BEREA, Ohio – It took three trades and 22 picks but the Cleveland Browns got their quarterback -- Johnny Manziel.
Cleveland started its NFL draft by trading the No. 4 pick to the Buffalo Bills, who selected Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins. The Browns received the Bills' No. 9 pick and their first- and fourth-round selections in 2015.
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The Browns then traded the No. 9 pick to move up one spot to draft Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert at No. 8. They then waited 13 picks before trading up from No. 26 to Arizona's spot at No. 22, where they took Manziel, the electic quarterback out of Texas A&M.
"A little bit of anxiousness, a little bit of nervousness, but at the same time there is a higher power that has a plan for me," Manziel said. "I am going to pour my heart out for this team and this organization. … I'll work hard to be the best player I can be."
The move to grab Gilbert, who will team with Pro Bowl corner Joe Haden, with their first pick of the night shows the influence of new Browns head coach Mike Pettine.
"Joe Haden. Justin Gilbert. Donte Whitner. I'm getting excited. I probably shouldn't go there," said Ray Farmer, the Browns' first-year general manager. "We're excited about having corners we think can go out, play press, get after people and give us a chance to turn the ball over. We've improved our defense."
The Bills believe they made the right decision as they pulled off the draft's first trade.
Bills president Russ Brandon said trade talks with Cleveland began as soon as the Jacksonville Jaguars made the first surprise move of the night by taking Bortles at No. 3. With Watkins' name "very, very, very high" atop the Bills' draft board, general manager Doug Whaley said the team had to make the trade to go get him.
"We certainly are excited about what just happened. We went in to this draft saying we were going to be bold and we made a bold move," Whaley said.
Watkins, the Biletnikoff Award semifinalist, is an explosive, physical receiver who had 101 catches for 1,464 yards and 12 touchdowns and capped his final season at Clemson with a 16-catch performance in the Tigers' dramatic victory against Ohio State in the Orange Bowl. Whaley praised Watkins for playing bigger than a 6-foot receiver should.
The Bills are hoping that pairing Watkins with veteran receiver Stevie Johnson and versatile running back C.J. Spiller will help speed the development of quarterback E.J. Manuel, last year's first-round pick, and quickly turn the Bills into a playoff contender, even if the price to get him was quite high.
The Bills swapped first-rounders in this draft with the Browns (No. 4 for No. 9), but also gave up their first- and fourth-round picks in 2015.
"Very high cost. We thought it was a calculated risk and a risk we were willing to take," Whaley said. "The high costs not making the playoffs is something we weighed in and we thought this guy was going to get us to the playoffs."
Contributing: Jim Corbett in New York
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