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Browns GM Farmer keeps draft plan a secret

04/29/2014, 12:53am EDT
By ASSOCIATED PRESS

Cleveland Browns general manager Ray Farmer laughs during a news conference at the NFL football team's headquarters in Berea, Ohio, Monday. ASSOCIATED PRESS

BEREA, Ohio — Cleveland Browns general manager Ray Farmer didn't give up a thing. He offered some clues, provided insight, and lavished praise on several players.

But during a 30-minute news conference, Farmer failed to reveal any specific plans for his first NFL draft, arguably the most important selection of players for Cleveland's flopping franchise in decades.

Farmer may be a rookie GM, but he played the guessing game like a seasoned pro.

Heading into next week's draft with 10 picks, two in the first round and five of the top 83, Farmer has assets to improve the Browns. Along with Cleveland's scouting department and coaches, he's done his homework.

Farmer's ready. More than ready.

"Let's go," he said. "Can we call New York and get it done?"

The Browns won't be on the clock until May 8, but the countdown to this year's delayed draft has been unlike any in recent memory. With so much mystery at the top, and endless speculation and debate about the long-term prospects of high-profile players like Jadeveon Clowney and Johnny Manziel, this draft has something for everyone.

"This is bigger than a lot of sporting events," Farmer said. "It's interesting because everybody is fired up about the NFL draft and rightfully so. This will be Christmas in May."

Cleveland's first gift will come fourth overall, a choice many feel should be devoted to a potential franchise quarterback. Farmer was careful not to single out anyone he has in mind for the pick; Houston, St. Louis, and Jacksonville will pick before Cleveland.

Like he was in the pocket dodging a blitzing linebacker, Farmer smoothly danced around whether any QB is worthy of the No. 4 selection.

"That's interesting because if I say yes, people will make the assumption that we're going to take a quarterback at four," he said. "If I say no, they're going to make the assertion that we're going to pass on a quarterback. So, I'm going to plead the fifth [amendment].

"We have players on our board at the right positions that we do think are worthy with that pick and it just comes down to what happens in front of you. There may be somebody there that we think is worthy and he may not be available when it's our turn to select."

Manziel is the most polarizing player in this year's draft. There are questions about the Texas A&M star's size, character, durability and whether his dynamic game translates to the pro level. The Browns didn't attend Manziel's pro day, but worked him out recently in College Station, Texas.

Manziel visited the Browns last week.

"I don't think I have any reservations about who Johnny is," Farmer said. "We had a lot of conversations and spent a lot of time with him. He's a good young man."

As for Manziel's potential as a pro player, Farmer described Manziel as both "dynamic" and "different."

"He's not the quintessential everybody looks at and points to and says, 'This is exactly how you draw it up and this is the packaging you want,'" Farmer said. "That speaks to a lot of who and what Johnny has been his entire life.

"It's different. It's not how you generally think of playing the position and being effective from the pocket, but the guy has definitely been a very good college football player."

BROWNS/​YOUNG: As they contemplate choosing a quarterback early in the upcoming draft, the Browns will take a look at a former first-round pick.

Free agent quarterback Vince Young was expected to take a physical with the team Monday and is expected to participate in Cleveland's minicamp this week. Farmer said the team has been tracking Young, who hasn't played in an NFL regular-season game since 2011 with Philadelphia. He has spent parts of the past two offseasons with Buffalo and Green Bay.

Young, selected third overall by Tennessee in 2006, is 31-19 as a starter.

"Our interest in Vince is that he's been productive and he's had success in the National Football League," Farmer said. "We wanted to take the opportunity to get a chance to see where he was. We've been kind of following him through the offseason and he had been doing some things that kind of caught our eye and made us kind of take note and we wanted to see what that looked like in his own time frame."

Farmer said the Browns are also bringing in quarterback Tyler Thigpen, who last played for Buffalo in 2012.

The Browns need to add a veteran to back up Brian Hoyer, who is penciled in as the starter heading into this season but is coming off knee surgery. Other than Hoyer, the only quarterback on Cleveland's roster is Alex Tanney, who was signed late last season as the Browns were hit hard by injuries at quarterback.

Both Young and Thigpen are mobile, and Farmer said that's an important quality in new coordinator Kyle Shanahan's offense.

"They both are very good athletes," Farmer said. "They both have had relative success — I know Vince you would easily say probably more than Tyler. That's a good piece. I think Kyle would tell you that he likes a quarterback that is mobile."

KOSAR/​PLEA: Former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar pleaded no contest to a lesser charge after blaming knee and ankle surgeries for not performing a field sobriety test during a traffic stop last year.

Kosar, 50, had been charged with drunken-driving in September, but Monday he entered a plea to reckless operation and received a fine and suspended jail sentence.

Police smelled a strong odor of alcohol when Kosar was pulled over in Solon, Ohio.

The Browns last week said Kosar was being removed as a color commentator for preseason games. He said he was removed because of slurred speech he attributes to "a direct result of the many concussions I received while playing in the NFL."

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