Browns general manager John Dorsey is old-school cool, from his wardrobe to keeping his plans for the upcoming NFL draft private.
He’s not tipping his hand.
“You know,” Dorsey said, “a man once told me: Don’t show all your cards at once.”
Dorsey kept things close to the vest — or in his case, a white-and-orange team sweat shirt — on Thursday during a mandatory pre-draft news conference in which he sidestepped any questions about which quarterback he’s considering with the No. 1 overall pick.
For months, Cleveland fans have debated whether the team should select Southern Cal’s Sam Darnold or Wyoming’s Josh Allen or UCLA’s Josh Rosen or Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield.
Asked point blank, if he had made up his mind, Dorsey scrambled like a QB being blitzed.
“You know what?” he said. “I’m a guy of processes. I’m a guy of structure. I’m a guy of systems and I’m a creature of habit. I’ve done it for 20-some years. But where we are in the process right now, I think the draft is seven days away. But I’m very confident in where we are in the process moving forward.”
And so it went for nearly 30 minutes as Dorsey, who was hired in December to fix a franchise mired in losing, offered few clues on what he intends to do with either of his first-round picks. The Browns also own the No. 4 selection.
The team is expected to draft a quarterback first, but Dorsey said he’s leaving his options — including a trade — open and that he’s even considered using the first pick on Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, considered by some draft experts to be the top overall talent in this year’s player pool.
“Why wouldn’t I?” Dorsey said when asked about Barkley, who dazzled pro personnel at the combine. “The guy’s a really good football player. Absolutely. You can’t have enough of them on your team.”
While Barkley is intriguing, quarterback is a priority for the Browns, who are coming off a 0-16 season.
They’ve spent three decades in a fruitless search for a long-term answer at the game’s most important position, and after the previous front office regime passed on the chance to draft either Carson Wentz or Deshaun Watson the past two years, Dorsey has his sights set on getting an elite quarterback now.
The Browns have done their due diligence in preparing for the draft. They’ve attended pro days, conducted private workouts and brought Darnold, Allen, Rose and Mayfield in for visits to get to know them better.
Darnold is believed to be the favorite to wind up in Cleveland. But there has been a growing buzz that Allen has closed the gap, especially after Sports Illustrated cited an unnamed “friend of Dorsey” predicting the Wyoming QB will be picked by the Browns.
Dorsey said no one knows his plans.
“First off, who is friend of Dorsey?” he said. “Second of all, I’m going to tell y’all, I go black in this time of year. I mean for a month, I don’t listen to radio, I don’t watch TV and I don’t pick up the newspaper. I kind of sit there. I think scouting, when you do that, you see the purity of information. You see the facts, and you see the film without listening to the outside white noise.
“And that’s kind of the way I’ve always done it.”
All four quarterbacks have positives and negatives. Darnold started for two years at one of the nation’s top programs, but he’s been turnover prone; Allen has the strongest arm but accuracy issues; Rosen is the best pure passer but is considered aloof by some; and Mayfield is undersized by pro standards and there are questions about his character.
“You guys always try to create the narrative of this guy, that he’s like something he’s not,” Dorsey said in defending the Heisman Trophy winner. “Just meeting with him, he’s a pleasant fella. He’s pretty sharp. He’s fine. I have no problems with him.”
And while Dorsey feels hand size is important for a quarterback playing in Cleveland’s inclement weather, there are other measurements he’ll consider.
“The only thing I really care about is do guys win?” Dorsey said. “Does he have accuracy? Does he have a strong arm? Can he throw the ball in the red zone in tight windows? Can he drive the ball? At the end of the game, does he win? How do they play the game of football? And then are they good people? Do they love the game of football? Will their teammates like them?
“That’s kind of how I look at things.”