Cleveland Rookie GM Rocks The NFL Draft
In his first draft as an NFL general manager, Ray Farmer made moves that would only be expected out of a crafty veteran like Ozzie Newsome. He was able to add a lockdown cornerback and a potential franchise quarterback all while accumulating valuable draft picks that could be crucial in rebuilding the Cleveland Browns franchise.
In a move not many people expected, Farmer traded the 4th overall pick to the Buffalo Bills for the 9th overall pick and the Bills’ 2015 1st and 4th round picks. In judging this pick strictly by the NFL Draft Value Chart, the Browns were big winners here. Unless the Bills are able to make a big jump in their second year under head coach Doug Marrone, the Browns likely landed themselves an extra pick in the top half of the 1st round in 2015.
Farmer used the 9th overall pick, combined with the 145th overall pick, to move up the 8th slot to take arguably the top cornerback in this year’s draft class, Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert. Gilbert, paired with Joe Haden, gives the Browns one of the most talented cornerback duos in the NFL.
Farmer and the Browns weren’t done following the Gilbert selection. The Browns still held the 26th selection in the draft, a pick they acquired from their midseason trade of running back Trent Richardson. With Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater both reliving Aaron Rodgers’ worst Draft Day nightmare, people began to speculate on what Cleveland would do about their quarterback situation. The buzz around the league was that the results of a pricey analytical study done by the Browns scouting and personnel department told them Teddy Bridgewater was projected to have the best chance at long-term success in the NFL.
When news broke of the Browns trading the 26th and 83rd picks to the Eagles in exchange for the 22nd pick, many people, myself included, expected Bridgewater to be the choice. Farmer pulled off the most talked about move and took the biggest name in the draft by selecting Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Landing Manziel, who many thought was a top five lock, at the 22nd overall spot was a steal. Farmer was able to mitigate the risk of taking a boom-or-bust quarterback like Manziel early in the 1st round. Had Cleveland taken Manziel with the 4th pick, his rookie contract would have paid him roughly $20 million and virtually guaranteed he would be the Browns’ Week 1 starter. At the 22nd pick, Manziel will make roughly $8.25 million on his rookie contract.
The Browns ended the 1st round of the 2014 NFL Draft with the best cornerback in the draft, the biggest name in the draft, and an extra 2015 1st round pick. Only time will tell if the curse of the 22nd pick (Brady Quinn and Brandon Weeden) hold true, or if the circus following Manziel has the “Tebow-effect”, but in his first draft as a GM, Farmer looked like a seasoned veteran.