Looking for some insight into how crazy things can get when an NFL team is officially on the clock during the NFL Draft? Sports Illustrated’s Peter King details—in what was nearly a minute-by-minute breakdown—what went in to Cleveland Browns’ GM Ray Farmer making the move that ultimately landed them Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.
The [Philadelphia] Eagles, who held the 22nd pick in the draft, informed teams after several players they loved at 22 were snatched—LSU wideout Odell Beckham, who went 12th to the Giants, and Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller, who went 14th to Chicago, among others—that they were auctioning the choice.
Six teams inquired about pick number 22. Philadelphia got four solid offers. Though it was reported by Jay Glazer that the Vikings and Browns jousted for the 22nd pick (absolutely true), they were not alone. The source said that another team, not Minnesota, was the leader in the clubhouse when Eagles GM Howie Roseman told Cleveland GM Ray Farmer with three minutes left in the 10-minute draft period that he had to make a better offer than the one Cleveland had on the table.
Minnesota and Cleveland wanted Johnny Manziel. But it’s clear that the second-place finisher, which already had a good quarterback, wanted another player at 22. I wish I knew that other team. I do not. I don’t believe it is Houston. Cleveland, as I reported Monday in my column, did sweeten its offer to move up from 26 to 22, by improving its last offer to the 26th pick and 83rd overall. (I don’t know what Cleveland’s offer was before this, but GM Ray Farmer had less than 30 seconds to improve it to Philadelphia’s satisfaction, and he did.)
If Farmer didn’t include the mid-third-round pick in the deal, Philadelphia absolutely would have made the deal with Team Unknown for the 22nd pick. Cleveland would have had to move on. In that case, Cleveland would have called Kansas City at 23 and Cincinnati at 24 to try to get a deal done. I am told Kansas City would have been receptive to an offer for the 23rd pick, but Cincinnati, in love with cornerback Darqueze Dennard, would have held onto the pick.
The finish line: Cleveland won. The anonymous team seeking a player other than Manziel finished second. Minnesota was third—obviously because the Vikings didn’t want to include the 2015 first-round pick. (I don’t blame them.) The Eagles would have likely made that trade knowing the three or four players they liked at 22 would have been gone at 40. And another anonymous team finished fourth.
First thing’s first: Nice to see that Teddy Bridgewater was Minnesota’s consolation prize following his comments on Tuesday. The crazy part? Cleveland appears to have been 30 seconds away from having to settle for their Plan B as well. Trader Ray’s finger was on the pulse, working the phones like mad, and was willing to do whatever was needed to get the players he wanted. The Browns may want to avoid the circus with Manziel, but there is little doubt that they feel—right or wrong—that he is their guy.