The 2014 NFL Draft has come and gone with the Cleveland Browns adding six new players to the team. The team made headlines throughout the weekend (especially with the selection of quarterback Johnny Manziel) but what may be the real story is that the Browns were very active throughout the draft making five trades and acquiring three additional draft picks for the 2015 NFL Draft. This was the first draft for the newly named general manager Ray Farmer wherein he addressed several of the team’s needs and, juding by his thoughts throughout the weekend, seemed pretty comfortable running the draft as the man making all the final decisions.
Throughout the draft, Farmer showed the willingness to trade up, trade down, trade out, and stay true to the team’s board, all while taking into account head coach Mike Pettine’s opinion on what he looks for in a player.
Even with this being Ray Farmer’s first draft, he immediately drew a reputation in the league as a wheeler and dealer. His peers have given him the nickname “Trader Ray,” asking for such when making calls on Days 2 and 3. He was aggressive using his many picks to target players the team liked and went up to get them. “There were other times where we felt we were going to miss out if we don’t make something happen so we took the liberty to do those things,” Farmer said. As he stated in his post-draft press conference, the team will move up if necessary to get the player that is high on their board. They will also move down if the value they receive is better then just staying pat and selecting a player. Farmer said perfectly when he said, “I still think it was predicated on the player that’s available.”
Perhaps the most glaring of characteristics was shown by Ray Farmer during the three days of the 2014 NFL Draft was his staunch discipline on sticking to his draft board no matter what. Farmer trusted his pre-draft process and all the work he and his staff put into it. The Browns selected players based on the best available rather then skipping over players because of their needs. This was undoubtedly illustrated by the recent news about the possible suspension of wide receiver Josh Gordon. Even with knowledge of this news, the Browns stuck to their board and selected the player at the top of it, not selecting a wide receiver with any of their six picks. Farmer said, “Again, when you look at the number of wide receivers that were drafted and when they were drafted, I would tell you that we made the decisions that we made because we really valued the players that we got at a certain point. When, in our opinion, the most talented of that group was surpassed, we weren’t in a position to take the top-rated guys we had on our board; those guys had already been drafted.” He did not panic and reach for a wide receiver that may have been lower on their board.
The last major trend that the Browns showed during the draft was that head coach Mike Pettine had a huge influence on who the team picked. The selections of Justin Gilbert and Pierre Desir were a big example of how the Browns weighed in Pettine’s opinion. In Mike Pettine’s new defense, he requires good press coverage corners that can cover on an island. Farmer went and got the type of players that Pettine needed to in his offensive and defensive systems. The team also selected players who had the overall make-up Pettine wants on his team. Pettine wants tough, passionate, hard working players who Play Like Browns. These traits can be seen in all of the selections that were made over the three days.
I left the weekend very impressed with what Ray Farmer has done over the past few months. He is an aggressive general manager who trusts the people around him and also his own knowledge. Farmer has an overall vision of what he wants the team to look like. He has gotten players that are talented but also tough with other intangibles. I like how he works well with Mike Pettine, getting players who fit Pettine’s schemes. They are both on the same page, which is a nice change from the recent past turmoil that has happened in the front office. We will not be able to judge Ray Farmer until the team gets on the field, but so far it feels that we are in a better situation then we were at the end of last season.