The Browns haven’t made a lead personnel department hire, and in a way they’re on the clock.
The Senior Bowl is next week in Mobile, Ala. It’s not only the most important of the postseason all-star games and an annual convention of sorts for every NFL decsion-maker, agent and NFL job-seeker, but in the case of teams in transition — the Browns always seem to be that — it’s generally the first time the new GM/head honcho actually meets with his scouting staff.
It wouldn’t be catastrophic if the Browns went through the Senior Bowl without the guy who’s eventually going to be the general manager or hold some other, lesser but still fancy title atop the personnel department. Head Honcho Joe Banner has even said the hire will be made with the big picture in mind, not just the next week or the next two months.
But having someone in place for next week would help the cause in multiple ways. There are different scouting grading systems/language that different bosses use. There are different ways to share evaluations of the Senior Bowl, though you’re still watching the same guys. More than anything, the people working for the Browns — and it’s unlikely there would be many changes in college scouting until after the draft — would like to know who they’re going to be working for and make an impression.
It’s hard to envision Banner sitting in the bleachers next week taking notes, or interviewing players on the field after practices or in the hotel lobby at Senior Bowl headquarters. In fact, we know that’s not going to happen.
The work will get done; it’s just that having the boss — or one of them — in place would streamline things, make them simpler. The entire college scouting department spent a long weekend in Cleveland in mid-December, per usual, for important early draft meetings. A lot of that information and those opinions won’t change, but Tom Heckert led those meetings knowing he’d be out a little over three weeks later.
All we really know about the search for this new boss is Kansas City Chiefs director of pro personnel Ray Farmer interviewed last week in Cleveland, and Banner told Cleveland media on Tuesday that the process is ongoing and may include up to six interviews.
We’re also waiting on confirmation of coaching hires. The Senior Bowl in the past has been a place where some of those hires get either made or finalized. In fact, Eric Mangini chose to stay in Cleveland in 2009 instead of going to the Senior Bowl. He thought he’d be bombarded with job-seekers and would get more work done by staying in Cleveland.
The one thing we know for sure — the Browns have been in this awkward transition stage many times before.