Eleven final thoughts after a roller coaster three days in Berea, which ended with a whimper and one pick on Saturday. That by no means erased Thursday's and Friday's hysteria.
1. The Browns went into the draft with 10 picks and ended up with six players as new General Manager Ray Farmer earned the nickname “Trader Ray” from his peers in the league. Farmer made five trades and ended up with extra picks in the first, fourth and sixth rounds in 2015.
2. For those trying to nail Farmer’s tendencies in his first draft, it appears that he regards late-round picks as trading chips to move up to get players he covets, like he did trading back into the third round to nab Towson running back Terrance West. So Farmer ended up with two more chips for next year.
3. I’m waffling on whether I believe Johnny Manziel will be the starter in the Sept. 7 season opener at Pittsburgh. On Friday I said no, on Saturday I thought yes. Sticking with yes for now, I believe this draft yielded three starters – Manziel, cornerback Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State and guard/tackle Joel Bitonio of Nevada.
4. Analyst Louis Riddick, the former Browns safety, said on ESPN radio Friday night (actually it was early Saturday morning) that Bitonio can beat out both guard Jason Pinskton and tackle Mitchell Schwartz right now. I can also see touchdown-maker West splitting time with Ben Tate or playing in goal-line situations. Cornerback Pierre Desir of Lindenwood has ball skills, but may need time to develop. If he’s a quick study, drafting two cornerbacks should keep Buster Skrine in the slot where he belongs.
5. My biggest question mark is Iowa’s Christian Kirksey, taken in the third round but projected by many as a fourth- or fifth-rounder. If he continues the Hawkeye tradition of pro-ready linebackers, he should challenge Craig Robertson. But I’m not betting that will happen this season.
6. Farmer didn’t deny the report that the Browns’ $100,000 analytical study said Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater was the best quarterback in the draft, yet the Browns picked Texas A&M’s Manziel instead. “I went to Duke, so I’m a nerd by trade,” Farmer said. But he said he uses such studies to “help you hone in and make a right decision.”
7. Farmer continues to insist that owner Jimmy Haslam had nothing to do with drafting Manziel, even though most feel strongly it was Haslam's pick. “I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that Jimmy Haslam at no point demanded, requested or tried to influence the process in any way,” Farmer said. “He definitely asked questions. But at the end of the day he trusted the football staff to make the decisions that we thought were the right decisions.” I want to believe Farmer, but Jay Glazer of FOX Sports insisted the Browns weren't taking Manziel. Glazer's sources usually don't steer him wrong.
8. Farmer confirmed that the Browns called Tennessee about moving up to the 11th pick from No. 26. They eventually traded with Philadelphia at No. 22 to get Manziel. But he wouldn’t say who the target at No. 11 was. It may have been Manziel.
9. Asked if he was surprised the Dallas Cowboys didn’t pick Manziel at No. 16, Farmer said, “I don’t know that I was surprised as much as I was happy.”
10. Farmer said he wasn’t nervous heading into his first draft. “I’m not really an up-and-down guy,” he said. “I’m pretty calm the majority of the time. I had more nerves playing sports than I do now. Before every game I played, I always had butterflies no matter how old I was. I don’t think I’m in the same position any more.”
11. Farmer was relaxed and more open after it was over. When he took the podium, he wished a Happy Mother’s Day to all those listening and those in the media room, singling out his mother, executive assistant Debbie Kruszynski and the Plain Dealer’s Mary Kay Cabot. It was a nice personal touch.