Browns' GM Mike Lombardi Speaks to 92.3 The Fan and ESPN 850

Chris Graythen

With the NFL Draft officially in the books, fans have begun to see and read draft grades being discussed by many media outlets and draft analysts nationwide. Many haven't portrayed the Browns draft in a positive fashion and after trading out of the 4th and 5th rounds some fans were left scratching their heads and feeling that frustrating, "here we go again" feeling.

Then, yesterday, after all the silence leading up to the draft, I'm sure a few of you were wondering why Mike Lombardi suddenly came out of the woodwork for interviews? Well, for one, yesterday was the first day 92.3FM The Fan and 850AM WKNR took over as the radio home of the Browns, subsequently ending WTAM's relationship with the team. Then, I believe this was done for public relations in an attempt to help the Cleveland Browns fan base be "in the know" about the direction and philosophy of the organization and the most recent NFL Draft as well as get a chance to really know Mike Lombardi a little better.

And aside from the fact that I walked away very impressed with the man; his humor and ability to handle the goofballs on 92.3; and his intelligence, I can sum up the organizational philosophy discussed in these interviews in one word: "Value". This idea, as it relates to the Browns, was also discussed on NFL Network following the draft.

I listened to the interviews and did my best to transcribe main points and quotes that Lombardi made on both radio shows, in all it's about 25 minutes of audio that I highly suggest you take the time to digest on your own. Be sure to tune into 92.3 The Fan's Bull & Fox show tomorrow afternoon as Rob Chudzinski is supposed to be on air.

92.3FM The Fan Interview:

  • The segment began with music presumably inspired from Italian culture, the link above suggests it may be "Godfather" type music.
  • "You know, analysts ( and I've certainly played this role before ) you always want to instantly evaluate a draft but I think when you're in the process of building / developing a team, you can't instantly evaluate a draft. I think it needs to be able to play out over time and that you need to be able to view it on a larger lens than just the narrow focus."
  • "You wanna make sure you take a step back before you completely analyze it and look at what all goes into the draft; and what remains from the draft - this is always so critical. I think often times we see "A" drafts turn into "D" drafts and "D" drafts turn into "A" drafts. I think it's all about timing."
  • So it's been reported that you're not a fan of Brandon Weeden. We were surprised no QB in the draft, why no young QB? Nothing to lose?
  • "I think everything is about value in the draft. I think you have to look at whatever decision you're about to make with the pick you're picking, it's about the value of what the pick brings and what you can do with it and move forward."
  • "It's not about filling out a depth chart."
  • "You quote Belicheck and certainly he's a major influence, but it's about building a team not just collecting talent. Which is what Joe's philosophy is going back to Philadelphia. Every decision you make is about finding the right pieces and how it all fits together. Not about ‘hey let's add this guy or add that guy' because it may not fit."
  • "I can see fans point of view and wanting to add players, but there is the element of building a team."
  • Cites Baltimore, San Francisco, and New England as teams and organizations that share the same philosophy of looking through the biggest lens and adding assets not just adding talent.
  • Well that is fair, Mike. But we've been looking through a larger lens since 1999. And you should know that having been here. But that wasn't the question, the question was of the 107 picks between where we picked, was there nothing in there that helped the Browns immediately?"
  • "To me the trade was more valuable than picking a player."
  • "I understand the frustration (since 1999) and I understand that we're certainly going to be held accountable to winning and that's what we intend to do."
  • "I think part of the process of the draft is to collect information and data on every single player. Some guys you go work out or bring in because you have questions not because you have already concluded that you like them. This isn't college football."
  • In the end you decided, you know, it's factual, that you decided you didn't like any of these guys.
  • "Well that's not factual either. We just thought that the value was better for the 3rd and the 4th round to make the decisions that we did. I don't think you can come to conclusions like you're doing, really it's kinda like reading between the lines and I don't think that's fair. Look, you can agree with what we did or what we didn't do, I think that's certainly a job for morning radio and it's certainly a debate but I think the reality is you can't conclude the decisions that we made based on what you believe to be factual, based on non-facts."
  • "NFL Network used to ask me to grade drafts and I used to try to refuse to do that because I thought it was really ridiculous and now that I'm in this job I can refuse it without having to do it. So, I'm not gonna grade a draft. Drafts are about the foundation of an organization."
  • Asked about the hypocrisy of saying you want to draft quality character players and then drafting a guy who sold drugs at practice while also passing on the Honey Badger
  • "You have to dig deeper and know the situation on each player intimately. You really better know the answers because sometimes you think something and it turns out not to be true."

850AM WKNR Interview:

  • "I understand the business and I don't have a problem with people grading drafts, but when you look over building a team, which is essentially the most important part of football, it takes time."
  • "It's so important, after a draft, that the drive, the urgency and the belief of trying to make your team improve is paramount on your mind every day. We gotta keep working. Everybody is an incomplete until the season."
  • "Building a team relates to building the cap. As you look forward to building your team the cap becomes a huge part of. You gotta think about if we draft this player can we sign him to an extension? Is that gonna be the contract you want to do?"
  • "You acquire assets, which help you as your team grows... the draft is about value."
  • "To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often" in regards to people digging up past quotes and takes of his as an analyst on NFL Network regarding Brandon Weeden.
  • "Every scouting report was valued, every report was looked at."
  • Regarding McFadden: "He's got a chance to compete, and that's what you want. He made his way to San Diego State as a WR and switched to corner and competed and started as a Freshman in a conference where they throw the ball quite often. I think that's what we want, we want guys that are going to accept the role. Nobody has been promised a job. He has to come in and compete and show his skills. He can make plays on the ball, he's got great balance, he's got ball awareness."
  • "Nobody should take a job for granted. You come to work every day and try to get better. That has to be the mantra of the Cleveland Browns... contentment is probably the worst word in the English language in terms of pro sports."
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