BEREA - The Browns set a new standard for keeping their NFL draft plans under lock and key at a Thursday press conference.
General manager Mike Lombardi spent most of the 28 minutes seemingly trying to stay awake. He was short with his answers and spoke at a level almost too low for voice recorders to track.
CEO Joe Banner made the conference somewhat worthwhile with more detailed answers. Still, little knowledge of the team's plans for the April 25-27 draft were revealed.
Among the main topics of discussion was the possibility of trading out of the sixth overall spot to a lower position and pick up an additional pick. The Browns forfeited their second-round pick last June in a supplemental draft that brought in receiver Josh Gordon.
Banner indicated that the Browns have talked to most of the other 31 teams. None of the talks have led to any substantial offers.
"It doesn't change our desire to move down," Banner said of not having a second-round pick. "We have to make the right decision based on the value. If we think trading back or up produces better value for something we think is important or we rated high enough, we have to do it.
"If you made the priority filling in a hole that existed, you might not get the fair market value you're looking for in a trade. If we got offered something we thought made us a better team, then staying where we are and picking or moving up, we'd make the trade. If we didn't think it provided that benefit we wouldn't."
As always, quarterback remains a hot-button topic. Brandon Weeden is the starter as of now, but it's not known if Lombardi, Banner and coach Rob Chudzinski are collectively on board with the second-year veteran.
"I've been really busy," Lombardi said. "I watched the tape. I'm really studying on the draft at this point and watching the tape of the practice."
The mystery man in the draft is West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith. Smith had a sensational start to last season, but his performance curtailed against stronger opposition as the year progressed. In a draft that lacks depth of quality quarterback prospects, Smith is considered the best.
"I think every year there are always quarterbacks that do some real positive things and there are guys that don't, so I think this draft offers certainly those guys," Lombardi said. "In terms of the value of the pick, I think that remains to be seen. I think you put a grade on each player, and you see where that focus is where that grade goes to."
Most of the conjecture involving the Browns has centered on the defense. A cornerback to match with Joe Haden and a free safety next to T.J. Ward are needed. It's also important to add a strong pass rusher to the front seven.
Banner doesn't see a shortage of quality players available. He said the Browns' board has 18 to 20 players with first-round grades.
"(That's) about the norm," Banner said. "You never have the same number of players evaluated in each round as there are picks in the round. We think there are some very good players at the top of the draft that don't happen to be the most visible high-profile positions, but there are some very good players at the top of the draft, and we think that will serve us well."
This will be the first draft conducted by Lombardi, who replaced Tom Heckert in January. He's considered the point man in the process, but he will receive input from Banner, assistant general manager Ray Farmer and Chudzinski.
"If we had a player that four of us were evaluating and two of us liked him and two of us didn't, there's going to be some other players that three or four of us like," Banner said. "As opposed to someone breaking the tie, we're likely to move to the player that all of us like as opposed to picking someone we're somewhat ambivalent about."
Only a few people in Berea know the identity of that man.