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Tony Grossi's Mock Draft 10.0: A surprise, new defensive player for the Browns with their second pick

Apr 24, 2015 -- 6:00am

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/ESPN

The Morning Kickoff …

Mock draft 10.0: Heading into the final week of draft speculation, Marcus Mariota remains the pivotal player of the April 30 lottery.

As many as six teams, including the Browns, are linked in some way to the Oregon quarterback. Where Mariota is ultimately taken, and by which team, will naturally affect the flow of the upper half of the first round.

In this mock, the Browns take two defensive players for the second week in a row.

For the first time, Virginia linebacker Eli Harold appears as the Browns’ pick at No. 19 even though Nebraska’s Randy Gregory is still on the board. We’re feeling that Gregory is red-flagged off the Browns’ board because of repeated positive marijuana tests.

The selection of Harold would seem too early for a player many evaluators project for the second round and with so many highly rated receivers still on the board. It’s very possible the Browns would be agreeable to trade out of this spot if they have the chance.

If not, they probably would still have a choice of receivers at No. 43 in the second round. A pass rusher of Harold’s skill set might not be available then.

Our final mock draft of the entire first round will post on Thursday.

1. Tampa Bay: QB Jameis Winston, Florida State

There is no scent of a trade at this point.

2. Tennessee: QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon

I’m fairly convinced Titans will move down.

3. Jacksonville: OLB Dante Fowler, Florida.

Not likely Jags would pass on this Gator.

4. Oakland: DT Leonard Williams, Southern California

Raiders will get their receiver in second round.

5. Washington: OLB Vic Beasley, Clemson

Assured of getting a dynamic pass rusher.

6. N.Y. Jets: DT Danny Shelton, Washington

Hey, now. This would throw a curve down below.

7. Chicago: WR Amari Cooper, Alabama

This is not an easy choice for a defensive head coach.

8. Atlanta: DE Shane Ray, Missouri

Falcons have a tough choice here and go with the safer pick.

9. N.Y. Giants: WR Kevin White, West Virginia

The “value” is there for this offensive playmaker.

10. St. Louis: OT Brandon Scherff, Iowa

This won’t play well in Los Angeles.

11. Minnesota: RB Todd Gurley, Georgia

Clears the path for trade of Adrian Peterson.

12. Cleveland: DT Malcom Brown, Texas

Truly a Brown who plays like a Brown.

13. New Orleans: CB Trae Waynes, Michigan State

Top cornerback trumps all other defensive players.

14. Miami: WR DeVante Parker, Louisville

Signing of Greg Jennings won’t block this selection.

15. San Francisco: DE Arik Armstead, Oregon

Sure feels like a natural pick for them.

16. Houston: OLB Alvin Dupree, Kentucky

Tight call over an offensive lineman.

17. San Diego: RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin

Highly ranked player fills a top need.

18. Kansas City: OL Cameron Erving, Florida State

Snatched before the Browns could take him.

19. Cleveland: OLB Eli Harold, Virginia

Much debate here about a receiver or trade down.

####

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

At the end of the day, speculating on the Browns' draft is what it is

Apr 23, 2015 -- 1:57pm

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/AP

Pre-draft waterboarding: At his pre-draft press conference, Browns GM Ray Farmer spun analogies about brewing coffee, about building a house, about a man dying of thirst in the desert.

He used the crutch phrase, “At the end of the day …” so much, you longed for the end of the day to come. Or at least the end of Farmer’s question-and-answer session.

He followed coach Mike Pettine’s lead in addressing rumors about the Browns’ intentions with the team’s seemingly-emergent new battle cry.

Would you seriously consider trading the No. 12 and No. 19 picks for Marcus Mariota?

“Sure, why not?”

Would you consider drafting a running back in the first round?

“Sure, why not?”

All of Farmer’s verbal gymnastics were crystallized in a stirring defense of his department’s evident negligence a year ago in ferretting out pertinent background information on 2014 first-round flops Justin Gilbert and Johnny Manziel.

“Not one iota do I feel we missed it or didn’t do it,” he said. “At the end of the day, there’s a balance between what you know and what you can expect and what you can change. End of the day, I do appreciate our staff and feel it does a really good job.

