2014 NFL Draft: Browns GM Farmer answers the bell
First-time general manager Ray Farmer had a pretty stellar debut Thursday, trading down from No. 4 to raise eyebrows but Cleveland was smiling by the end of the night. The Browns bagged top cornerback Justin Gilbert, No. 2-rated QB Johnny Manziel and a 2015 first-round pick.
With 20 different starting quarterbacks and eight different head coaches since 1999, the Cleveland Browns are hungry for stability.
General manager Ray Farmer said Thursday that was his focus when he moved back in the draft -- from fourth overall to ninth, and then up one spot in a second trade -- to select Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert. It just took some time for the vision to materialize.
Two hours after drafting Gilbert, the Browns made their third trade of the night, moved from 26 to 22 and drafted 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.
In Manziel, the Browns get their quarterback of the future, one to possibly challenge Brian Hoyer in 2014, and give the fanbase great reason for optimism.
That might be the climax in Cleveland, but the draft should only get better with multiple picks in the second and third round to further improve a highly talented roster.
"Joe Haden, Justin Gilbert, (free agent addition) Donte Whitner -- I'm getting excited," Farmer said. "I probably shouldn't go there. We're excited about having corners that we think can go out, play press, get after people and give us a chance to turn the ball over. We've improved our defense. We're going to do some other things to make our overall team better, but we definitely like the corner combination that we're going to have. Hopefully, we keep those guys together for a long time."
Gilbert might have been available with the ninth pick, but Farmer traded a fifth-round selection to the Minnesota Vikings to make certain he added the second tall, physical corner that new head coach Mike Pettine wanted.
"Justin Gilbert the player -- He's long. He's fast. He's explosive. He's a playmaker," Farmer said. "He plays like a Brown. No. 1 thing we talk about when we talk about corners is they've got to cover like Browns. He's got great arm length. He's got the speed. He's got the ball skills. I know some people have questioned his tackling. We cover like Browns, tackling was good, but it doesn't necessarily need to be great. We understand exactly who he is, what he is."
When Cleveland was on the clock at No. 4, only one quarterback -- UCF's Blake Bortles to Jacksonville -- was off the board. Farmer remained patient and followed a plan that might finally give the Browns a future.
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