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More than just another Brownout in Cleveland

There's an argument to be made that the Cleveland Browns were left at the altar Friday night, outbid by a rabid Daniel Snyder and his Redskins brass, who packaged three first-round picks and this year's second-rounder to the Rams for the No. 2 spot and the right to draft Baylor's Robert Griffin III.

Another school of thought: Cleveland is completely comfortable where they're at, sticking to their plan, and preparing to move forward with the picks they have.

Now, the Brownsdid attempt to engineer a last-minute push with the Rams for the second overall pick, but were late with their offer, according to ESPN. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch cited Rams team sources to report that Cleveland's final package included both of its first-round picks (No. 4 and No. 22) to move up, which wasn't the case earlier on.

So, there was clear interest in RG3. You want to hope the Browns' front office wasn't just late to the party, which would be troubling, but did they have a chance? Not to be dismissed here, of course, is the tight relationship between Rams coach Jeff Fisher and Redskins coach Mike Shanahan and their respective team executives, Kevin Demoff and Bruce Allen, making it a challenge for Cleveland to get a foot in the door.

Browns general manager Tom Heckert reiterated this week that he's committed to building the Browns through the draft, and that means stockpiling picks, not burning down the house for one prospect, even one as electrifying as RG3.

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"We feel very comfortable staying at four and getting a good player there, and that could happen," Heckert told The Associated Press on Thursday. "And we feel comfortable in moving down and getting more picks, we really do. It's way early to start talking about this stuff."

It's not too early for Browns fans, wondering when this regime's plan will translate into regular hammerings of the Ravens and Steelers. Heckert has drafted well the past two years. Sixteen picks have yielded eight starters and six reserves. Only two of those picks aren't on the team anymore and none are out of the league.

Problems on offense mask a defense in Cleveland that produced its best season since its return to the NFL in 1999, a direct result of the young talent this team has found through the draft.

No, it's not as sexy as RG3, a potential franchise quarterback. And if Griffin pans out, this could be pegged as an opportunity missed. But while the team is being painted as an organization that's mastered nothing but underwhelming, head-scratching transactions, Heckert and friends believe there's a gleam ahead. Some great light that hasn't shown for so long over the city of Cleveland. Only time will tell.

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