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BEREA, Ohio — Do you want to know how to keep a secret? Inside the draft room of the Cleveland Browns, on the MAM (Morning After Mayfield), I found out a couple ways GM John Dorsey kept the identity of the first pick under wraps for the draft season.

My favorite: Dorsey and a contingent of scouts and coaches spent the week of March 19 visiting four quarterbacks—in order, Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen. They dined with Rosen on Monday, worked him out Tuesday, dined with Darnold on Tuesday, etc. Dorsey never told a soul which quarterback he preferred, though he had a very good idea on March 22 after leaving Oklahoma that he wanted Mayfield. Back in Ohio, at the top of the quarterback list on the Browns’ magnetic draft board, Dorsey turned the magnetic rectangular quarterback nametags upright. And at the top of the QB list, while every other name on the massive board was horizontally magnetized, four vertical QB nametags were at the top.

Rosen one, Darnold two, Mayfield three, Allen four. From left to right.

“Right in the order we visited them, and I kept them in that position until the day of the draft,” Dorsey told me.

Dorsey is still getting to know a lot of the people in the Browns’ front office, and they are still getting to know him. Throughout his first five months running the football side of the franchise, Dorsey said, “I have harped on trust and honesty. What’s said in this room stays in this room.” Now, he just wanted a little privacy insurance. If he kept the quarterbacks in this vertical bunch, Dorsey would be the only one who would know what the 1-through-4 order was.

Late Thursday morning, about nine hours before the draft, he gathered the senior staff to tell them the order of the quarterbacks, and what he was likely to do with the top pick—take Mayfield. He kept the board covered until early evening, and shortly before the draft began, the room knew the QB order. And, of course, who the top pick would be. How’d I find out on the Sunday night before the draft that the pick definitely would not be Josh Allen, and how’d Adam Schefter find out Tuesday morning that Mayfield was definitely in play? Credit to Schefter, in particular, for smoking out the Mayfield stuff. And credit to Dorsey for having an airtight circle on his call for five weeks—or at least five weeks minus a couple of days.

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So I was in Cleveland for the draft. I wrote a story for Sports Illustrated on one of the most significant days in recent Browns history (arguably, the most important of this century, without trying to be dramatic), and you can read that here at The MMQBin the next couple of days. Much of what I know is in that story. No, I was not in the Browns’ draft room Thursday night, so I won’t have much of the inside play-by-play drama that I’ve had the past couple of years from Dallas (2016) and San Francisco (2017).

I’ll tell you a few things about the Browns, and then quite a few things—Ozzie Newsome’s emotional goodbye, the crazy rugby-player draftee, the Patriots’ frenetic weekend, the Trade of the Draft, the Packers’ wacky cornerback obsession—about the rest of the league.

A few things I learned about the most significant team in this year’s draft, as the Browns try to put a stop to their current 4-49 bender:

• They got very little action on the No. 4 pick. Four teams called Dorsey with interest in moving up. None got serious. Only one team (I’d guess Arizona) offered a 2019 first-round pick as part of the package to move, which is surprising considering that two quarterbacks were still on the board when the fourth pick came up. The team willing to include its first-rounder next year said to Dorsey before the draft began: “I’m coming up for one player and one player only, and that’s Baker Mayfield.” As Dorsey said: “I knew all along it wasn’t going to happen.” So for those wondering why the Browns didn’t try to pillage some team by moving down a few spots, they never had the chance.

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• Sodium pentathol, and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, came up in the wake of the Denzel Ward pick. Truth serum. My question to Dorsey on Friday morning: “If we gave Gregg Williams sodium pentathol right now, who would he have said he wanted with the fourth pick—Denzel Ward or Bradley Chubb?” Dorsey pulled out his cell phone and rang Williams. I asked him the question. Williams: “Ward. The reason is our need for a press cover cornerback. Denzel probably plays that position as well as anyone I’ve seen in college football in some time. We probably play the most press of any team in the league. There’s another reason. I’ve got a video of 28 snaps of Myles Garrett pass-rushes last year where he gets within two steps or less of the quarterback when the ball comes out. Basically, we aren’t covering long enough to let him get to the quarterback. Myles and others—especially [defensive end] Emmanuel Ogbah—will get more chances because of Denzel.” Ogbah, Williams said, was a major reason why the Browns went Ward over Chubb. “Ogbah’s a rising star in this league,” Williams said. “He’s got a chance to be Chubb.” High praise.

• The track record at quarterback: abysmal. Cleveland has drafted seven quarterbacks in the top three rounds since 2005. None is a current starter in the league, unless you consider The Spring League one. (Manziel is there right now as he tries to make his way back to the NFL.) The magnificent seven: Charlie Frye, Brady Quinn, Colt McCoy, Branden Weeden, Manziel, Cody Kessler, DeShone Kizer. Mayfield can only go up from here. I told Mayfield I met fans Thursday night who thought of him as Manziel 2.0. “It’s understandable, obviously. First-round picks by the Browns, close to the same size, playmakers … But we’re two completely different people. I care about winning. I care about doing things the right way. I just want to be judged for who I am.” 

• Good nugget from Peter Schrager about the Patriots and Mayfield. On the NFL Network telecast, Schrager said the Patriots spent time Monday with Mayfield, which raised some eyebrows. Mike Reiss, in his Sunday column on ESPN, added the fact that it was offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels who visited Mayfield in his hometown of Austin on Monday. That would lend credence to the theory in some corners that if Mayfield dropped down to, say, six or seven in round one, New England might have been able to offer enough to move up from the 23rd pick in the round to tempt a team in trade.