So after everything, after every panicked Marcus Mariota rumor that had him donning three different uniforms next season, the Oregon star and No. 2 overall pick never even visited with the Browns pre-draft.
“There was a lot of scenarios,” said Mariota. “I never had any contact with the Browns. Um, so, yeah.”
As we’ve written in the past, pre-draft visits can be completely meaningless. That’s not the case with first-round quarterbacks, though. If a coach and general manager are betting the house on a quarterback, he’ll absolutely make a trip to the facility.
Mariota did not.
Even though he had a close relationship with current Browns quarterbacks coach Kevin O’Connell, who trained Mariota for his pro day, it would have still made sense to have a formal meeting with Ray Farmer, Mike Pettine and the rest of the offensive staff. Coaches like to see how players interact with others at the facility and how comfortable they feel around different members of the staff. The Browns also had two first-round picks.
It’s a bit of string that makes us wonder how close the deal ever was to happening, and what that really means in regards to how Pettine and Farmer feel about the future of Johnny Manziel beyond 2015.
Maybe it’s nothing. Maybe Farmer knew the asking price and didn’t even want to walk into the store on draft day. Maybe he took the intel from O’Connell and planned to shock the world.
Or perhaps the Browns‘ outwardly-boring but internally satisfying draft was the plan all along and Mariota was never a part of it.