Thirty of the 32 teams witnessed Johnny Manziel's pro day spectacular, which matched the hype.
One of the two teams to skip seeing firsthand Manziel and top-15 receiver Mike Evans was the Chicago Bears, which wasn't surprising since they're set at quarterback and receiver for the foreseeable future.
The other team not there was the Cleveland Browns.
This is patterned behavior for them this offseason.
They have not attended the pro days of any of the other top quarterbacks — Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater or Derek Carr. (Little nugget of trivia: The Browns attended the pro day of Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garoppolo but didn't send head coach Mike Pettine, general manager Ray Farmer or offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.)
The Browns also didn't interview a single quarterback at the NFL combine.
And they are having fun with this. The Browns seem to enjoy keeping people guessing on who is the apple of their eyes.
Yet there's an excellent chance they'll be drafting one of these players and investing millions in him. They have a dire, decades-running need for a quarterback. At the moment, the Browns own three of the top 35 selections in the May draft, including two first-rounders and the fourth overall pick.
So what's the deal? Are they going to properly evaluate said players?
Some context: Most talent evaluators will tell you that the tape, what the players did on the field between the hashmarks on Saturdays, is the real meat of the equation. That comprises 98 percent of their football evaluation. The rest of this — combine and pro days — is for show. There's absolutely truth to that.
At least one person that was at Manziel's workout, Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer, appeared less than thrilled with the setup.
Mike Zimmer shrugged at Manziel's workout: "It was different. It was a different workout." Also called it a "sideshow."
— Charean Williams (@NFLCharean) March 27, 2014
Plus, the Browns plan to meet privately with Manziel, per several reports, along with the rest of the top available quarterbacks. That's what April will be devoted to. With the draft moved back two weeks, there is ample time to handle this process. The Browns also likely will stage their own private workouts with several of them.
The Browns might have decided that Manziel's pro day was going to be a circus — it was; a former president, the former first lady and the family dog strolled up in a golf cart — and decided to skip it and focus their energies elsewhere. And somewhere along the way, Farmer (who is going on his second month of being the GM but has years of scouting experience) just said, enough already. We're not tipping our hand on this QB business.
There's some smarts to what they are doing. They have a grade on these quarterbacks based on their on-field production, and they'll meet eye to eye with them and get a feel for their character, focus and desire to be great. They'll watch how they eat, look (or not look) tough questioners in the eye, and they'll listen to see how coached-up they are with their answers. All of that — the Browns should get a good picture of what they are getting ahead of time.
Is it the whole picture? No. They have passed on part of it. But then again, they might be eliminating some of the dog-and-pony aspect to this quarterback pageantry and opting instead for a clearer, more unobstructed view of what these quarterbacks are truly made of.
That, or it's the same old Browns missing the boat. Believe it or not, we're going to give Farmer, Pettine and the rest of the crew the benefit of the doubt on this one. It will be interesting to see how they play their hand in the draft and whom they end up taking.
- - - - - - -