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Which Two Players Were the Browns Interested in Besides QB Johnny Manziel?

Earlier today, we posted the transcript of the infamous radio interview that Cleveland Browns quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains had last week on an Arkansas radio station. During the radio interview, Loggains went into detail about the team selecting QB Johnny Manziel, but it led to some questions among the media.

On Saturday, when both head coach Mike Pettine was made available to the media, Loggains' comments were a hot-button topic. During Pettine's remarks, though, he ended up revealing a little something about the team's draft considerations:

(On if Coach Loggains said anything that was possibly out of line): "I don't know if I would use the phrase ‘out of line.' The story itself, the text message absolutely did happen because in the draft room, when I got it, I questioned Dowell as to whether he made the text up himself in order to get us to turn the card in.

There were three players – I'm not going to go into the names, but Johnny was one of them – who we targeted after we picked that were potential high-value guys for us that we felt that we were getting good value on. As the round continued to progress, one of the guys went that was getting close to the Eagles' pick, when we knew that there was a pretty good chance that we were going to be able to jump up and take that spot.

Then the other player went, and we knew that quarterback was a position that we were targeting and that Johnny was our top quarterback on the board. There was some excitement in the room building because we felt that we were close to getting him. When Dowell sent me the text that he wanted to come to Cleveland, I think that it just really added to the excitement in the room and were fired up to turn the card in."

(On whether he had to speak to Loggains after the radio interview): "Did I have to speak to him? Not really. He knew how it came off, and he wasn't in the draft room when [we drafted Manziel]. I think we were all excited because there was a situation that he was our top-rated guy, and we were getting a chance to get him and we knew it was mutual that he wanted to be here, and he and Dowell had developed a relationship over the course of the workouts and the visits. We see that as a positive."

After the Browns selected CB Justin Gilbert at No. 8 overall, it was interesting to see Pettine say that there were three players under consideration (with Manziel being one of them). That means that Cleveland had serious interest in two other players taken between No. 9 and No. 21 overall. Those players included:

  • No. 9 - Vikings - OLB Anthony Barr
  • No. 10 - Lions - TE Eric Ebron
  • No. 11 - Titans - OT Taylor Lewan
  • No. 12 - Giants - WR Odell Beckham Jr.
  • No. 13 - Rams - DT Aaron Donald
  • No. 14 - Bears - CB Kyle Fuller
  • No. 15 - Steelers - ILB Ryan Shazier
  • No. 16 - Cowboys - OG Zack Martin
  • No. 17 - Ravens - ILB C.J. Mosley
  • No. 18 - Jets - S Calvin Pryor
  • No. 19 - Dolphins - OL Ja'Wuan James
  • No. 20 - Saints - WR Brandin Cooks
  • No. 21 - Packers - S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

There are 13 candidates. I would eliminate Barr, Ebron, and Donald because I don't think they were strong enough positions of need. I would eliminate Fuller because we had already drafted a cornerback. I think James would also be a safe scratch, considering how big of a reach he was for the Dolphins. That brings the Browns down to just 8 candidates, all of which were at positions of need:

  • OL: Taylor Lewan, Zack Martin
  • WR: Odell Beckham Jr, Brandon Cooks
  • ILB: Ryan Shazier, C.J. Mosley
  • S: Calvin Pryor, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

Although the Browns could have used a free safety, after drafting a cornerback at No. 8 overall and signing SS Donte Whitner in free agency, adding another member of the secondary in round one seems unlikely in hindsight. Therefore, let's take it down to six players (everyone but the safeties).

Now, let's break down what else Pettine said: "As the round continued to progress, one of the guys went who was getting close to the Eagles' pick..."

My definition of "close" would be within 7-8 picks. Therefore, we might be able to strike Lewan* and Beckham off the list. Then, we're down to four candidates: OG Zack Martin, WR Brandin Cooks, ILB Ryan Shazier, and ILB C.J. Mosley.

Let's try to narrow it down even further. I think the Browns anticipated that either OG Xavier Su'a-Filo or OG Joel Bitonio would be available in the second round, so let's take Martin off our list. I could see Cleveland having wanted a stud inside linebacker to pair up with veteran ILB Karlos Dansby, so I think either Shazier or Mosley was one of the players on Cleveland's list.

After their first player was gone (let's assume it was the latter of the two in Mosley), Pettine said, "Then the other player went, and we knew that quarterback was a position that we were targeting and that Johnny was our top quarterback on the board."

I think this pick was right before the Eagles were on the clock, and the Saints were the team that surprised people and traded into No. 20 overall. That could have accelerated the process of Cleveland trading with the Eagles (who also could have been a landing spot for Cooks). Therefore, Cooks is the other player I think the Browns were interested in. Keep in mind that FOX Sports' Jay Glazer also put this out there on Day 1 of the draft:

Keep in mind that none of this means that Manziel was the "last resort" of the three players that Cleveland wanted. We don't know who they preferred. Also, there's a chance that the Browns might have wanted to have three first-round picks, which is a rumor we heard a couple of days before the draft. It never materialized, but Cleveland could have been trying to get Gilbert, Cooks, and Manziel, for example.

My Conclusion (in no particular order)

  1. QB Johnny Manziel
  2. WR Brandin Cooks
  3. ILB Ryan Shazier or ILB C.J. Mosley

Let us know in the comments section below which two players the Browns were interested in from the group of 13 listed above!

*Note: I don't subscribe to the OBR insiders, but I have seen rumblings from people who do, and they have said that the Browns' inquiry to the Titans at No. 11 overall was for Lewan.