Twilight of the running back

Cincinnati Bengals: Andy Dalton must be looking over his shoulder now that his patron, Jay Gruden, is gone and the Bengals used a draft choice on quarterback AJ McCarron.

In the 2011 draft, Cincinnati selected Dalton. With the next choice, San Francisco took Colin Kaepernick, who has dramatically outperformed Dalton in the postseason. When Gruden skedaddled to the R dskns a few months ago, the Cincinnati Enquirer said that Gruden had insisted on tabbing Dalton over the objections of owner Mike Brown, who preferred Kaepernick. Maybe this is Brown planting stories to make himself look good. But if the reports are true, Dalton is a lame duck. AJ McCarron to A.J. Green -- a publicist's dream!

Cleveland Browns: In 2011, the Browns traded down in the first round to stockpile picks for the next draft. In 2013, the Browns traded out of the middle rounds to stockpile picks for 2014. Then in 2014, the Browns traded down in the first round, to stockpile picks for 2015. And it didn't stop there. On Saturday, as attention to the draft faltered, with Josh Gordon's possible suspension just revealed and no wide receiver selected, the Browns traded out of the late rounds to acquire an extra sixth-rounder in 2015. Coming into the 2014 with a bundle of extra picks, the Browns for all intents and purposes delayed all the extra picks to 2015, when they are now scheduled to pick twice in the first, fourth and sixth rounds.

Maybe the team should have a helmet image of a squirrel hoarding nuts.

Endlessly postponing draft choices keeps signing bonuses low for embattled owner Jimmy Haslam. But will the Browns ever use their ammunition? For a bad team to keep stockpiling picks doesn't make sense. Of course, a reason bad teams are bad is that they make bad decisions.

Because the 2015 draft is expected to be weaker at most positions than the very strong 2014 draft, Buffalo's first- and fourth-round selections next year, obtained when Cleveland traded down to let the Bills grab gifted Sammy Watkins, likely will be worth less than choices this year. Cleveland's strategy will shine only if Buffalo has a terrible season in 2014 and its first choice is high. Though if that happens, the Browns may trade out.

The draft's oddest trade came when the Browns, holding the ninth choice, give a fifth-rounder to Minnesota, which held the eighth choice, in order to flip-flop picks, Cleveland then selecting corner Justin Gilbert. Flip-flopping with Minnesota seemed necessary only if the Vikings were planning to select Gilbert -- in which case they wouldn't have traded the pick! The second possibility is that Cleveland wanted to stop Minnesota from trading the eighth selection to some other team that sought Gilbert. But if the Browns' bid of a fifth-round choice seemed better to Minnesota, that means the rival offered no more than a sixth-round choice, and nobody moves up at the top of the draft for just a sixth-round choice. The Minnesota-Cleveland flip-flop is hard to make sense of.

Dallas Cowboys: Johnny Manziel fell all the way to his dream team, then kept falling as the Cowboys passed, too. Jerry Jones has so much payroll locked up in Tony Romo, he may have passed on Johnny Football for financial reasons. But why did so many NFL teams not select the player oft-projected as the draft's first choice?

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