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2014 NFL Draft: Marla Ridenour's final thoughts on Browns, Johnny Manziel, Day One

By Marla Ridenour Published: May 9, 2014

1. Although I’ve covered the Browns since 1981, Thursday was the most stunning first round of the draft I’ve ever experienced. And that had nothing to do with the emotional ebb and flow as new Browns general manager Ray Farmer orchestrated three trades, then passed over quarterback Johnny Manziel with the eighth overall pick after the first two deals. Considering the lateness of the hour, it’s a wonder I didn’t scream like I did when the Browns selected University of Akron quarterback Charlie Frye right on deadline.

2. Not only did Farmer land Manziel at No. 22, but he picked up Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert to pair opposite Joe Haden, acquired the Buffalo Bills’ first-round pick in 2015 and kept No. 35 in the second round. I thought any trade would cost them No. 35.

3. The Bills paid a hefty price for receiver Sammy Watkins, who will be EJ Manuel’s go-to receiver, and that price also included a fourth-rounder in 2015. That seemed like a fleecing of the Bills.

4. With his gutsy moves, Farmer is on his way to erasing memories of Tom Heckert, the best general manager the Browns have had in the expansion era. But Manziel must pan out.

5. On Sunday I said the Browns’ organization is not capable of handling the media crush that will accompany Manziel, starting when he swoops into town today. Apparently they realize that. Pettine went through Tebowmania with the New York Jets. He said the front office will sit down in the next few days to discuss what needs to be done to cope with the onslaught.

6. But Pettine isn’t worried about Manziel being accepted in the locker room. “When he gets inside the building, we talked about it at length when we visited with him, what accompanies him isn’t really him," Pettine said. "He’s a competitor, he’s a great teammate, he’s passionate about football. I don’t think that comes into the building. We look at it as an opportunity to add a tremendous competitor to the roster.”

7. It’s laudable that Pettine is sticking to his pre-draft statement that he doesn’t believe in playing rookie quarterbacks. He’s creating an open competition between Manziel and Brian Hoyer. “Whether he was taken at 4 or going at 22, it will be a competition,” Pettine said. “I meant that when I said it. I don’t think you can hand jobs to people when they come in. It’s a situation where despite what’s around him and what’s following him, there will be that pressure to play him, we’re in the business of evaluating who will be the best quarterback for the Cleveland Browns to win football games and that’s who's going to play.”

8. It seems especially wise not to hand Manziel the job the minute he walks in the door because he carries the rap as a player with a sense of entitlement.

9. So much was made leading up to the draft about owner Jimmy Haslam wanting Manziel. But Farmer said Haslam didn’t try to influence the decisions that were made. “At no point did he try to push, shove or dictate the pace of what we were doing,” Farmer said. “He definitely added his interest level behind the discussions that were happening. He was allowing us to go to work.”

10. As Cavs beat writer Jason Lloyd (the creator of final thoughts) observed earlier on Twitter, “Joe Banner’s farewell to Cleveland was Johnny Manziel.” As it turned out, the Browns' trade of running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts that gave the Browns the Colts’ 26th pick turned into Manziel. From 26, Farmer could deal with the Philadelphia Eagles at 22.

11. Manziel said more than once that he felt like Cleveland was where he was supposed to be. The fact that he arrived with the 22nd pick, the same one that brought Brady Quinn and Brandon Weeden before him, seems like karma.

12. I used to chastize Phil Savage for treating what used to be the second day of the draft as an afterthought. Now the final six rounds seem like an afterthought, although there are still players I want. Could OSU running back Carlos Hyde be in the picture at No. 35? I'd love it, even though the Browns could be leaning towards a receiver. USC's Marqise Lee, perhaps?
 

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