“We’ve taken extra steps in trying to challenge kind of what others can dig up and what they can figure out and what they would know and utilize to garnish a better idea for who a player is. The reality is, I think we do a really, really good job unearthing the information that’s out there.

“At end of day, you’ve got to believe what people tell you about kids. No team gets the luxury of living in whatever city for four years of understanding who that young man is. So you’re at the mercy of what people tell you. The information we got was consistent around the league, as far as I’ve been told.

“At the end of the day, the character background stuff is what it is.”

About Mariota: Unable to peg Mariota with the right quarterback-starved NFL team, all the national insiders point to the Browns as the desperate team willing to overpay for him in trade.

One reason is the Browns were aggressive last year and they are armed again with two first-round picks and 10 tradeable picks overall, most in the draft.

“I think the big thing for us now is the fact we have picks, regular picks, so we can move any of them,” Farmer said. “I think that’s what spurs people to call you, the flexibility you may have in the draft because of the number of picks you possess.”

Another reason is that Farmer for over a year has been tabbed as having a football man-crush on Mariota.

“I don’t know where this stuff comes from,” Farmer said, chuckling. “Last year somebody asked a question about Marcus Mariota and I answered it differently than everybody else I was talking about. I got to Mariota and said, ‘Yeah, he’s good.’ From that moment on, he’s been my guy.”

Yet another reason, of course, was Pettine’s off-the-wall hiring of Kevin O’Connell, Mariota’s personal guru in the pre-draft season, as Browns quarterbacks coach. On Thursday, Farmer confirmed the Browns did not privately work out Mariota this year or even invite him to Berea for a visit with owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam.

Was that non-invitation a smokescreen in itself?

“For us, when we have a good feel for a player, that’s what it comes down to. We think we know what he’s capable of, where he would fit for us. So there’s no reason to take that any further,” Farmer said.

In another context, Farmer reiterated the club’s support of Manziel in his recovery from a dependency problem.

“At the end of the day, he’s part of our organization moving forward,” Farmer said.

Yet, to another question about how taking a quarterback (Mariota) might affect Manziel, Farmer said firmly, “I have to make the best decision for the Cleveland Browns, not for Johnny Manziel, not for Ray Farmer.”

Predicting the unpredictable: Farmer is exceptional at leaving everybody guessing as to what the Browns will do. This seems to be his passion.

“I would (trade) up if it was the right circumstance and I would (trade) back if it was the right circumstance,” he said.

In his first draft, Farmer did both – trading down with Buffalo (for this year’s hole-card extra first-round pick), then trading up with Minnesota (for Gilbert), and then up again with Philadelphia (for Manziel). Those trades were conceived and consummated “on the clock,” throwing the Browns’ draft room into an emotional frenzy.

“You can play the what-if scenario 10 million times,” Farmer said. “Seems like we’ve played it so many times, you feel like you know where things are going to go, but it’s almost like going to the batting cage and you feel like you get in a rhythm and you know where it’s at, then there’s this curveball and one ball dives on you and you swing and miss like you haven’t been in there all day. That’s what the draft has become in my mind.

“There’s always going to be that one selection, that one move that nobody truly anticipated, and that’s what you’ve got to be able to adjust to.”

Last year, it was Buffalo’s generous trade offer to move up to No. 4 for Sammy Watkins, which resulted in the selection of Gilbert and then Manziel.

This year, the pivotal move figures to center on Mariota, whether he falls past Tennessee or another team at No. 2. If he does, watch the Browns swing their bat once again. Let’s all hope they get better wood on the ball this time.

####

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

Browns 2015 draft position preview: Cornerback and safety

Apr 23, 2015 -- 6:00am

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/ESPN

Sixth in a series analyzing the Browns’ draft needs.

Position: Cornerback.

Roster: Pierre Desir, Justin Gilbert, Joe Haden, Kendall James, Robert Nelson, K’Waun Williams, Tramon Williams.

