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2020 NFL Draft

Browns alter way they prepare for NFL draft with more collaboration

Though he was still preparing for the NFL draft in a different role, Ray Farmer was flying by the seat of his pants at this time last year.

In February 2014, Farmer was promoted by owner Jimmy Haslam to become the club's general manager. In the whirlwind of three months that followed, Farmer was able to bolster the roster and the players he brought aboard helped improve the Browns' win total by three games.

But now, with a full offseason of preparation, Farmer feels like he's strapped his boots in the ground with a firm framework of how Cleveland operates in the NFL draft.

One of the reasons why the Browns are so comfortable in Year 2 together is because of some of the structural changes that were made.

Farmer said he purposely put a plan together that blurred the line between scouts and coaches. Early on in the offseason, the two previously separate factions of the building pooled their resources together, flushed out conversations and got more on the same page.

The coaching staff even made trips to visit the prospects themselves, including defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil, who had dinner with Utah pass rusher Nate Orchard in Salt Lake City, Orchard said on Cleveland Browns Daily.

"Our group and how we kind of come to these answers is really collaborative," Farmer said Thursday during his pre-draft press conference.

Perhaps the biggest difference on the front office side this offseason has to do with those closest to Farmer.

Vice President of Personnel Morocco Brown and Executive Chief of Staff Bill Kuharich were both hired by Farmer last May after the draft already occurred. Both are considered right-hand men to Farmer.

Brown created a name for himself as the director of player personnel with the Redskins from 2008-2013, signing Pro Bowler cornerback DeAngelo Hall and wide receiver Pierre Garcon, who set the franchise record for receptions in 2013.

Farmer and Brown used to wage these encounters over players in free agency and Cleveland's GM grew found of how Brown evaluated talent.

"It's like playing battleship," Farmer said last spring of the competition he and Brown had during several free agency periods. "He kept sinking my battleship, which means he understands the game the same way I do, of guys that can play and perform in the National Football League."

Kuharich, 61, is so well respected around the league, the New York Jets requested to interview him this offseason for their general manager vacancy. Entering his 27th year working in professional football, Kuharich is best known as the lead personnel man of the Chiefs in the mid-2000s where he had a large hand in bringing Hall of Fame offensive lineman Willie Roaf, running back Priest Holmes and quarterback Trent Green to Kansas City. He also served as the GM and team president of the New Orleans Saints in the 1990s.

With elite talent evaluators like Brown and Kuharich in the fold, Cleveland's fortified front could lead to a coup in the draft.

 "At the end of the day, I know myself, Morocco Brown, Bill Kuharich and Mike Pettine have spent a lot of time the last several weeks kind of locked behind doors kind of putting the finishing touches on where we think we are in the draft and who we like and, again, what that plan and what that contingency plan would look like moving forward," Farmer said.

The first round of the NFL draft is a week from today, April 30 in Chicago.

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