking about it. I said and he said to move that far, it’s going to take a lot. We both understood that.
“It was a big move for him to come up there, but also a big move for us,” he added. “It was a big decision for both of our organizations. The more players we can get to help us build a team, that’s the way we decided to do it.”