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2014 NFL Draft: Transcript of Browns GM Ray Farmer, HC Mike Pettine press conference

By Ryan Lewis Published: May 9, 2014

Browns general manager Ray Farmer and head coach MIke Pettine held a press conference with reporters following the first round of the NFL Draft. 

The Browns selected Oklahoma State CB Justin Gilbert and Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel in the first round, and made some trades, including one that nabbed the Buffalo Bills' 2015 first-round and fourth-round picks. 

Below is a transcript. 

On the Browns' reaction to drafting Manziel:

Farmer: “The reaction in the room was positive. We knew we were going to bring him to Cleveland at some point, given the opportunity. An opportunity presented itself, and we took that chance.”

 

On when the Browns decided to go after Manziel:

Farmer: “I’d probably say during the middle of the draft. We took the opportunity to take the players that we had in the order that we had them ranked. When the opportunity presented itself, we took those liberties. The one thing I think that everybody was concerned about with us was what was the big plan at four, and in our minds, there was a plan at four, and we had an opportunity to do some other things, we took those. As guys made themselves available for value we thought was out there, we definitely made those leaps and those adjustments.”

 

On why the Browns preferred Manziel over other available quarterbacks:

Farmer: “The other quarterbacks that were available, I’ll stay focused on Johnny. We definitely liked his ability to perform and make plays. We liked a guy that brought all the things when we talk about Play Like a Brown. He was passionate, he was relentless, he played fearless, he was competitive and we added a guy to our roster we thought could help us win.”

 

On when the Browns realized Manziel might be available at No. 22 overall:

Farmer: “We’d monitored the situation. We thought we had a good beat on what team needs were. We followed the draft intensely. We made a good point of making several phone calls to try to identify where other teams may be. As we saw those needs being filled, where we felt he might go, then we made our play at what we think was the right time.”

 

On incorporating Manziel’s celebrity and creating normalcy in the locker room:

Pettine: “When he gets inside the building – we talked about it at length when we visited with him – what accompanies him isn’t really him. He’s a competitor. He’s a great teammate. He loves to get in and he’s passionate about football. I don’t think that [celebrity] comes into the building. We looked at it as an opportunity to add a tremendous competitor to this roster. What follows him for us was not a big factor in the decision.”

 

On Manziel as a quarterback:

Pettine: “Ray already referenced it: he fits the Play Like a Brown mentality. He’s tough. He’s passionate. He’s a gym rat. He loves football. He can process information very quickly. He can improvise, make plays with his feet. I think that’s important in today’s game.”

 

On what the Browns asked Manziel during their visit to College Station, Texas:

Pettine: “How much does he love football? How much does he know football? That’s not just him; anybody that we get a chance to meet with individually, those are really the two things that we want to know, how passionate are they about the sport and then what’s their acumen. How much do they know? What’s their IQ?”

 

On defining Play Like a Brown, considering the team’s record the past six seasons:

Pettine: “It’s really a list of attributes when we put that out there. We’re not meaning it literally like that. There is a list of attributes that we’ll attach to it. It’s the ones we already mentioned. It’s passion, competitiveness, tough, mentally tough, physically, tough, accountable. Bundled up in that, it’s a list of intangibles. It’s not how high they jump; it’s not athletic ability. It’s a definition for us moving forward. When we put a tag on a guy and say, ‘He plays like a Brown,’ that’s the biggest compliment you can give him.”

 

On taking DB Justin Gilbert in a trade rather than LB Khalil Mack or WR Sammy Watkins at No. 4 overall:

Farmer: “Like I said, I thought there was an opportunity for us to improve our roster, as well. There were other good players in the round where we were. We felt like, at the time, there was a trade opportunity, and in that, we were able to secure some more resources for moving forward with the team and building the team long term.”

 

On how selecting Manziel at No. 22 overall rather than four changes expectations and pressure:

Farmer: “I don’t know if it makes that big of a difference. From our minds, the whole purpose behind taking any of these players is to drive competition on our roster. I think we stated that all along, that we really want to add guys to this team that we think could be starters, at every position. As we continue to improve our roster guy by guy, the competition level will improve. Whether it was four, whether it was 22, 18, I don’t know that it necessarily mattered. We just wanted a guy that we thought could compete to be a starter in this league.”

