Ditto the Browns, who also had a major need at the position. But instead of reaching for one with the fourth pick, they traded down to the ninth spot (then up to No. 8 after throwing in a fifth-round pick to swap spots) and took cornerback Justin Gilbert. They ultimately landed their quarterback -- Manziel -- at No. 22 because that's where their draft board said they should get him.
"That's truly what we're focused on, staying true to the beliefs of what's important in the process," Farmer said. "There's a reason we pay the scouts. There's a reason we pay to have these [pre-draft] meetings and bring everybody into town to organize the board, have the coaches involved to adjust the board, then meet again to talk through scenarios and put our plans in place ? and stay true to our board."
That philosophy was tested throughout the three-day event for the Browns, who learned a couple of weeks beforehand that star wideout John Gordon is a facing a season-long suspension for a failed drug test. News of the possible discipline surfaced on the eve of Round 2, but instead of panicking as fans and media harped on the need to select a wideout, Farmer stuck to his board and used his final four picks on other positions. Whether that was sound or suspect will be determined in the fall, but it was consistent with the tenor of this year's draft.
"At the end of the day, a lot of teams held their water, made their picks and let the board come to them," Farmer said.
That was most true at quarterback, a position where players often are selected above their draft grades because teams are desperate to fill the most important spot on the roster. Only Central Florida's Blake Bortles (No. 3 to Jacksonville) was among the first 21 players selected, and just five QBs were taken in the first two rounds.
"Teams paid more attention to value than need," said one NFC general manager, speaking on the condition his name not be used. "You can parlay that off a few years ago when everyone drove the value of that position up and got burned."
The reference was to 2011, when quarterbacks Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder went in the top 12. Only Newton has established himself as a franchise player, and the three others have displayed such limited promise that their teams did not exercise the fifth-year option in their contracts (Gabbert was actually traded this year to San Francisco, where he'll compete to back up Colin Kaepernick).
"If you go back to that draft and look down on it with a 30,000-foot view, you can say we propped that position up and almost every one of those players busted," the GM said. "So I think the attitude now is, 'Let's treat the quarterback position like every other position. Let's give them their true value, and if they're there when it's our turn to pick in that round, we'll take them.' Teams were definitely more disciplined."