General Manager Ray Farmer
When all of the picking was done and the last of a staggering five trades in three days was completed, Ray Farmer made what he had every reason to believe was a fair request of Cleveland Browns fans.
The first-year general manager, whose friends in player-personnel circles began calling “Trader Ray” during the NFL Draft, asked for trust.
The exact word he used was “patience,” but the point was this: the same organization that came out of the draft with what could very well amount to a minimum of three immediate starters and possibly a fourth (who also happens to be a franchise quarterback), plus three draft picks in 2015 (including a first-rounder), is the same organization that will handle what media reports insist will be an eventual glaring hole in the lineup.
It’s the same patience that was needed, but ignored by many of the team’s faithful, last Thursday night after the Browns moved from their fourth overall pick to No. 9 in exchange for the Buffalo Bills’ first- and fourth-round choices in ’15.
It’s the same patience that was needed, but ignored again by many of the club’s followers, when the Browns traded again to move up to No. 8, where they selected Justin Gilbert to fill the starting cornerback role opposite Joe Haden.
There was plenty of outrage from those who had assumed the Browns were maneuvering for the chance to select a certain quarterback named Johnny Manziel.
The Browns would, in fact, make another trade – their third of the night – to move from No. 26 to No. 22 to land Johnny Football.
And on Day Two, when fans and media began a full-throated clamor for the Browns to draft a receiver, they chose a likely starter at right offensive guard (Joel Bitonio), a likely starter at inside linebacker (Christian Kirksey), and made a fourth trade to re-enter the third round for a running back who easily could compete for a starting job (Terrance West).
And on Day Three, they enhanced their cornerback depth by grabbing a highly touted small-school prospect (Pierre Desir) and shipped their seventh-round pick to Baltimore for the Ravens’ sixth-round choice next year.
“There’s plenty of opportunity for us to address what everyone would believe is a need,” Farmer said. “In our opinion, again, there’s plenty of opportunity to add players, to change the roster and really make a difference.”
Receivers can be acquired in free agency and via trade. Time is definitely on the Browns’ side.
So is history.
“I’d like to ask everybody here one question: How many of the receivers that were with the Seattle Seahawks during their entire season last year and through the beginning of the playoffs were drafted players?” Farmer asked. “(Golden Tate) was out for a considerable amount of time, but the vast majority of those guys were not drafted. There’s definitely an opportunity to play with and identify talented players that can help your football team.”
That isn’t to say that Farmer saw no help in what was widely viewed as an exceptionally talented draft class of wide receivers. He recognized that that position, in accordance with most projections, accounted for five first-round choices.
It’s just that the Browns, based on their definition of need and value, were convinced they were better off making the choices they made at other positions, particularly once the draft entered its second day.
“When, in our opinion, the most talented of that (receiver) group was surpassed, we weren’t in a position to take the top-rated guys we had on our board; those guys had already been drafted,” he said. “To that end, we took the players that we thought best helped our football team at different positions.”
Now, Farmer is asking for patience … and trust … as he goes about the process of finding additional help.
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