Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said he drafted Johnny Manziel in 2014 at the urging of a homeless man he encountered on a street in Cleveland.
Four years later, the Browns apparently didn’t draft UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen because of a chat one of the team’s personnel executives had with a Bruins volleyball coach at an airport.
In other words, if you want to influence the Browns’ thinking on the draft, just initiate a random conversation with a team official. It seems to work.
Alonzo Highsmith, Cleveland’s vice president of player personnel, talked about the team’s decision to use the No. 1 pick on Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield on Monday at the Hall of Fame Luncheon Club in Canton, Ohio. Highsmith admitted to the room that his initial first choice was Southern Cal quarterback Sam Darnold, at least until he met all the prospects personally and found that Mayfield “blew me away. . . . When he walked into a room, you knew he was there.”
As for why Highsmith had Rosen third on his list behind Mayfield and Darnold? Here’s the Canton Repository’s Steve Doerschuk with the transcription:
“I was at an airport,” he said. “UCLA’s volleyball team was in front of me. You heard so much about Rosen. He’s this or that. We all know how people talk.
“So I asked one of the volleyball coaches, ‘What’s Rosen like?’ He said, ‘Aaaaa, you should probably ask his girlfriend. She’s one of the players. She’s over there.’
“I’m like, ‘All right coach. That’s good enough.’
“I don’t know what all this means, but there was something about him that bothered me.”
Highsmith also threw some light shade at Wyoming’s Josh Allen, whose supporters explained away his not-great numbers in 2017 as a byproduct of his lesser supporting cast.
“Baker Mayfield lost two receivers and he was the same quarterback,” Highsmith said. “Josh Allen . . . big arm . . . he could throw the ball from here to the moon. When they have to make excuses . . . why are they not completing passes? That’s a problem.”
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