An interesting theory has emerged in the past couple of days, fueled by a remark from Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota while in Browns training facility for an event held in conjunction with the Rookie Symposium. The theory is particularly interesting because it reveals a fundamental lack of understanding regarding the way the draft works.
Here’s the theory: Because Mariota told reporters that the Browns never contacted him before the draft, the Browns weren’t interested in drafting Mariota.
“I never had any contact with the Browns,” Mariota said, via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.
There are three major problems with assuming the lack of contact means the Browns weren’t interested. First, plenty of teams have no contact with players they eventually draft. It’s part of the smokescreen process that plays out before every draft, with plenty of players every year taken by surprise when they get a call from a team that snubbed them for most if not all of the months leading up to the draft. Second, the Browns didn’t need to contact Mariota, because quarterback coach Kevin O’Connell worked extensively with Mariota before taking the job. Third, it was widely reported and believed that the Browns, desperate to find a long-term franchise quarterback, were indeed interested in Mariota.
Even if that last part was a smokescreen, the absence of contact before the draft simply does not mean that the Browns weren’t interested.