Editor's note: Tony Grossi covers the Cleveland Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR.
NFL pre-draft press conferences historically are fruitless -- sometimes humorous --exercises in bait and hook. Media toss the bait in the water and hope to hook the GM into saying something to tip off his draft intentions and generate a story.
Alas, this year’s presser should be legitimately one-sided when John Dorsey faces his interrogators Thursday for the last time prior to the April 25-27 draft.
The Browns don’t have a selection until No. 49 in the second round. It will be pretty easy for Dorsey to beg off by saying, “How the heck do I know who will be available for us? We could take anybody.”
This will be Dorsey’s second pre-draft presser as GM of the Browns. Some clues might be gleaned from his inaugural one a year ago.
At the time, Dorsey owned the first and fourth overall selections, plus the 33rd and 35th. It was every GM’s dream draft situation.
One full week before the draft, the public debate at No. 1 centered mostly on quarterbacks Sam Darnold v. Josh Allen, with some portions in the national media and local fan base holding out hope for running back Saquon Barkley.
Little did everyone know at the time that Dorsey had already formed a solid consensus in the building for Baker Mayfield.
With another draft upon us, one with infinitely less intrigue, let’s do a fact check on the major comments Dorsey made at last year’s session.
On if his mind has changed at all about specific quarterback prospects during the process:
Dorsey said: “I think you have to have an open mind in this process. I think you have to listen to all of the information that is filtered to you. You also have to watch them play the game and who is best to impact [the game]. That is what I look at in games – who is best to impact [the game]? How do they play the game of football? Then are they good people? Do they love the game of football? Will their teammates like them? That is kind of how I look at things.”
The facts: It’s debatable how much of an open mind Dorsey had. In subsequent interviews, he said he latched on to Mayfield very early and spent “the process” getting everyone else on board. The rest of Dorsey’s answer certainly applies to Mayfield.
On reports a ‘friend of Dorsey’ says the Browns will select Allen No. 1 overall:
Dorsey said: “Really. What do I say? First off, who is ‘friend of Dorsey?’ Second of all, I’m going to tell you all I go black in this time of year. For a month, I don’t listen to radio, I don’t watch TV and I don’t pick up the newspaper. I think in scouting when you do that, you see the purity of information, you see the facts and you see the film without listening to the outside white noise. That is kind of why I always have done it.”
The facts: “Friend of Dorsey” was dead wrong. Might have been a plant not only to steer attention away from Mayfield but also to cloud Dorsey’s intentions at No. 4.
On if it easier to improve a quarterback’s completion percentage or correct fumbling, in regards to Allen and Darnold, respectively:
Dorsey said: “Let me sit here and think about it. You know seriously, that sounds like a trick question. We are not doing a trick question here. The only thing I really care about is do the guys win? Does he have accuracy? Does he have a strong arm? Can he throw the ball in the red zone and in tight windows? Can he drive the ball? At the end of the game, does he win? That is kind of what I look for.”
The facts: Again, Dorsey’s comments fit Mayfield to a tee.
On if playing in Cleveland and the AFC North has an impact on evaluating quarterbacks:
Dorsey said: “We all know that the elements in Cleveland play a role. We all say it and you all laugh at me when I say it, but I think hand size is important. With that being said, hand size in November and December in the elements when it is snowing, when it is raining, it is muddy, the hand size. That is what you were talking about in terms of the fumbles of Darnold. You are worried about that sometimes. So hand size.”
The facts: Mayfield’s hand size of 9 ¼ inches trailed those of Darnold (9 ¾) and Allen (9 7/8), but it passed the 9-inch threshold. In general, the elements were kind to the Browns, but on the coldest game day of the season – 28 degrees with a 23-degree wind chill in FirstEnergy Stadium – Mayfield had his most accurate passing game. He connected on his first seven passes and finished 18 of 22, including on-the-mark throws of 60 yards to Breshad Perriman and 51 yards to Jarvis Landry in a 26-20 win over Carolina.
On the likelihood of drafting a quarterback No. 1 overall or the possibility of trading the top pick:
Dorsey said: “I think I have said this consistently and I think that I said it to you about a month ago that I am going to consider all options. I am going to try to do what is best for this organization. I still have seven days before the draft. I still have to go through some of the processes. That is not to say that you know what? My phone is still on, the power is still on. We are going to do what is best for this organization regardless. Let’s say you do trade out and then you have to weigh the value of the player versus the trade so you have to play those two options, too. At the end of the day, you are going to do what is best for the organization.”
The facts: Dorsey never veered from Mayfield and never seriously considered trading the pick.
On if Barkley is still being considered for the No. 1 overall pick:
Dorsey said: “Why wouldn’t I? The guy is a really good football player. Absolutely. You cannot have enough of them on your team.”
The facts: Again, Dorsey never seriously considered taking Barkley No. 1.
On being open to trading first-round picks and if he would consider trading back up into the first round or if he likes having two early picks on Day 2:
Dorsey said: “I like having the first pick of Day 2. I do like that, but that is not to say that I wouldn’t try to package something together. If I felt that I could go up and get a player that would help this team, I wouldn’t [be against] package it up and move and go get that player. Again, I keep telling you, I am going to keep my options wide open, and determine the player versus the trade options.”
The facts: Dorsey used each of his top four picks without coming close to a trade – up or down.