Ray Farmer has been an NFL general manager for a little less than two weeks, but he already has one part of the job down: He has learned the art of speaking without saying anything.
On Thursday, Farmer met with the media at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. As you would expect, Farmer was asked about Johnny Manziel and the rest of the quarterbacks in this draft class. Like a true front office veteran, Farmer spoke for five minutes without giving away anything at all.
Here’s what Farmer had to say about the importance of finding an upgrade at the quarterback position:
“I think that the reality is that we want to upgrade our football team. I think that winning games and finding a way to put the best product on the field is what the fans deserve. It’s what the City of Cleveland deserves. That’s what we’re focused on, is building a better product all around.”
Wow. Not just a deflection of the quarterback question, but a solid reference to giving the fans what they deserve. That was textbook.
Farmer wouldn’t say whether the Browns will definitely go with a quarterback early in the draft, citing of course Montana and Brady. Here’s a spoiler alert: The Browns will be drafting a quarterback in the early rounds. Most likely the first.
The new GM also addressed the idea of trading up or down in the draft.
“I think that we want to find the best football players for our football team,” Farmer said. “We want to put ourselves in a position to find the guys that we’d truly like to have on our team. I think that’s one of the strategies that we’re going to stick to. Identifying the guys that fit who we want to be and finding a way to get those guys on our football team.”
OK, so he didn’t really address it as much as he brought it up and then ignored it.
There are a couple different philosophies when it comes to drafting, and every year there are always the debates about drafting for need versus drafting the best player available. Farmer answered a question regarding this.
“I am a big component of a guy who fits in the scheme,” Farmer said. “The one thing I will say that Coach Pettine and other coaches have emphasized with me is that they will make an adjustment. We need to find the best players. We need to find guys that will impact the game. When you can impact the game whether you are a wide receiver, tight end, running back or an offensive lineman, when you can bring things to the table that allows the team to have success, that’s what we need to focus on, guys that can truly impact the game.”
After declining to talk about Davone Bess and using the franchise tag on center Alex Mack or safety TJ Ward, Farmer was asked about quarterback Brandon Weeden. Weeden, through his agent, recently made it known that he would appreciate a trade out of Cleveland to get a fresh start.
“We are only going to talk to Brandon and his agent directly,” said Farmer. “If they decide to tell everyone else where they are at then that is in their court. I will not tell the media what I will do. Those will come out in time. We will deal with Brandon and his agent and he will release that information when he feels that is appropriate.”
Then he was pressed a little further about Weeden, and asked if he thought Weeden will be a good quarterback in the NFL.
“When we grade players, we grade players on what they’ve done in the NFL. The college draft is a projection. Once you are in the NFL, you get graded upon your performance. We have a grade on Brandon and in time his agent and he will both know where we stand.”
In other words: Report cards will be mailed home soon. There isn’t a big enough grading curve to pass Brandon Weeden.