Browns sending smokescreens prior to draft

A couple things happened in recent nights that had zero impact on my life.

One was the annual Oscar Awards show, which is another reason to dislike almost everything Hollywood. Self-important people promoting their talents while wearing expensive tuxedos and evening gowns is narcissism personified.

The other happened Monday night at the Cleveland Auto Show when Browns coach Mike Pettine told reporters that team officials didn’t interview Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel at the recent NFL combine. That comes as big news to those who believe the Browns would like to land Manziel in the first round of the draft.

Again, who cares? This rates right up there with anything said by Mel Kiper Jr., who, to his credit, has cultivated this “draft guru” tag all the way to the bank.

The fact that Browns officials didn’t crowd their way into a hotel room in Indianapolis and discuss the teachings of Zen with Manziel doesn’t mean they don’t want to get to know the guy better in the two months leading up to the draft. In the world of pre-draft smokescreens, Pettine’s revelation was cloudier than a bowling alley before non-smoking regulations.

For all we know it might be part of general manager Ray Farmer’s plan to keep all interested parties guessing. Pettine tells local reporters, whose stories are picked up by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who in turn informs a nation of draft junkies whose lives the next two months will revolve around all things NFL draft.

There will be plenty of time between now and May 8 for Manziel’s people to do lunch with Farmer’s people. Perhaps the two camps couldn’t gather together during the combine because Browns officials had other appointments, or maybe Manziel skipped out to be seen at an Indiana Pacers game.

By now each of the NFL’s 32 teams have tweaked and re-tweaked their draft boards several times. Every general manager is certain he knows fairly well how the first round will play out and the player he’ll select when on the clock.

Farmer is on record as saying he knows which of the quarterback prospects he would favor if he had a chance to select any of the three – Manziel, Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater and Central Florida’s Blake Bortles. He might only need some face time with each of them to further strengthen his opinions, which could be arranged with one quick jaunt on owner Jimmy Haslam’s private jet in the cover of the night.

Pettine’s admission concerning Manziel might ultimately be a good thing. If there was no interview because there’s no interest, maybe it means the Browns don’t plan to use the fourth overall pick on a quarterback.

That could mean they really want Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins, who tore apart an albeit terrible Ohio State defense in the Orange Bowl. Watkins and Josh Gordon or any of three quarterbacks? What’s your choice?

When I hear former NFL quarterback Phil Simms say there’s not a franchise quarterback in this draft, it makes me take notice. It should also catch the attention of the Browns, who can’t afford to add another name to a lengthy list of first-round busts.

The list starts with quarterback Tim Couch, the first overall pick in 1999. Five picks later the St. Louis Rams selected receiver Torry Holt, who finished his career ranked 10th in NFL history in receiving yards and should be a first-ballot Hall of Fame selection.

Teams generally don’t select a receiver first overall, but they do in the fourth spot. Maybe the Browns have their man, which is why they didn’t interview Manziel. Or maybe not.

It’s called blowing smoke.