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Browns GM Ray Farmer looking forward to talking with Johnny Manziel

Feb 20, 2014 -- 1:45pm

By Tony Grossi |




Extra Points …

Manziel-mania: Browns GM Ray Farmer is anxious to put his 15 minutes with Johnny Manziel to good use.

He will get that private time this week at the NFL Combine and use it to measure whether Manziel indeed intends – as he said in interviews last week in San Diego, CA – to put the Johnny Football persona behind him.

“What’s the first thing I’ll ask him? How big are your feet?” Farmer said with a laugh.

Manziel, expected to measure here at 6-0 and 210 pounds, reputedly has large hands (10 ½ inches, from thumb to pinkie) and feet (size 15). Proponents say big hands will lessen concerns about ball security and being able to spin the ball through the cold Cleveland winds.

Turning serious, Farmer said, “I think that reality is I really want to find out, from any player, who he is. How does he define himself? What would he say is his core character makeup? What does he think about the opportunity to play in the National Football League? Is it a privilege? Is it an honor? Is it a right?

“And how does he see himself impacting not only his own individual performance in a game, but how does he impact his teammates? What does he bring to the table that’s going to demonstrate that he can get the other guys around him to have success?

“Football’s probably the greatest team sport in my mind. So, I need guys that need the team concept and understand how to affect their teammates in a positive way.”

Johnny off the field: At Texas A&M, Manziel was suspended for one half of one game for signing autographs that were intended to be sold as memorabilia. He also left the famed Peyton Manning passing academy a day early, presumably after spending the previous night partying.

Farmer was asked if it is more important for a team’s franchise quarterback to be “cleaner” than players at other positions.

“I think they all need to be as good a people as they can,” he said. “I was told this by an older scout, an older coach: if you don’t have some dirt under your fingernails, you’re not really living life.

“We’ve all experienced some negatives and start to turn those into positions. So regardless of position, I do believe that we have to identify the most talented kid that maybe made some mistakes in the past, but he’s learned from them and turned them into positives.

“When you think the guy has gone through life and had no blemishes, no issues, that’s a little far-fetched for me. I think the guy that’s made some mistakes and learned how to grow from those are really guys we should be focused on.”

Johnny on the field: Manziel’s back-to-the-defense scrambling could be a problem with some coaches and teams. NFL draft analyst Mike Mayock described Manziel as a cross between Fran Tarkenton and Doug Flutie – shorter QBs who often circled several yards behind the backfield before turning and making throws, or runs.

Farmer said, “From a throwing standpoint, I think there are no exacts. Everyone does it a little bit differently. So regardless of the traditionalistic aspects of – does he stand in the pocket and do things this way? – the guy’s had a lot of success.

“So, we can talk about, was this the best throw? When a guy generates results we have to take that into consideration. Obviously his results have spoken highly of what he’s done at Texas A&M. I think he’s well within the means that he’s going to perform in this league and he’ll get that opportunity coming up.”

All of this over-scrutinization of Manziel is part of the process as Farmer figures out what to do with the Browns’ No. 4 overall pick in the draft. It may all become moot if Houston decides to use the No. 1 overall pick on Texas-native Manziel.

For his part, Farmer is trying hard not to tip his hand about even choosing a quarterback with the team’s first pick.

“We may not go that direction,” Farmer said. “It may not be what everybody thinks it will be, so there’s an opportunity for some curveballs.”

Anyone buying that?



Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi




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