Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay shocked the world Wednesday by announcing his team had traded a 2014 first-round pick to the Cleveland Browns for running back Trent Richardson. The same Trent Richardson the Browns had just traded up to the No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft for.
We know what the Colts get out of this trade; they get an elite-level running back who is just 23 years old and barely into his second NFL season. What do the Browns get in trading away their best offensive building block?
It is fair to assume at this point that the Browns' own first-rounder in 2014 will be a high one—likely in the top five. With Richardson gone and fellow first-round pick from the 2012 class Brandon Weeden struggling more each week, it's safe to say the Browns are in a true rebuilding mode.
The danger in trading for an extra first-round pick in September is that we don't know who will or won't be in the upcoming draft class.
Browns fans may take solace in the idea that they'll get Teddy Bridgewater, but the Louisville quarterback is a junior—meaning no guarantees he'll be in the upcoming draft class. Just ask Matt Leinart or Matt Barkley if you don't think a top quarterback prospect can return to school unexpectedly. Even Andrew Luck went back to Stanford for one more year when many knew he was already the best draft-eligible quarterback.
With the pick they will receive from the Colts, the Browns front office must focus on adding to the skill positions. They could consider a running back, a wide receiver to step in alongside Josh Gordon or look to the defensive backfield. Joe Haden is a top-tier cornerback prospect, but the remainder of the secondary could be reworked. If the Browns can add a first-round prospect at cornerback, they would have to think long and hard about the pick.
The Colts are once again a playoff contender, and it's safe to assume at this point that they'll be selecting in the 20-25 pick range of the first round. Who could the Browns target there?
This isn't the only trade the Browns have made to bolster their stock of draft picks. The team traded for extra picks in the third and fourth rounds of the 2014 draft as well, giving them seven picks in the first four rounds to work with.
Extra picks in Rounds 3 and 4 will improve a bad roster by adding depth and increasing the overall talent level around the existing building blocks. Key players carrying a current grade in those rounds who Cleveland should be looking at include:
How well this trade is graded down the line depends on what Trent Richardson does in Indianapolis and what Cleveland turns the extra first-round pick into. Today, it looks like a major coup for the Colts, but two to three years from now, this may be the Browns' equivalent of trading Herschel Walker.
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