- Pat McManamon, ESPN Staff Writer
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Browns general manager Ray Farmer was gracious with his time but stingy with the hard news when he met the Cleveland media at the NFL scouting combine.
Farmer talked a lot of theory but wouldn't even admit that he planned to meet with the three top draftable quarterbacks while in Indianapolis (Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater).
"That makes it too easy for you guys," he said with a smile.
Let's assume he'll meet them all, if not this week then at a later point.
Because Farmer emphasized that as he evaluates the possible draftees, he's already done the football work. Now he's focused on the person.
"These guys have been judged on how they play football," he said. "The athletic gifts and the tools they'll display on the field [in workouts] are really just confirmation of what your eyes saw. What you really want to look for in these events is to truly get to the core character of the kid."
It would seem to be tough to judge a player's character in one 15-minute interview, so this would just be the beginning of Farmer's foray into running his first draft -- with said draft being two-and-a-half months in the future. But he handled much of the pre-draft subterfuge like a seasoned pro. He declined to say if he would use the franchise tag on T.J. Ward or Alex Mack, declined to say what would happen with Davone Bess and said this draft presents the opportunity for "a lot of curveballs."
He also said a franchise quarterback does not have to be drafted in the Top 10.
To think that Farmer would even have a clear notion of what might happen with the fourth and 26th picks with the draft just less than three months away is borderline preposterous. But if preparation is the key to success, Farmer seems more than prepared already. He said he has a clear idea of his draft board, and he said he and coach Mike Pettine have prioritized needs and how they might address those needs.
The quarterback was much discussed, and Farmer offered few clues as to specifics, but did talk in generalities.
He wants to give Brian Hoyer competition because he said competition drives the league. And he did give a pretty clear notion of what he wants in a quarterback -- calling accuracy and the ability to process information quickly and efficiently vital.
What's the first thing he'll ask Manziel?
"I really want to find out, from any player, who he his," Farmer said. "How does he define himself?"