By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
The Morning Kickoff …
Looking back: The two-year anniversary of the Robert Griffin 3 trade passed last month without much commemoration. The quiet was strange considering the casualties resulting from that last, great NFL draft mega-deal.
Washington gave St. Louis first-round picks over three consecutive years, plus a No. 2 in 2012, to move up from No. 6 and jump in front of the Browns at No. 4 to select Griffin, the Heisman-winning quarterback from Baylor.
The Browns, then run by Mike Holmgren, were assailed at the time for sitting on their hands and allowing the Redskins to outbid them. Just two years later, all the principals on the Browns are gone – Holmgren, GM Tom Heckert and coach Pat Shurmur; and their alternative choices in that draft, Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden.
The Redskins were hailed for aggressively seizing a franchise quarterback. Griffin indeed transformed them into a playoff team as a rookie. But concerns about his durability were realized when he ran himself into an ACL tear late in his first season.
Griffin rushed his return in 2013 and suffered a nightmare of a second season. It cost coach Mike Shanahan his job. The end result was that Shanahan’s son, Kyle, who sparred with Griffin as the team’s offensive coordinator, wound up in Cleveland as new coach Mike Pettine’s top offensive assistant.
The Rams are the one entity involved to escape criticism. This is strange because they have remarkably little to show for what should have been a franchise-changing trade.
They have had seasons of 7-8-1 and 7-9 and have no evident superstars as a result of the mega-deal.
A closer look: Through multiple trades, the Rams parlayed their No. 2 overall pick in 2012 into seven players and one more first-round pick to come.
The players the Rams acquired from the RG3 trade are:
* Starting defensive tackle Michael Brockers.
* Starting cornerback Janoris Jenkins.
* Running back Isaiah Pead, a disappointment who is unofficially fourth on their depth chart.
* Offensive guard Rokevious Watkins, who is now with Kansas City.
* Starting linebacker Alec Ogletree.
* Backup receiver Stedman Bailey.
* Starting running back Zac Stacy.
Meanwhile, the Rams still don’t have a go-to receiver for quarterback Sam Bradford. At NFL meetings in Orlando last week, I asked Rams coach Jeff Fisher to assess how the Rams have utilized the assets acquired in the RG3 trade.
He answered, “I believe right now, with what we’ve got on the roster resulting from the trade, we’ve done well. We’ve drafted starters, drafted high-character players that will be part of our program, hopefully, for a long time. And we all know we’re not done yet. “
The last installment of the Redskins’ first-round picks comes in this year’s draft. Because the Redskins slumped to 3-13 in Griffin’s disastrous second season, the Rams, once again, are sitting in the No. 2 slot.
“I remember telling (reporters) back then that this would be the last time we’d ever pick second,” Fisher said. “And I lied.”
How the Rams affect the Browns: Bradford suffered a torn ACL in his seventh game last year. Fisher said Bradford is “ahead of schedule” in his rehab and will be cleared to return at the start of the team’s offseason program this month.
Despite an 18-30-1 record in four seasons as Rams starting quarterback – two of which preceded Fisher’s arrival as Rams coach – Fisher reiterated his hearty endorsement of Bradford as the team’s franchise QB.
Which gives the Rams the option of selecting the highest-rated non-quarterback in the draft on May 8 or trading the pick yet again for more picks.
The Rams have made first-round trades in both drafts with Fisher as head coach. In 2012, they traded down with the Redskins and then with the Cowboys. In 2013, they traded up from No. 16 (their own pick and not the one obtained from the previous Washington trade) to No. 8 to select 174-pound receiver/returner Tavon Austin.
The players the Rams reportedly are considering with the No. 2 pick – if they keep it – are South Carolina pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney, Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson, Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews, Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins and Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack.
Those same players are on the Browns’ radar, along with quarterbacks Blake Bortles of Central Florida and Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M.
It’s weird that two years after one of the blockbuster draft-day trades of recent times, the Rams again are No. 2 in the draft order and the Browns again are No. 4.
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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