Analysis: In his sixth NFL season at age 26, Haden is embracing a leadership role – which is the natural next phase of his pro development. Haden is sick of losing and if he can help make Gilbert, Desir and K’Waun Williams better players, it will only help the overall cause. To that end, Haden hooked up with Gilbert for over a month of training in south Florida. If Haden can get through to Gilbert, it would result in a big boost to the defense. Ex-Packer Tramon Williams, signed to replace Buster Skrine, is an experienced pro who can play Mike Pettine’s press man coverage. But the gas gauge is in red, so it would help the cause a lot if Gilbert could hold down the other outside spot and let Williams slide down to cover the slot. Desir, who sat most of his rookie year, came off the bench at the end and pleasantly surprised. He won’t need to be rushed in his second season, and should be able to contribute more.

Needs: Pettine always will seek to bring in a cornerback, one preferably with size who can play his press man coverage technique.

Top 3 prospects

1. Trae Waynes, Michigan State.

A thin six-footer who has the speed and quickness and aggressiveness to excel in press coverage. He might not have a lot of bulk, but he is not shy about sticking his nose in run coverage. Clearly the best at his position.

2. Kevin Johnson, Wake Forest.

Another pencil-thin corner with the skills and attitude to play any coverage and also not afraid to tackle, though he won’t be winning any bench-press contests.

3. Marcus Peters, Washington.

He has first-round talent but could be red-flagged by some teams. He was dismissed from the team in November of 2014 after several run-ins with coaches and team violations. Also has a failed drug test and an academic suspension on his record.

Under radar

Quinten Rollins, Miami (Ohio).

A four-year starting point guard on the basketball team -- and two-time captain -- he played one year of football and led the MAC with seven interceptions, third most in the nation.

Jerod Cherry's Under the Radar Breakdown: Quinten Rollins

Last word

K’Waun Williams and Nelson made the team last year as undrafted free agents even after the Browns used a first-round pick on Gilbert and a fourth-round pick on Desir. If a corner is not drafted, Pettine and his coaches no doubt will bring in a few undrafted ones to get a closer look at.

Position: Safety.

Roster: Johnson Bademosi, Tashaun Gipson, Micah Pellerin, Jordan Poyer, Donte Whitner.

Analysis: Gipson’s boycott of the offseason program indicates he is not pleased with the tone or pace of negotiations for a new contract. A restricted free agent, Gipson was not happy to receive the second-round tender from the Browns for $2.35 million – about $1 million less than the first-round tender. By declining to sign it, Gipson can continue his boycott through training camp without the threat of any fines. Ultimately, Gipson has little choice but to agree to a deal – either the one-year tender or a multi-year contract. The Browns most likely will draft a safety to give themselves some leverage as this dispute proceeds through the summer.

Needs: Gipson’s contract dispute and Whitner’s age (30) make a developmental safety at either free or strong a wise investment.

Top 3 prospects

1. Landon Collins, Alabama.

Projects as a physical, in-the-box safety who can be an intimidator, but may be a liability in coverage.

2. James Sample, Louisville.

Left Washington after two years and a major shoulder injury, he eventually put together one productive year at Louisville to impress scouts as a value pick in the third round.

3. Damarious Randall, Arizona State.

Undersized but productive, he projects as an immediate contributor on special teams and in sub defense packages who may develop as a starter at free safety.

Under radar

Anthony Harris, Virginia.

A ball hawk who had eight interceptions his junior season and was a captain with great work ethic.

Last word

The depth chart is thin behind Whitner and Gipson, so it would be a surprise if at least one safety isn’t added in the draft.

Part 5: Offensive line

Part 4: Wide receiver and tight end

Part 3: Linebacker

Part 2: Defensive line

Part 1: Quarterback

 

 

####

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

Browns 2015 schedule: Four-game division gauntlet in November will dictate the season

Apr 22, 2015 -- 6:25am

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/AP

The Morning Kickoff …

Takeaways from the Browns’ 2015 regular-season schedule …

1. It’s easier to comprehend the schedule by breaking down the season into four quarters.

First quarter: at N.Y. Jets, home v. Tennessee, home v. Oakland, at San Diego.