 

On Owner Jimmy Haslam’s role in the draft and influence picking specific players, particularly Manziel:

Farmer: “Jimmy is what he’s been the entire time. He asked a lot of questions. He wants to be involved. He’ll make his position known, like we all do. It’s a very collaborative process. The coaches have input, the scouts have input; the board is ranked. Nevertheless, there are several other people that are involved in that as well. At no point during the draft did Jimmy try to influence the decisions that were made. He was well aware – obviously, he was in the room – but at no point did he try to push, shove or dictate the pace of what we were doing. He definitely added some interest level behind the discussions that were happening, but nonetheless, he was allowing us to go to work.”

 

On still feeling strongly about not starting a rookie quarterback:

Pettine: “I do. Whether he was taken at No. 4 or going at No. 22, it’ll be a competition, and 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 and 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, whether that’s Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel.”

 

On Manziel’s ‘it’ factor:

Pettine: “That’s the reason why I thought so highly of him when I personally evaluated him. Having been a defensive coach, I talked about deferring to the experts, (Browns quarterbacks coach) Dowell (Loggains) and (Browns offensive coordinator) Kyle (Shanahan), in regards to the technical quarterback play. What I evaluated with all the quarterbacks that we visited was the ‘it’ factor, the personality. I thought his is at an extreme level. It’s to the point where it’s really created ‘Johnny Football.’ The fact that he is all those things to an amazing degree – he’s ultra-competitive, he’s ultra-passionate; that he’s a guy that he just finds a way.”

 

On if entering the night the Browns thought they could receive a first-round pick in next year’s draft for No. 4:

Farmer: “I entered the night being true to our process. We knew there’d be interest at No. 4, and the goal for us was to make sure that if the player was there that we wanted, we’d select him. Not that we didn’t, we really just wanted to stay true to what we thought, as far as our process: making good decisions, acquiring resources and making sure we made sound decisions while there were players on the board that we would draft if we did move our position. At no point during the draft did we ever really focus on this is what we’re giving, this is what we’re getting and, man, that’s going to cripple us. It was all about resource allocation for us.”

 

On if going into the night the Browns thought they could make three trades and still keep No. 35 overall:

Farmer: “Sure. At any point in time, I think that every decision that we made, it was well thought out and well vetted amongst a number of people in the room. Again, I would be remised if I didn’t say this was not me just sitting up there playing the man behind the curtain. There were several people involved in the room that allowed us to make the trades and make the changes that we made. Talking through those positions, having Pett in the room, having the owner Jimmy in the room, having (Browns President) Alec Scheiner, (Browns executive vice president, general counsel) Sashi Brown, two (Browns college area) scouts that I’ve referenced before – Chisom Opara and Bobby Vega, having different people in the room allowed us to make this decisions. This was just not one person sitting up there deciding let’s do all these things.”

 

On how Manziel will be received by his teammates:

Pettine: “I think he’ll be received well because I think they’re going to see a guy that’s going to come in and go to work and compete right out of the gate and immerse himself in wanting to learn it. He’s not walking into the building with an entourage. He’s walking in as a teammate. When you’ve talked to the people at Texas A&M, people that have been around him before, once he’s inside the locker room, he’s one of the most well-liked guys on the team.”  

 

On Manziel’s height:

Farmer: “I don’t know if it ever really was a problem for me. I get that everybody has this preconceived notion that the shorter you are, there’s a problem or an issue. I would always contend that what history says, ‘No one in the NFL has had success under this height or etcetera.’ The reality for me is: how many quarterbacks in the history have been given the opportunity to who have been under six feet? To me, the game is changing, how we look at the game is changing. Either you evolve or get left behind.”

 

On if the player the Browns wanted fourth overall was taken in the first three picks:

Farmer: “I can tell you that the way we look at the draft is our board was set, and then as we looked at those bundles of players, it was never just one player that we ever considered at any one spot. It was, who’s available, how many of these names will be available when it’s our pick, and the multiple picks that may be available that we like in that same range, allowed us to make a move to where we felt like we’d still get the player or a really good player that we wanted at a different point in time.”

