Farmer on Johnny Manziel, quarterbacks

February, 20, 2014
Feb 20
4:25
PM ET
INDIANAPOLIS -- General manager Ray Farmer said the Cleveland Browns don't necessarily need to use a top-10 pick in the draft to find their franchise quarterback.

What he didn't say is that it sure helps to have said pick.

The Browns are in a situation where they have Brian Hoyer but want to add a quarterback to their roster. Farmer admitted as much Thursday when he said competition drives the league.

But when asked if he had to upgrade the quarterback spot, Farmer said: "The reality is we want to upgrade our football team."

[+] EnlargeJohnny Manziel
John David Mercer/USA TODAY SportsJohnny Manziel is one of the most polarizing players entering the 2014 draft.
The top three quarterbacks in this draft are Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel. Questions about Manziel dominated Farmer's time with the Cleveland media, and though Farmer was careful not to tip his hand, he did address some issues related to Manziel and other quarterbacks.

Farmer listed key attributes in what he wants in a passer: a winner, smarts on the field, the ability to think quickly and process information.

"They'll talk about different athletic aspects, can he move in the pocket, etc.," Farmer said. "But I truly believe that a guy being able to accurately throw the football, make quick decisions and process and throw from what I call a quote-unquote crowded pocket. Guys who can play in those instances [have] critical factors in my mind of what the quarterback needs to be able to demonstrate he can do."

He admitted he's seen all the football he needs to see of guys, and from this point it's up to the players how they present themselves. But when asked what the first thing he might ask Manziel, he quipped he'd ask how big Manziel's feet really are.

Reportedly, Manziel wears a size 15 shoe and has hands large enough to overcome his height (6-feet).

Then Farmer got serious and said he wanted to know how Manziel wished to present himself.

"I think that reality is I really want to find out, from any player, who he is," Farmer said. "How does he define himself? What would he say is his core character makeup? What does he think about the opportunity to play in the National Football League? Is it a privilege? Is it an honor? Is it a right? And how does he see himself impacting not only his own individual performance in a game, but how does he impact his teammates? What does he bring to the table that's going to demonstrate that he can get the other guys around him to have success? Football's probably the greatest team sport in my mind. So, I need guys that need the team concept and understand how to affect their teammates in a positive way."

To Farmer, knowing a player matters.

"We spend a lot of time and a lot of resources on trying to figure out the person," he said. "As we make those definitive answers, as to do we like this guy, do we want this guy in our building, is he good for who we want to be, is he good for our community."

He does not, though, expect a player to be an angel.

"It's hard to think that somebody is not going to have a little bit of dirt underneath their fingernails," he said.

Manziel has some dirt -- getting arrested in June 2012 for disorderly conduct and being investigated by the NCAA for allegedly accepting payments for autographs (the NCAA did not find any evidence) -- though it's nothing compared to marks some others have on their résumés. Manziel's could be excused as youthful indiscretion, but the dirt is there.

Farmer wants to hear how he's learned and grown from them.

"When you think the guy has gone through life and had no blemishes, no issues, that's a little far-fetched for me," Farmer said. "I think the guy that's made some mistakes and learned how to grow from those are really guys we should be focused on."

He said Manziel has his own style, but he's produced impressively with that style. He said that with a quarterback, there are many ways to get the job done, as long as it gets done.

Safe to say, then, that the Browns will be drafting a quarterback high?

"It could be safe," Farmer said, "but we may not go that direction. It may not be what everybody thinks it will be, so there's an opportunity for some curveballs."

Pat McManamon

ESPN Cleveland Browns reporter

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