AFC North Fortunate Robert Griffin Will Land Outside the Division

It appears that Cleveland will remain Cleveland for at least another year.

Robert Griffin III, Baylor's Heisman-winning quarterback who shot up draft boards all year and cemented his place behind the league's next Golden Boy, Andrew Luck, is the target of Washington's version of the Herschel Walker Trade (though not nearly as reckless) for the No. 2 overall pick.

It's not a bad trade for the Redskins, either. Or is it?

Washington reportedly will give up the No. 6 overall pick as well as its second-round pick in the 2012 draft, plus, first round picks in 2013 and 2014 in exchange for the No. 2 pick in this year's draft.

When the deal is finalized - which won't happen until March 13, the start of the new league year - it's likely that St. Louis will throw in a later round pick or two over the next three years. But the Rams still picked up a bonanza many would have thought unattainable leading up to the draft.

It wasn't about the Rams showing interest in Griffin - they still have 2010 No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford under center. It wasn't about Minnesota at No. 3, who could have made a convincing argument they may take Griffin at No. 3 even after taking Christian Ponder in the first round last year. This was about Cleveland at No. 4.

The Browns had the scratch to pull off the deal: they hold Atlanta's first-round pick (No. 22 overall) since the Falcons included it in their package to move up 21 spots last year to select Alabama WR Julio Jones. Many speculated that Cleveland could give up their first-round picks this year, plus perhaps a second-round pick next year, for the second overall pick. The two-pick difference between Cleveland and Washington suggests that the Browns would have given up a little less, but the three first-round picks St. Louis is receiving in exchange for a player they wouldn't have drafted is the kind of windfall usually bestowed on lottery winners and heirs.

I get the adage, "You're only as good as your weakest link," and how Cleveland could improve at a higher rate with two first-round picks instead of just one. But many people fail to notice how good Cleveland's young defense was last season. If they had a quarterback, plus the addition of even a reasonably talented receiver in this draft, they could legitimately compete next year.

Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden (possible QB targets for the Browns at No. 22) do not have the core skill set Griffin has. Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon (a possible target for Cleveland at No. 4) won't be as dominant a player as Griffin will be.

In other words, the AFC North is breathing a sigh of relief that Griffin won't be going against them twice a year. With his accuracy on deep passes, athleticism and mental make-up, it won't take him long to be a very dangerous passer.

Washington mortgaging its future and counting solely on its salary cap space this season to rebuild a depleted roster is already a huge plus for the Steelers. They still may have to deal with Blackmon, an Anquan-Boldin-With-A-Lot-More-Speed kind of receiver, but without a high-ceiling QB coming into the division, they can feel confident in their ability to keep Cleveland in the basement.

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