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Browns GM Farmer makes big splash in first draft

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: May 09 2014 03:01:44 AM CDT
Updated On: May 09 2014 10:04:53 AM CDT
Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Cotton Bowl, Johnny Manziel

Mike Stone / Reuters

BEREA, Ohio -

On the first night of his first draft as general manager, Ray Farmer changed the face of the Cleveland Browns for years to come.

Farmer, who entered the draft with the fourth pick and the 26th pick in the first round, made three trades and ultimately netted cornerback Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State with the eighth pick and electrifying Johnny Manziel with the 22nd pick.

Farmer also acquired the Buffalo Bills' first-round and fourth-round picks in 2015.

Cleveland traded a third-round pick (No. 83 overall) to the Philadelphia Eagles to move up from No. 26 to No. 22.

Manziel said he would play with a chip on his shoulder because 20 teams passed on him in the first round. As he walked onto the stage to be hugged by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Manziel rubbed the thumb and index finger of each hand together, his money player signature.

"Obviously, the team really wants to win, and they want to win now," Manziel said. "I've been a winner everywhere I've been whatever the situation. I'm going to work extremely hard to put myself in the best position to continue that trend of being a winner."

The Browns could have had Manziel with the fourth pick or with the eighth, but Farmer gambled that Manziel would be available later in the round and won.

Manziel played two seasons at Texas A&M. He ran the ball 345 times. He won't be able to run as often in the NFL, but Farmer doesn't want to keep him on a short leash.

"We definitely like his ability to perform and make plays," Farmer said. "He's all things we talk about playing like a Brown; he's passionate, relentless, he plays fearless. He's competitive. We added a guy to our roster we thought could help us win."

Farmer said he texted incumbent starter Brian Hoyer, and Hoyer responded by texting: "Bring him on."

Before the draft, coach Mike Pettine said he prefers a rookie quarterback sit and learn. He is sticking with that philosophy, even with Manziel. That is fine with Manziel.

"Brian obviously is a very good player who I really do respect, and he's a teammate of mine now," Manziel said. "I'm going in to try and show these guys that I'm obviously here to compete and see what I bring to the table."

Coincidentally, seven years ago the Browns made a trade for the 22nd pick in the first round and took quarterback Brady Quinn. As with Quinn, Manziel expected to go higher. The cameras focused on him every time another player was chosen.

"I knew the TV part of it was going to come," Manziel said. "For me, it was a little nerve-racking, but at the same time, I went in there telling myself everything happens for a reason and that I would land wherever I did for a purpose. Whether I saw or knew the situation, I thought it would all work out for me, and I truly believe the situation did work out for me. I feel very blessed."

The Browns now have five quarterbacks on the roster -- Hoyer, Vince Young, Tyler Thigpen, Alex Tanney and Manziel.

Gilbert, 6-foot, 202 pounds, started every game for Oklahoma State the past three years.

The Browns traded the fourth pick to the Bills for the ninth pick. Farmer then moved up one spot by sending his fifth-round pick (No. 145) to Minnesota to draft Gilbert, the first cornerback selected.

"I can pretty much do it all," Gilbert said on a conference call from New York. "I can create turnovers and get the ball back to our offense. I'm just an all-around cornerback."

Farmer is not concerned about the rap Gilbert gets as a poor tackler.

"I know some people have questioned his tackling," Farmer said. "We cover like Browns. His tackling was good, but it doesn't necessarily need to be great. We understand exactly who he is, what he is. We think he can make plays for us. He's going to play relentless. He's going to play at the line of scrimmage and press people. He's able to do things we need him to do."

Gilbert intercepted 12 passes with the Cowboys.

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