 

On if the Browns would have taken QB Blake Bortles had he been available fourth overall:

Farmer: I’ll tell you if he was there at four, but we obviously moved the pick for future resources as well.”

 

On if rookie cornerbacks can immediately be impactful:

Pettine: “I think they can be if you handle it right. There will be some situations… That’s why it’s nice to have Joe (Haden) on the other side to help Justin (Gilbert) out some, but we’re very confident in his ability and I’ve seen rookies that have been able to come in [and make an impact]. I’m confident in that group whether it’s Buster (Skreen) or Isiah Trufant that we don’t have to bring Justin in right away and hey, you’re out there every snap.”

 

On if it’s easier for a rookie corner rather than quarterback to play immediately:

Pettine: “I think so just because of the degree of learning, the complexity of learning an entire offense, what all 11 (players) have to do (on offence). I think for a corner you can really simplify it for him, but it is a lot to throw at a rookie to do that, but he’s going to come in and compete just like Johnny (Manziel) will compete on the other side.”

 

On concerns with Gilbert’s technique:

Pettine: “He’s an exceptional athlete. He has elite man-cover skills. The shortcomings of the things we feel are there are easily corrected through coaching so we were thrilled to be able to turn the card in.”

 

On if there was a need to talk Hoyer today:

Pettine: “We reached out to him.”

 

On Hoyer’s reaction:

Pettine: “As you would expect. I’ll keep it private, but it’s as you would expect from a guy who’s a competitor.”

 

On expecting Hoyer to say ‘bring him on’:

Farmer: “That’s what he said. I’m the one that texted him and reached out to him, and that’s exactly what he said.”

 

On Gilbert’s tackling ability:

Pettine: “In our system, we are not [using] a lot of a hard corner very often, where the corner is primary in run support so when a ball is going around the perimeter, the corner is the first line of defense. That’s very rare in our system. Our premium, when we look at and list the attributes of and say, ‘Here’s what we we’re looking for in a corner,’ the press-man coverage ability, the ability to eliminate a wide receiver and allow us to play 10 against 10 and do that with two guys and play nine against nine, that is a much higher premium than to be more of an outside-linebacker type. Since it’s further down the list, he was clearly our top corner because he fits our scheme. He might not have been the top corner for some other teams schematically that are more Cover 2.”

 

On coaching the Jets when QB Tim Tebow was with the team and lessons from it:

Pettine: “It was a little bit different being inside of it. I think I was insulated from it so I didn’t really get a sense of the scope of it. It’s something that in the coming days, I think we’ll discuss just how to handle it. Once we get Johnny (Manziel) here, it’s something that I’m not going to say is an issue or a problem, but it’s something that we’ll have to address and have a plan for.”

 

On how Shanahan’s experience with Robert Griffin III may have impacted the decision to draft Manziel:

Pettine: “I think the appeal there with Kyle, and I’ve mentioned this all along, one of the reasons I hired him was the flexibility in his system, that he can work with a quarterback like a Matt Schaub in Houston, and then go to Washington and work with RGIII and be able to adapt it. That’s one of the reasons that made this decision an easy one.”

 

On if the first-round selections gave the franchise a shot in the arm:

Pettine: The shot in the arm that I would rather give this organization is in the fall. We talked about that before, that talk is cheap; hype is exactly that. We’re thrilled that the city of Cleveland is abuzz about football, but we want that feeling to persist and we want it go deep into the fall.”

 

Farmer: “I concur.”

 

On the Alabama vs. Texas A&M game in 2013:

Farmer: “I thought there were a lot of good football players. I had a chance to evaluate a lot of good guys. I got a chance to see people live and up close to demonstrate their wears on the big stage. I think when you see guys in critical games and you see how they respond. I’ll give this nugget, as well: a lot of why I go to games, college games specifically is to watch guys on the sidelines. Who does he talk to? Who does he deal with? What are his body mannerisms? How does he interact with his teammates? How does he handle stress and pressure? You get a chance to see a lot about a guy between plays that most fans don’t pay attention to. They’re watching the ball while I may be watching a guy wander the sideline and handle adversity. Those are the moments to me that really make up guys that can go out and handle the things they’ll have to handle in the National Football League.”

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