What more could the Browns ask for? Starting on the road for only the third time in 17 years is a good thing. We know the pressure to win at home is unbearable for the Browns. They play better in season-openers on the road (17-14 loss to Tampa Bay in 2010, 30-27 loss to Pittsburgh in 2014) than at home (1-13 record, by an average score of 24-13).

Further, facing a rookie head coach (Todd Bowles) making his NFL debut is a gift. They never win their first games (except New Orleans’ Sean Payton beat the Browns in his debut in 2006 and Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin did the same in 2007). Other than them …

Tennessee and Oakland at home? Red velvet cake.

San Diego in Game 4? The Chargers are a lame-duck franchise, packing for their inevitable move to Los Angeles. Their whole season will be a mess.

Second quarter: at Baltimore, home v. Denver, at St. Louis, home v. Arizona.

OK, so the less said about this quarter the better.

Third quarter: at Cincinnati (Thursday night), at Pittsburgh, bye week, home v. Baltimore (Monday night), home v. Cincinnati.

Proving again that he gets it, coach Mike Pettine was right on point when he said, “That, to me, can make or break the season. The good thing about that stretch is you have a 10-day break and a 15-day break in there. That’s a stretch that I think we’ll all point to as a hinge point.”

This AFC North gauntlet indeed will make or break the Browns’ season.

Let’s say the Browns struggle through their first eight games, as most everyone already is anticipating. Let’s say they go 2-6. Well, these four games give the Browns a chance to climb back into respectability and relevance.

A four-game sweep in this quarter would make December meaningful. What’s a successful season – going 10-6 and missing the playoffs or going 8-8 and making the postseason?

Fourth quarter: home v. San Francisco, at Seattle, at Kansas City, home v. Pittsburgh.

The 49ers in December? Who knows? Anyone who witnessed new coach Jim Tomsula’s introductory press conference in January swore he wouldn’t make it to December.

As for the rest of the month, let’s just say the safest bet in Las Vegas is that Thad Lewis will suit up for the start against the Steelers. A Browns season has ended with a third quarterback starting the 16th game in three of the last five years.

We can only hope that Pettine breaks recent tradition and makes it to the Second Annual Jimmy Haslam Retreat in February.

2. The NFL is all about quarterbacks and pass rushers. So let’s break down the schedule another way.

Here are the quarterbacks the Browns will face:

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Zach Mettenberger, Derek Carr, Philip Rivers, Joe Flacco, Peyton Manning, Nick Foles, Carson Palmer, Andy Dalton, Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton, Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, Alex Smith, Ben Roethlisberger.

(Note: If the Chargers trade with the Titans, as many are speculating, substitute Rivers for Game 2 and Marcus Mariota for Game 4.)

Here are the pass rushers the Browns will face:

Calvin Pace, Brian Orakpo, Justin Tuck, Melvin Ingram, Terrell Suggs/Elvis Dumervil, Von Miller, Robert Quinn, Calais Campbell, Carlos Dunlap, James Harrison/Jarvis Jones, Dunlap, Suggs/Dumervil, Aldon Smith, Bruce Irvin, Justin Houston, Harrison/Jones.

(Note: Looking at the schedule this way makes you appreciate left tackle Joe Thomas more than ever.)

3. Considering the Browns’ porous run defense, maybe we should examine the running backs on the schedule.

Here are the running backs the Browns will face:

Chris Ivory, Bishop Sankey, Latavius Murray, Branden Oliver (see what we mean about that first quarter?), Justin Forsett, C.J. Anderson, Tre Mason, Andre Ellington, Jeremy Hill, LeVeon Bell, Forsett, Hill, Carlos Hyde, Marshawn Lynch, Jamaal Charles, Bell.

4. Two things to always remember about the schedule:

a. Each team in the AFC North plays 14 common opponents. So, no matter the strengths or weaknesses of a given year’s opponents, the division race always – always – comes down to the team that handles its division opponents best.

b. As always when it comes to the NFL schedule, it’s not who you play, it’s when you play them. Last year, the Cardinals were awesome with Palmer in the lineup; pedestrian without him. What are the Broncos if Manning suddenly feels his age of 38? Brock Osweiler to the rescue? What are the Chiefs without Charles?

