Farmer: All draft options still on the table

The Cleveland Browns GM danced around questions at the quarterback position as the draft draws near

BEREA, Ohio—Ray Farmer smiled confidently as he addressed the media in his pre-draft press conference. The Browns currently have 10 selections in next week’s draft, including six of the first 115 picks.

The Browns have the 12th and 19th picks this year and are hoping to hit a home run as they did in 1978 when they picked Clay Matthews and Hall of Famer Ozzie Newsome.

They might even settle for a single or a double after many of the team’s recent drafts.

The Browns have had two first-round picks eight times, including last year. Last year the Browns took Justin Gilbert and Johnny Manziel, and it might be too early to judge the results.

However, the last time the team had two picks prior was in 2012, when they selected Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden, both long gone from Cleveland.

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As always is the case, a lot of the talk was about the quarterback position. Farmer was asked if the quarterback was currently on the roster with Josh McCown, Johnny Manziel, Thad Lewis or Connor Shaw.

“He very well may be,” Farmer said. “He might not be. Depends upon what you have an opportunity to acquire, and then if that guy comes in and plays better than the guys that are currently here. It’s an opportunity-driven league.

“At some respects nobody would assume that Tony Romo would become Tony Romo, but somehow he’s Tony Romo,” Farmer said. “It’s the nature of the beast. There was a time when Aaron Rodgers was sitting behind Brett Favre and people were like, ‘he’s never played so he can’t be very good, because they would do something.’ and then three years into it they roll him out and now he’s Aaron Rodgers. At the end of the day, I think that patience and a plan and the consistency to drive that competition is kind of where it lies for me.”

Farmer said he and his staff are prepared but really nothing can prepare for what happens when the draft actually begins. He was asked if he could’ve known the draft day opportunities that were presented to him last year.

“That brings up a good point, which is interesting,” Farmer said. “You hear all the information, I can tell you right now, nobody’s saying anything that’s substantial at the moment. They are just not. All the reports, all the conjecture, all the this is happening and that’s happening, it’s a pretty fluid process and people say when you make calls and talk to other teams, they we’re willing to go up or you’re willing to go down.

“Those things happen literally much closer to the draft and a lot of times while you’re on the clock,” he said. “You’ve got to make that in-moment decision of do I want to do this or do I not want to do this? That’s where all the contingency planning and the preparation come into play.

A lot of talk has centered about whether the Browns will try and make a move to go after Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. Farmer was asked why the Browns are so linked to the quarterback.

“Because it’s constantly reported that we’re just starved and we’re going to do whatever we’ve got to do to get there and we’re going to trade everything we have to get one person,” Farmer said. “I don’t know why that is, but it seems to make for good media, because people like it. You read it, you see it and it’s what it is. End of the day, the object is to improve your football team and to win football games, so I get that there’s this notion at times that there’s a silver bullet or there’s this one magic player that’s going to walk in here on a horse and we’re going to start winning games and he’s going to be the reason we did it.

“I just don’t believe in the fairy tale anymore,” he said. “I just think you got to get your hammer and your nails and you got to go out and build a house and that’s what it’s going to take. You got to take your time and put it together the right way.”

Farmer did say that he likes that Mariota has proven he’s a winner, but knows there is still questions as far as his game converting to the NFL level.

"I think the thing that distinguishes him is that the guy’s been successful,” Farmer said. “You look at the differences of what guys do and accomplish and how they play and a lot of it comes down to: What was your performance? What did your performance yield? So it’s easy to see why whether it’s Marcus or whether it’s another player, they get the benefit of the doubt because their teams have had success with him at the helm, so that’s where it starts.

“I would say there’s a lot more nuances that we can talk about as far as: How he delivers the ball. What his footwork is like. What is his accuracy like? What is decision-making like? Can he progression read? Can he take a three-, five-, seven-step drop with a hitch and make a throw in rhythm? All of those things kind of come into play and they’re technical and they get past all of the generalities I think people look at. But it really comes down to how well did the guy play his position in college and how well do you think your staff, your coaching staff can utilize his skill set to help you win."

Farmer was asked if taking Manziel in the first round last year would prevent him from taking another quarterback in the first round this year.

“It doesn’t,” he said. “I’ve got to make the best decision for the Cleveland Browns, not for Johnny Manziel, not for Ray Farmer. I’ve got to make the best decision for the Cleveland Browns and that’s what we’ll focus on.”

Farmer was asked if the Browns would consider trading their two first round picks to move up for Mariota and he gave the same “Sure, why not?” answer that Mike Pettine did on Tuesday.

Farmer said all options are on the table, but he isn’t going to make moves just to make moves.

“For me it’s more looking at not being aggressive for the sake of being aggressive or moving for the sake of moving, but trying to create opportunities where you can create value and capitalize on that value.”

He said he’s willing to be patient, even if Browns fans aren’t.

“I’ve said this repeatedly, I like the idea of slow-brewed, fresh-brewed coffee,” he said. “I’m going to grind my coffee beans, I’m going to get my filter out, I’m going to pour it in, I’m going to let it simmer, I’m going to get a good cup. We all want it to happen like right away, we want these guys to come in, you want to improve your football team, I thought we did that last year.

“We found guys in the second round, third round, free agents, guys who came in and contributed and played,” he said. “Now, the reality that everybody wants the first ones to be great players right away, sometimes that happens, sometimes it doesn’t. I think from my perspective, yeah, do you feel like you want those guys to come in and contribute more? Yeah, you’d love for everybody to come in and play great. I don’t think they’re done, I think they have more to offer and at the end of the day, I’m going to do the same thing. I’m going to try to add guys to this roster I think can improve us.

Farmer tried to down play the need for a franchise quarterback when it was pointed out for the most part, teams in the playoffs every year have an established quarterback.

“You could say that, but I could in turn say that when Tom Brady got to New England they were built on defense and the run game,” he said. “So was he really the magic bullet or did he grow into that? It’s the what came first, the chicken or the egg? At some point, yeah, the guy’s a really good player and I don’t doubt that at all. I don’t doubt that (Andrew) Luck’s a good player, I don’t doubt that (Peyton) Manning’s a good player. The reality is that it takes a team to win. Those guys need the team to have success. Without the team, you don’t see the benefits of what they produce.”

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