Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine revealed on Monday that the team chose not to interview Johnny Manziel at the NFL Combine last week. Either Pettine is lying, or the Browns are going to great lengths to pretend they have no interest in Manziel.
Teams are allowed 60 interviews at the Combine during which they can speak to players for 15 minutes. The Browns have the fourth overall pick and are obviously in need of a quarterback, so you would think they would have interviewed the top four quarterbacks on their draft board at the very least. Is Manziel not one of the four?
“We didn’t speak to him at the Combine,” Pettine said, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. “I didn’t personally. He was not part of the formal interviews.”
Many experts believe that Manziel will be taken by either the Houston Texans or Jacksonville Jaguars, who both pick ahead of Cleveland. The Browns, who also hold the No. 26 pick in the first round of the draft, could opt to take a player like wide receiver Sammy Watkins at No. 4 and wait to draft a quarterback like Derek Carr later.
Pettine stressed that the team will have plenty of information on all of its targets before May 8.
“As we evaluate those positions, we’ll make sure that whatever access or interaction we need with that player, we’ll get that done,” he said.
We already know of one team that may favor Carr over Manziel, so I guess it is not impossible. Still, it seems like a smokescreen. The Browns may want other teams to think they didn’t interview Manziel in order to help the former Texas A&M star slip to them at No. 4. Time will tell.