So, playing the schedule game in April is not the same as playing out the season in real time. Anything can and will happen.

Well, almost anything. The Browns winning games at the end is something we haven’t seen in a while.

 

####

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

Vote of confidence: Browns receive two prime-time games, one at home on Monday night

Apr 21, 2015 -- 7:58pm

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty

Two national prime-time TV appearances against division rivals – one at home on ESPN’s Monday Night Football – highlight the Browns’ 2015 schedule.

The Brown play host to the Baltimore Ravens on Nov. 30. That will be their first Monday night appearance since 2009. Prior to that, they play at Cincinnati for a Thursday night appearance on Nov. 5 against the Bengals on NFL Network.

Those games are part of a rare stretch of four consecutive division games over 31 days sandwiched around their bye in Week 11.

It goes like this:

• Thursday, Nov. 5, at Cincinnati.

• Sunday, Nov. 15, at Pittsburgh.

• Nov. 22, bye week.

• Monday, Nov. 30, home v. Baltimore.

• Sunday, Dec. 6, home v. Cincinnati.

It’s the first time since the inception of the AFC North in 2002 the Browns have played four consecutive division games.

“That, to me, can make or break the season,” coach Mike Pettine said in a statement released by the club. “The good thing about that stretch is you have a 10-day break and a 15-day break in there. That’s a stretch that I think we’ll all point to as a hinge point.

“We look at the division as being the gateway to the playoffs, the gateway to our goal.”

Other highlights of the Browns' schedule:

* They open the season against the New York Jets on Sept. 13 in MetLife Stadium.

* The league spaced apart the Browns’ two West Coast trips. They play at San Diego on Oct. 4 and then at Seattle on Dec. 20.

* The bye week comes during the week of Thanksgiving, and they are home the following two Sundays.

* The last road game is Dec. 27 at Kansas City.

* They finish the season at home Jan. 3 against Pittsburgh.

The Browns also finalized the dates and times of the exhibition schedule, which was previously announced.

(Check ESPNCleveland.com on Wednesday morning for a detailed analysis of the Browns' schedule.)

 

BROWNS PRESEASON SCHEDULE

DATEOPPONENTSITENETWORKTIME (ET)
Thurs., Aug. 13vs Washington RedskinsFirstEnergy StadiumWEWS (Ch. 5)8 p.m.
Thurs., Aug. 20vs Buffalo BillsFirstEnergy StadiumESPN8 p.m.
Sat., Aug. 29at Tampa Bay BuccaneersRaymond James Std.WEWS (Ch. 5)8 p.m.
Thurs., Sept. 3at Chicago BearsSoldier FieldWEWS (Ch. 5)8 p.m.

BROWNS REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE

DATEOPPONENTSITENETWORKTIME (ET)
Sun., Sept. 13at New York JetsMetLife StadiumCBS1 p.m.
Sun., Sept. 20vs Tennessee TitansFirstEnergy StadiumCBS1 p.m.
Sun., Sept. 27vs Oakland RaidersFirstEnergy StadiumCBS1 p.m.
Sun., Oct. 4at San Diego ChargersQualcomm StadiumCBS*4:05 p.m.*
Sun., Oct. 11at Baltimore RavensM&T Bank StadiumCBS*1 p.m.*
Sun., Oct. 18vs Denver BroncosFirstEnergy StadiumCBS*1 p.m.*
Sun., Oct. 25at St. Louis RamsEdward Jones DomeCBS*1 p.m.*
Sun., Nov. 1vs Arizona CardinalsFirstEnergy StadiumFOX*1 p.m.*
Thurs., Nov. 5at Cincinnati BengalsPaul Brown StadiumNFL Network8:25 p.m.
Sun., Nov. 15at Pittsburgh SteelersHeinz FieldCBS*1 p.m.*
 BYE WEEK   
Mon., Nov. 30vs Baltimore RavensFirstEnergy StadiumESPN8:30 p.m.
Sun., Dec. 6vs Cincinnati BengalsFirstEnergy StadiumCBS*1 p.m.*
Sun., Dec. 13vs San Francisco 49ersFirstEnergy StadiumFOX*1 p.m.*
Sun., Dec. 20at Seattle SeahawksCenturyLink FieldCBS*4:05 p.m.*
Sun., Dec. 27at Kansas City ChiefsArrowhead StadiumCBS*1 p.m.*
Sun., Jan. 3vs Pittsburgh SteelersFirstEnergy StadiumCBS*1 p.m.*

