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Senior Bowl

Ray Farmer explains his approach to scouting at Senior Bowl


MOBILE, Alabama -- Seated next to two of his top right-hand men, Ray Farmer sat two-thirds of the way up the visiting team bleachers at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on a sunny Wednesday afternoon. As the North Team's practice came to a close, he made a few final observations with Executive Chief of Staff Bill Kuharich and Vice President of Player Personnel Morocco Brown.

Farmer, who began his rise up the player evaluation ranks as a scout, was clearly comfortable. And though some of the Browns general manager's responsibilities have changed since he sat in this spot one year ago as Cleveland's assistant general manager, his Senior Bowl routine hasn't.

"The process is still the same," Farmer said. "For us, it's evaluating a guy's level of competitiveness, evaluating his ability to take the next steps. Truly, it's the first time you get a chance to watch a guy practice, watch him perform his craft and then turn around and interview him and talk to him that night."

There's good reason to maintain the routine.

At this time last year, Farmer gleaned his first impression of three future Browns: offensive guard Joel Bitonio, linebacker Chris Kirksey and cornerback Pierre Desire. Bitonio and Kirksey were among the most productive players on the entire Cleveland roster this season while all three impressed from a maturity standpoint from start to finish during their respective rookie years.

While reflecting on what he saw from this trio last year, Farmer advanced the reasoning he applied in 2014 toward the class of 2015.

"It's the same principles," Farmer said. "For us, we want to work through finding guys that we think can be Browns and then play within the roles and articulations of 'Play Like A Brown.' So those guys that come out here and they are passionate, they are competitive, they're relentless, they're accountable, all of those pieces of the puzzle we're looking for, and they're easily demonstrated in their day-to-day work out here on the field."

When a Senior Bowl practice comes to an end, the work for Farmer and his support staff has only just begun.

On Wednesday, for example, Farmer was tasked with analyzing the performance of offensive and defensive linemen. Other members of the crew will have similar responsibilities while the rest will have watched a completely different group of players. Notes are shared and film of the practice is parsed in order to confirm, negate or raise questions about what they'd just seen.

It's a significant piece of a puzzle that won't be completed until the 2015 NFL Draft, but Farmer couldn't stress this enough: It's only one part of a much larger body of work the Browns will use to decide whether a player is worth the investment.

"We'll go back and review guys that had good days, guys we felt that came out and demonstrated they're worthy of our attention," Farmer said. "One good day, one bad day doesn't make you, but it definitely gives us a chance to pause and kind of recalculate where we're at."

Check out the rest of this portion of Andrew Gribble's interview with Farmer by clicking on the video near the top of the page.

This article is part of the Road to the Draft series, driven by Liberty Ford.

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