The Cleveland Browns have created a little bit of national buzz with the way they’ve approached the quarterbacks in this year’s draft.
Instead of having the top brass attend the pro days of Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles to watch them throw, the team had its scouts do the work. Reportedly general manager Ray Farmer attended but did not not watch either throw. Coach Mike Pettine, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and quarterback coach Dowell Loggains have not attended any of the quarterback pro days. (It will be interesting to see what happens with Johnny Manziel on March 27.)
Ah, there's more. At the combine, the Browns reportedly did not spend any of their 15-minute interviews with the quarterbacks.
This has created some buzz. To the point that the esteemed Tony Grossi of WKNR ESPN-Cleveland has the Browns taking an offensive tackle fourth overall. (Ugh ... Sam-my Wat-kins, clap-clap, clap-clap-clap.)
How, the outraged say, can the Browns skip the workouts? Isn't that part of their job?
It’s led to questions ranging from whether they are disinterested in the quarterbacks or being deceptive in their intentions or are they flat-out incompetent (their past chases them in the case of the last question)?
Maybe they’re doing their job in a slightly different way.
Because really, what’s the big whoop?
• Scouts scout. That’s what they are paid to do. They watch players, break down their technique and provide evaluations. Scouts should be able to see a player's athleticisim in a workout. And the scouts have already spent months watching these players in the fall.
• The scouts, front office and coaches have reams of game tape and information to watch. If a guy is a player, he should show it better on the field rather than in the packaged environment of a pro day. Show me a team that changes its mind on a guy who struggles in games based on a pro day and I'll show you JaMarcus Russell. Game tape is light-years more important than a pro day; football is played on a field in mud and wind and rain, not in an antiseptic setting like a pro day workout.
• The Browns will only say they are evaluating every player, but the rules allow them to bring in the three quarterbacks for interviews and workouts in Berea. They no doubt will, and they can talk to them there for a day and have them throw. A 15-minute interview might be nice, but a day-long one is better. A pro day is interesting, but throwing in a less-controlled environment might even allow the team to better assess a guy’s fundamentals and skills.
In some ways, the Browns' approach is refreshing. They are letting people do their jobs, and Farmer isn't obsessing.
Can questions be asked? Of course. But questions always come up this time of year about a team, its approach and its decisions. The bottom line comes when players are picked.
The Browns have done plenty since 1999 to warrant criticism.
But it seems like jumping on the pile to criticize them over this issue.