*Games subject to change due to NFL flexible scheduling

####

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

Johnny Manziel begins the process of winning back teammates' trust and respect

Apr 21, 2015 -- 2:57pm

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty

After a disastrous rookie season that landed him in a drug and alcohol treatment center, Johnny Manziel pledged to win back the trust of his teammates with actions, not words.

And so, as the Browns returned as a team for the first time since Manziel was released from 73 days in the Caron treatment center in Wernersville, PA, there were no speeches from him.

In Phase One of the offseason program, players check in at 8 a.m. and leave at noon. According to cornerback Joe Haden, Manziel stayed over for about three extra hours on Monday.

“So … I think he’s got his mind right. He’s just ready to get going,” Haden said Tuesday.

It was no surprise that on the first day the Browns made players available at their facility, Manziel was not among them. In a written statement announcing his release from the treatment facility, Manziel said that he would talk publicly when he feels comfortable and would apologize to teammates for the way he handled his rookie year.

“There was no big part of the team meeting where he got up and spoke,” said coach Mike Pettine. “I’m sure he’s had interaction with guys who he’s been close to. I’m sure he’ll handle that as he sees fit. For us as a staff, he’s here, he’s one of our guys here working hard.”

Pettine said he will keep the one-on-one conversation he had with Manziel private.

Haden is one of the teammates in whom Manziel confides. Haden was expecting to play pool with Manziel on Monday and was pleasantly surprised when he received Manziel’s call leaving the Browns facility three hours later than expected.

A few weeks ago, left tackle Joe Thomas said that Manziel has to regain the trust of teammates after he virtually blew off his rookie season by putting partying ahead of extra work. Haden said he “wasn’t one of those guys,” but he acknowledges that Manziel has to change and is confident that Manziel realizes it now.

“Actions speak louder than words. He has a lot to show the people. He’s trying his best,” Haden said.

Haden said he believes “a thousand percent” that Manziel can still be a winning NFL quarterback.

“He has the ability,” Haden said. “One thing now, he’s motivated. He knows he has a second chance, an opportunity, and he’s just ready to get after it. Just focused more and know he has to be in here a lot more often if he wants to be a professional quarterback in this league. And he’s told me he’s realized that, and I’m happy for him.”

Pettine is not ready to set expectations for Manziel as it relates to role or place on the depth chart. He said he puts Manziel on equal footing with everyone learning the offense of new coordinator John DeFilippo.

Pettine did say that the opinion of ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that the Browns had “90 percent moved on” from Manziel has been filed “in the ridiculous category.”

“I use that number about the accuracy of reports that are out there – 90 percent inaccurate,” Pettine said. “I don’t know where he would get that from. (Manziel is) very much in our plans. His career with us just hit the pause button. I’ve said this before, (he’s) got to get himself right as a person first before we worry about Johnny the football player.”

Pettine brushed off speculation of the Browns seeking to trade up for Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota in the April 30 draft – “Sure. Why not?” he quipped – and said he’s looking forward to seeing Manziel back on the field. The offense doesn’t begin working with coaches on the field until Phase Two of the offseason program in two weeks.

Still, nothing is guaranteed as Manziel begins the long road back from an oblivion that nobody saw coming when he was drafted No. 22 overall a year ago. And Pettine, for one, is proceeding with caution.

“This is the one comment I’ll share that Johnny’s made – ‘Don’t judge me on my words, judge me on my actions,’” Pettine said. “That’s something that in the past, even I’ve been critical of him, where the actions have to match what he’s saying. He’s saying the right things but it’s not adding up with what he’s doing. That’s really a big part of his message coming back.”

####

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

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