Browns GM Ray Farmer traded five times during the 2014 NFL Draft, his first as the team's head decision-maker.


BEREA, Ohio -- Seventy-two hours sure can change opinions and strategies.

Cleveland Browns general manager Ray Farmer did not consider himself a "wheeler and dealer" when it came to organizing a strategy for the 2014 NFL Draft, but six selections, five trades and the acquisition of three picks for 2015 later, and the first-year decision-maker has a new reputation throughout the NFL.

"Trader Ray became the call as I would answer the telephone," Farmer quipped following the seventh round on Saturday. "It was definitely interesting to hear friends and colleagues call and say, 'Is Trader Ray available?'

"Specifically, as the draft moved on and there were opportunities for us to move back, I think that people just naturally assumed that because we had been so active the first couple days that we'd be eager to move around even more as the draft moved on."

This weekend's draft was the first in which Farmer was the one making the final decisions on who the Browns would select, and the first-year general manager walked away comfortable with the choices he made in selecting cornerbacks Justin Gilbert and Pierre Desir, quarterback Johnny Manziel, offensive lineman Joel Bitonio, linebacker Christian Kirksey and running back Terrance West.

"I got a lot of interesting feedback from my constituents around the league as to the amount of trades and moving that we did do," Farmer said. "With that being said, I do think it was different. The room was different. For me, the aura of the room was different. How we conducted our business was different, more so to fit my personality.

"I felt good about where we were. I felt good about keeping the process intact, and I think that's what we focused on, sticking to our process, the involvement of the people that were in the room and keeping everybody abreast of why we were doing what we were doing."

The "wheeling and dealing" started early for the Browns.

Originally, they held the No. 4 pick in the first round, but traded back with the Buffalo Bills to No. 9. By moving back five spots, the Browns received Buffalo's first and fourth-round picks in 2015.

Then, the Browns traded up one spot with the Minnesota Vikings to No. 8 in exchange for the ninth and 145th picks this year.

"Could I tell you that I was going to trade, move up or back, slide around? No, I couldn't have told you that a week before the draft," Farmer said. "I couldn't have told you that the morning of the first day.

"Inevitably, things happen, and you've got to be reactionary to some degree. That's really what the draft is predicated upon, trying to identify the players that you like and get the guys that you really think can improve your football team.

"In all of those strategies and all of those opportunities, there will be moments where we can add more talent to our roster, and when those opportunities present themselves, we hope to strike."

The Browns continued their trading ways in order to attain players they wanted in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft, as they sent fourth and sixth-round selections to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for the 94th overall pick, which they used to select West out of Towson University.

"I believe I got to Terrance West before somebody got to Terrance West," Farmer said. "I don't know who specifically, but there was definitely, the term that we like to use is, 'Murderer's Row.' And when Murderer's Row comes up, you're going to lose the guys that you want. There were several instances in the draft that we referred to pods of teams that could take players we were interested in, and as we saw those pods of teams coming up, we felt it was advantageous to move up in front of those teams.

"There's pods of players that you like, and as those pods of players start to run out, and if you lose a guy that you truly, truly covet, then, you better make a move for the one that you want or you'll miss them. We worked through the process. We found a guy that we liked and when the opportunity came, we jumped on it."

According to Farmer, trading back into the third round helped the Browns reach their ultimate goal of getting "good football players."

"In a general context, the closer you are to the front, the supposed better off you are with selecting the talent that's available," Farmer said. "From our perspective, we took an opportunity to get a young man that we thought really was going to go soon.

"Getting back into the back end of the third round, we had an inkling that other teams were going to try and circle the wagons on him when we got to the compensatory picks. We felt like we needed to jump back in before he disappeared and we had a chance to select him at 106."

Instead of selecting a player with their final pick, at No. 218, the Browns traded the selection to the Baltimore Ravens for their sixth-round choice in 2015.

"The reason why we pick and how we pick is truly predicated on our process," Farmer said. "We go through the board, and to add some clarity or some insight into how that structure is worked or oriented, we organize the players. We rank them. We stack them. We stick to it.

"We believe you do the work for a reason. You take the best players available. You establish your team by going through that process and making sure you draft the best guys in how you had them ordered of who were the best players in college football."

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