BEREA – Browns general manager Tom Heckert knows whom he will take with the No. 4 pick in the draft next Thursday night. He’s just not telling.
Heckert held his predraft news conference this morning in a room packed with reporters. He talked for 45 minutes but tried his best not to reveal any information that would help other teams get a sense of where the Browns are leaning. The Browns have 13 picks, including Nos. 4, 22 and 37.
Quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are locked in at the first two picks, but Heckert said he doesn’t know whom Minnesota will take at No. 3. So he has two players ready to go at No. 4, depending on what the Vikings do.
He wouldn’t disclose the chosen two, but they are believed to come from Alabama running back Trent Richardson, Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon, LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne and possibly Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Tannehill seems like a reach that high, while Claiborne might be the draft’s best defensive player but doesn’t address the Browns’ inability to score points in 2011. That could leave Richardson and Blackmon as the top two candidates.
“It’s not a secret we need guys who can score points,” Heckert said. “Hopefully we’ll get some.”
But he said it would be wrong to assume the Browns will use their first three picks on offense. They won’t pass on a better defensive player just to try to fill a need.
“We’re not going to do it just to do it,” he said.
Heckert said he was guilty of that years ago in Philadelphia and has learned not to panic and cave to the pressure. He said it’s his job to keep the rest of the organization focused on the big picture and picking the best players available.
Heckert said the top of his draft board is clearly defined and there are no ties. He added those players have no character issues.
A few other thoughts:
** He wouldn’t hesitate to draft a running back at No. 4. He said having traded up to take running back Montario Hardesty in 2010 isn’t a “factor” in whether he would draft Richardson, but it is part of the consideration.
** Blackmon’s relative lack of size (6-foot-1) isn’t an issue.
** Heckert doesn’t plan to trade out of the No. 4 spot, but if he does he would only move down a few spots. There’s a limited group of players he has targeted with the first pick.
** He believes the team is further along talent-wise than last year — when he traded from the sixth pick to No. 27 – and wouldn’t make such a drastic move again. He acquired a number of picks from Atlanta, including No. 22 this year.
** Heckert wouldn’t say if he’ll take a quarterback with one of the first three picks. He reiterated his support for incumbent Colt McCoy, but wouldn’t guarantee he’ll be the starter in 2012.
** Heckert said Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden’s age (28) is a factor, but wouldn’t preclude the team from drafting him.
** He also said he believes Tannehill could start in his first year, and may have an advantage in Cleveland, which runs the West Coast Offense he used in college.
FOLLOW SCOTT PETRAK ON TWITTER. AND READ THE C-T EVERY DAY FOR DRAFT COVERAGE.