It's about 45 minutes into Round 1 of the NFL 2014 draft. Commissioner Roger Goodell strolls up to the podium while Cleveland Browns fans hold their breaths in anticipation of perhaps the most important drafts for this team in years. And for years to come.
It's important because the Browns already have seven 2013 pro-bowlers on the squad, some nice free-agent pickups from the offseason and 10 picks in the deepest draft in a decade. Many believe the Browns are a franchise QB away from making the playoffs for the first time in a dozen years.
No one knows what Browns GM Ray Farmer will do. It's the benefit of being a rookie GM and he's played the "rookie enigma" card to the hilt. But with his next breath, the commissioner is about to demystify Farmer's' strategy for us.
Goodell announces "With the fourth pick, the Cleveland Browns select...."
What comes next will depend on what has come before. Farmer's draft strategy is likely based on the actions of the first three teams -- Houston Texans, St. Louis Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars -- who draft ahead of the Browns.
If any one of those three teams grabs a quarterback with their first picks, then the Browns will grab their favorite remaining QB at #4. But if no QB is taken in the first three selections, then the Browns will pass on a QB at #4 and go with the best player available. They will then select the best one of the top-4 remaining QBs at #26.
Why would Ray Farmer do this? Because the actions of the first three teams are his "leading economic indicator" to reveal the market price of this QB class.
It's quite possible that all the QBs will fall in this draft. None of the top four QBs have stood out from the others. Each has shortcomings and will require more polishing at the NFL level. Fact is, the Browns may be happy with any of QBs among Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr or Johnny Manziel (listed alphabetically).
So if no QB is taken in the top four picks, then many draftniks seem to believe that only Minnesota and Arizona will use their first-round picks on QBs. While Tampa Bay, Tennessee and/or Oakland could select a QB in the first round, many seem to think they'll wait until rounds 2-3 to pick up a prospect QB.
If that's true, then the Browns could have two of the top four remaining QBs to choose from at #26. That would give Cleveland its "dream draft."
This depends on NONE of the QBs being taken in the top-four picks. Farmer's scenario has to have NONE of the QBs selected to give him the confidence that at least one and possibly two of the top-four QBs will last to #26. All it takes is Tampa Bay, Tennessee and/or Oakland to grab the last of the top-four QBs and that would leave the Browns with only the second-tier QBs remaining on the draft boards.
So we'll see what happens in the first three picks. That's the key to Farmer's first-round strategy.