July 30, 2014

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Browns GM Ray Farmer says he’s ready for draft, discusses top prospects

BEREA – Ray Farmer’s first draft as Browns general manager is less than two weeks away. He said Monday he’s ready.

Farmer met with the media for a half-hour to preview the draft May 8-10. He didn’t reveal his plans but discussed many players and issues.

Here are some highlights:

** Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel off the field.

“I don’t think I have any reservations about who Johnny is,” Farmer said. “We had a lot of conversations and spent a lot of time with him. He’s a good young man.

“You don’t get a handbook for how to operate in certain instances so when you go from being a kid in 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, how to handle paparazzi, how to handle people coming up to you at dinners. He will tell you very candidly that it’s probably not how he would have written it up, but you live and you learn. And that being said, there’s good things ahead for him, it’s just a matter of how does he handle that when he gets to his new destination.”

** Manziel on the field.

“Again, exciting, electric. He’s dynamic,” Farmer said. “You look at what he is as a football player, the guy turned a lot of heads. He won a lot of games. There are things definitely to be excited about.

“The questions everybody wants to talk about are is he big enough? Is he going to get hurt? Is his arm strong enough? Again, he’s different. He’s not the quintessential everybody looks at and points to and says, ‘This is exactly how you draw it up and this is the packaging you want.’ Again, that speaks to a lot of who and what Johnny has been his entire life. It’s different. It’s not how you generally think of playing the position and being effective from the pocket, but the guy has definitely been a very good college football player.”

** The poor pro day of Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

“Teddy’s a good college football player,” Farmer said. “Definitely, I think he’s had the burden of dealing with answering the questions of the differences between his pro day and his performance. Oddly enough, I think there was a lot of media speculation that he was the top quarterback going into the offseason. It really comes down to guys in my position deciding, do you hold onto the tape? Do you hold onto a private workout? Do you hold onto his pro day. And all of those pieces kind of factor into it.

“But again, it really comes down to how does he play football. The analogy that I keep throwing out is, if we went outside and shot the basketball, I can’t hit a shot. I just can’t buy a bucket, I can’t make a layup. I can’t really dribble. I dribbled the ball off my foot twice and it’s gone out of bounds. But then every time we play I score 30, 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, so that’s the way I look at it. It really comes down to how does the guy play football?”

** Is there any quarterback in the draft class worth the No. 4 pick?

“That’s interesting because if I say yes, people will make the assumption that we’re going to take a quarterback at four,” Farmer said. “If I say no, they’re going to make the assertion that we’re going to pass on a quarterback. So I’m going to plead the fifth. So inevitably for us it’s best to stay quiet as to who is graded where and where those guys really sit on our board.”

** South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney’s work ethic.

“Do I have any questions about it? None,” Farmer said. “As we get closer to the draft, the more you’ll see smoke. It’s not as substantive as people may think it is. But it’s interesting to talk about.

“Is he supremely talented? Yes. Do people wonder about certain pieces of his game? Sure. But the more you overthink it, we could shoot holes in all of these guys. Every single guy in the draft, you could shoot him full of holes and say this is wrong with him, this is wrong him, this is wrong, but the reality is you want to take the time to really unearth what can this guy do, how can he help your program and can this guy be a difference-maker, and I think Jadeveon Clowney could do those things.”

** The impact Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins could have with the Browns.

“Big, big, really big, ginormous,” Farmer said. “He’s a good football player. He’s explosive. He’s got really good hands. He’s demonstrated he can run all the routes. He can be productive. So saddle him on the opposite side of Josh Gordon and wow.”

** Buffalo outside linebacker Khalil Mack, who will likely be in the mix at No. 4.

“Really good football player, explosive, he can rush the passer, play in coverage, he can do a little bit of everything,” Farmer said.

Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @scottpetrak.

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