Winslow pick excites Davis

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 25, 2004

BEREA - The Hall of Fame bloodlines and college background were right. And to the Cleveland Browns, so was the price to get Kellen Winslow Jr.

Unable to trade for tackle Robert Gallery, the Browns moved up in the first round of the NFL draft Saturday and selected Winslow, Miami's talented tight end with a reputation for big plays - and a big mouth.

Cleveland swapped first-round picks (No. 7 for No. 6) with Detroit and the Browns also gave the Lions their second-round selection (No. 37 overall) to get the 6-foot-4, 243-pounder.

Email newsletter signup

''We just picked a heck of a football player and I am fired up,'' said coach Butch Davis, who helped recruit Winslow to the Hurricanes before taking the Browns' job in 2001.

When Gallery, the top-rated player on their wish list went second to Oakland, Davis decided he wasn't going to take any chances at missing out on Winslow and made the deal with Detroit.

The Browns love Winslow's speed, hands and versatility. They're counting on the son of Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow to make an immediate impact in an offense that should be better with new quarterback Jeff Garcia.

Cleveland traded back into the second round and nabbed Georgia safety Sean Jones at No. 59. The Browns dealt their third-round (No. 68), fifth-round (No. 141) and sixth-round (No. 173) selections to Indianapolis to get Jones.

The Colts also gave Cleveland a fifth-round pick (No. 61).

''I'm ready to go,'' Winslow said, sitting with Davis and Cleveland's first-year tight ends coach Rob Chudzinski, his coach at Miami. ''I didn't know the Browns thought that highly of me to trade for me.''

Winslow Jr. aspires to be the best tight end in league history, even better than his father, who is among a small group that could argue for that title.

''I'm not going to lie,'' Winslow said. ''I think I can be.''

Davis plans to use Winslow's multiple talents in a variety of formations. He'll play in the slot, backfield and is quick enough to go to wide receiver.

''His passion, his play-making ability and his 4.5 speed make him a threat to score,'' Davis said. ''This is a guy that we really felt like would be an asset to this team.''

But did the Browns give up too much to get him?

In previous drafts, a third- or fourth-round pick was enough to move up a single position in Round 1. Davis said the Lions told him they were going to take Winslow at No. 6, leaving the Browns little choice but make Detroit an offer it couldn't refuse.

Once the Lions were on the clock, the Browns knew time was running short.

''The compensation was maybe a little bit higher than people would have thought,'' Davis said. ''We felt the second round was a pretty good price to pay. He's a lightning rod.''

Sometimes a good one, sometimes bad.

Winslow, who left Miami after his junior year, led the Hurricanes with 60 receptions last season. He was named a first-team All-American and won the John Mackey Award, given to college football's top tight end.

However, Winslow's accomplishments were overshadowed by a postgame tirade following a loss to Tennessee when he criticized officials and compared himself to a soldier.

During that game, Winslow also drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and stood over and taunted a defender after making a block.

''It's war,'' Winslow screamed at reporters in the locker room. ''I'm … a soldier.''

Winslow later apologized for the remarks. He now says the experience taught him some valuable lessons.

''I learned from that situation. I learned to say, 'No' to people,'' he said. ''I'm glad that it happened.''

Asked to describe his personality, Winslow said, ''I'm an easy guy to get along with. I'm cool.''

Besides being overly confident, Winslow has a star quality similar to another young, talented Cleveland pro athlete.

''Kellen Winslow could easily be the LeBron James of the Browns,'' said his agent, Kevin Poston, referring to the Cavaliers' star. ''He has that kind of talent.''

Shortly after Cleveland made its first-round pick, some of James' people contacted the Browns hoping to set up a meeting between the two young stars.

They'll soon share a town. They already have in common a catchy nickname: The Chosen One.