Even though the Cleveland Browns have been the laughing stock of the NFL for some time, owner Jimmy Haslam proved on Tuesday he’s one of the best in the league. Over the past year, he’s made it very clear that he’s a big Johnny Manziel fan and his team will likely have the option of drafting the polarizing quarterback with the fourth overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. However, Browns GM Ray Farmer reportedly doesn’t want a quarterback at all and, fortunately for Cleveland fans, Haslam is okay with that.
At the end of a draft meeting with his GM, coach and other decision-makers who will be busy on Thursday night, Haslam ended the gathering by looking at Farmer and saying, “At the end of the day, this is your call,” referring to the decision of who the Browns will take with their two first-round picks.
Just like 2012, Cleveland will pick twice on Thursday night, which is ideal for a team desperate for success after failed former first-round picks are now long gone. While the easy, rash decision would be to take a quarterback (specifically Manziel) at No. 4 overall, Farmer and his staff are taking a more intelligent approach.
Farmer is reportedly interested in drafting a receiver and a cornerback with his two first-round picks, but not necessarily in that order. The consensus mock pick for the Browns at No. 4 is Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins, who would immediately improve any passer under center in Cleveland. However, last-minute rumors suggest the team might trade down out of the top 10 for Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert.
The general thought there is Gilbert will be a nice complement to Joe Haden and the pair would then make it easier for the Browns to lean heavy on the blitz this year, which is the preference of new head coach Mike Pettine. Although he hasn’t provided any information on that, Pettine did have one strong answer when asked about Haslam’s potential interference with Cleveland’s first-round draft picks:
“That will never happen.”
There you have it. Rest easy, Browns fans. It at least appears that your franchise won’t get set back another five years by wasting a top-five draft pick on Manziel.
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