Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel is surrounded by the media as answers a question during a news conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014.
Another NFL Draft season for the Cleveland Browns means it’s overreaction season.
Case in point: Feigned outrage on social media and on Northeast Ohio’s sports talk radio stations about the Browns not formally interviewing Johnny Manziel at the NFL Scouting Combine last month.
They’ll have plenty of time to talk to Manziel and any other quarterback prospect they deem worthy of their attention in the coming weeks. They might even have the chance to talk to a prospect or two in whom they aren’t truly interested.
There’s a method to this.
The Browns have this month to watch Manziel. They’ve had every month since approximately Oct. 2012 to watch Manziel. Between his March 27 pro day, formal pre-draft visits, private workouts and just about anything else they might request, there will be more than ample opportunity for the Browns decision makers to dig every bit of info out of any prospect from whom they try to dig.
Johhny Football is currently Johnny Job Seeker. He’ll oblige.
He has already said as much. Remember before the combine when Manziel did a smartly-planned mini media tour during which he pretty much dared the Houston Texans, who hold the No. 1 overall pick, and the Browns (No. 4) to take him?
The Browns were smart to let that buzz die down, even if they’d made such a decision before Manziel made headlines by saying he could take the team to the Super Bowl. There are lots of teams with lots of questions for and about Manziel, and it’s hard to see a reward for being first.
In fact, the Browns in-house radio show that airs every day on one of the team’s Cleveland radio partners said on Tuesday the team did not formally interview any quarterbacks in Indianapolis.
That sounds like a plan. It’s a unique strategy, sure, but it’s a sound one.
For 15 years, the Browns have been constantly changing. This time around it’s been really swift — and strange — with new coach Mike Pettine just being hired in late January and the previous guys at the front of the draft room being fired two weeks later. That means the Browns have a new, first-time general manager in Ray Farmer to go with their new, first-time head coach and a bunch of guys in the building with big responsibility and big paychecks who might still be wearing name tags in an effort to get to know one another.
They need to be on the same page before any decisions can be made. The May 8 start of the draft is still two months away.
Add the fact that this year’s draft has a record number of underclassmen entries and a case can easily be made that the Browns 60 formal combine interviews were better spent on other players and positions who aren’t so high profile or may not make the list of 30 formal visits later.
I’m the first to admit I hate letting procedure, research or even facts get in the way of a good story, but the bottom line with Manziel is that Farmer watched him in person in September and every decision-maker at every level in every NFL organization has known since last summer that Manziel would be declaring for this year’s draft. Every one of those people has been watching Twitter and television for every bit of JohnnyMania, too, and knows what he wants to ask Manziel when that time comes.
The teams with real questions and/or interest will make time for that. Whether those answers change anything about Manziel’s draft stock or standing with any team, we will probably never know.
That’s an awfully important thing to remember during overreaction season, too.
Momentum is real during draft season, but it doesn’t come from any tweets, headlines or call-in show arguments. Radio hosts get paid to spark discussion, not to be informed. If teams truly have changed their opinions on Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater or any other top player in the eight weeks since bowl season concluded, there’s no reason to share that information.
We don’t know that the Browns will get this thing right. We have no idea if they grade Manziel an A-plus or a C-minus. We do know they’ll continue to do their homework in an effort to finally get it right. Farmer and Pettine know fully well what happened to the last guys.