Under the previous regime, it was believed that a group of Joe Banner, Michael Lombardi, Rob Chudzinski, Ray Farmer, and even Jimmy Haslam had a say in who the team was going to draft. Banner preferred to remain vague whenever he was asked who the ultimate decision-maker would be, or who would be the person to break a tie. Since getting rid of Banner and Lombardi, though, the direction has been clear: Farmer will assemble the team (including the draft), while Pettine will coach it.
Last week at the NFL owners meetings, Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer relayed what Haslam said about his involvement in the draft, including a statement that there would be "zero chance" that he dictates or overrules Farmer regarding what the team does in May:
Q: Can you envision any scenario in which you’ll step in and say 'we’re going to do this in the draft'?
A: "Zero chance. We will have so many conversations between now and the draft about who we’re picking. Are we picking this position or that position? Who are the top three or four guys? We will be well planned out, so that, ‘Hey, here’s plan A. But if plan A doesn’t work, here’s plan B, and here’s plan C. That’s what getting ready is all about. That’s what Ray and his group are focused on, and we’ll all participate. Mike will play a key role in that, too."
Regarding whether the team is locked in at staying at No. 4 overall, Haslam said "no" -- with the talent in this year's draft class, he views this draft as the Browns basically having three first-round picks.
"The great luxury we have is we have three picks in the top 35. The 35th pick in this draft is akin to a first-round draft pick in a lot of drafts. I think we’re well positioned. Now we’ve got to execute."
Haslam's involvement in the draft process will be limited to him giving his input regarding which positions are most important to be addressed in the draft, and then once a collective decision is reached, Farmer and Pettine will find the actual players.