Fresh off a week in Indianapolis, Browns executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown joined Cleveland Browns Daily for a wide-ranging interview that both reflected and peered toward the future.
The full video can be found at the top of the page. Here were the five highlights we plucked from an informative session.
1. Browns don’t use franchise tag
What Brown said at the top of his interview became a reality when 4 p.m. came and went without the Browns utilizing the franchise tag on one of their prospective free agents. Brown left the window open slightly when he met with reporters at the NFL Combine last week, but the situation never presented itself as the team continues its negotiations with some of its impending free agents.
“We're working through several,” Brown said. “Can't go into more detail than that. But we're working through them with a few guys.”
The Browns have not used the franchise tag on a player since 2012, when they placed it on kicker Phil Dawson for a second consecutive season.
2. Brown’s thoughts on free-agent quarterbacks
A handful of quarterbacks will be on the market when free agency opens next week, and Brown wouldn’t completely rule out Cleveland’s interest in one but reiterated why the Browns believe in using free agency as a supplement to their draft-based philosophy.
“If a guy at this point has solidified himself as a franchise QB, he's not on the market,” Brown said. “We're really choosing between guys that have done it and fallen out of that nomenclature of being thought of as a franchise guy or a guy who has the potential but hasn't risen to that level.
“It's possible we'll explore some of those guys when we have some discussion. My sense is quarterbacks like this rarely hit the market and if they are, there's probably a pretty (darn) good reason, so you better be cautious and know what you're buying.”
3. Inside the Combine interview room
Without providing too many specifics, Brown provided some details behind the team’s philosophy during player interviews at last week’s NFL Combine.
Teams are permitted to interview 60 players throughout the week. Interview sessions last no more than 15 minutes, so seconds can’t be wasted.
Each player, no matter how fast-paced the interview might be, requires a different approach, Brown said.
“It really does depend on the player and what he brings to the table,” Brown said. “There are certain guys you want to just feel out a little bit more from an X’s and O's standpoint. That's where Ray (Horton) and Pep (Hamilton) and Hue (Jackson) would lead the discussion primarily. There's other guys you want to just feel them as a person and that's where I may get involved. Others, there's some background information that we want to clean up and clear up and have a better understanding for. In those instances as well, there are times we'll have other folks lead the discussion specifically on that, whether it's security or psychologist.”
Brown said the experience was rewarding for the new coaches and members of the football operations department, who worked side by side with each other for the first time in this kind of setting.
“We had a really organized, well-run operation,” Brown said.
4. Status of the Browns draft board?
The skeleton of the Browns’ draft board was in place heading into the offseason, built through the analysis of Cleveland’s scouts, who spent the fall on the road from coast to coast.
After the Combine and through the rest of the time leading up to the draft, tweaks and adjustments are made based on new information and insights that can be gleaned from face-to-face interactions and discussions, Brown said. That new information includes medical data gathered at the Combine along with character evaluations.
“Character, you can eliminate a guy off your board, even guys that are very high up,” Brown said. “Our board will change over the next month a bit. To a large degree, we've got the skeleton of what we'll be looking at come draft day.”
5. One last hand size discussion
Asked if the team will eliminate a player based on not meeting a specific threshold, Brown acknowledged all of last week’s buzz about hand size for quarterbacks and used that as a launching point to explain the team’s philosophy.
“Not automatically, but we do pay attention to them,” Brown said. “There's enough data out there, you can look at that certainly size, weight, height, speed, hand size that can become a problem.
“Again, going back to the tape, if a guy can throw a ball and we've seen him do it in cold weather and otherwise not have a problem with a tight spiral, we're not going to get to the combine and decide his hand size precludes him from doing that when we've seen him do it.”