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Monday, April 28, 2014
Browns GM talks top draft options

By Pat McManamon
ESPN.com

BEREA, Ohio -- General manager Ray Farmer did his best impression of Muhammad Ali on Monday, bobbing and weaving his way through numerous questions about the Cleveland Browns' draft plans.

Farmer even dodged a question about whether a quarterback was worth the Browns' first pick, the fourth overall selection.

Ray Farmer
GM Ray Farmer tried to provide as few clues as possible Monday as to who the Browns might target with the No. 4 pick in next week's draft.

"If I say yes," Farmer said in a pre-draft news conference, "then people will make the assumption that we are going to take a quarterback at 4. If I say no, then they will make the assertion that we're going to pass on a quarterback.

"So I'm going to plead the fifth."

Farmer's response was the typical pre-draft dodge, as teams are loath to even hint their leanings to other teams. About the most Farmer would say was that he didn't want to complicate things and instead wanted to concentrate on football.

His attitude toward quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was an example, as he addressed balancing the former Louisville star's success on the field with his poor performance at his pro day.

"If we went outside and played basketball and I can't make a shot ... but every time we play I score 30 and have 10 boards and five steals, do you want me on your team or are you going to pass me because I couldn't warm up right?" Farmer said.

The Browns have two picks in the first round: fourth and 26th. Farmer gave no indication he would trade up from No. 4 but seemed open to the possibility of moving up from 26. He also said he has a good idea how the top three will go and that he has a player in mind at 4.

Among the other thoughts he shared was that he has no reservations about Johnny Manziel as a person.

"You don't get a handbook with how to operate in certain instances," Farmer said. "When you go from being a kid from Tyler, Texas, to being 'Johnny Football' and winning the Heisman Trophy really quickly, they don't hand you a manual and tell you how to handle the media swarm, paparazzi, how to handle people coming up to you at dinners.

"He would tell you it's probably not how he would have written it up, but you live and you learn. There's good things ahead for him. It's how do you handle it when he gets to his new destination."

Farmer called the talent of receiver Sammy Watkins immense and said being able to draft him would be "ginormous."

"Saddle him on the opposite side of Josh Gordon and wow," Farmer said.

He also said the presence of Joe Thomas wouldn't keep him from drafting fellow offensive tackles Greg Robinson or Jake Matthews.

As for Manziel, Farmer was effusive: "He's exciting, electric. He's turned a lot of heads."