May 9, 2014; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns first round draft picks Justin Gilbert (Oklahoma State) and Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M) are introduced to the media with head coach Mike Pettine (left) and general Manager Ray Farmer (left) at the Cleveland Browns Headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Ray Farmer's Staff Review

The Cleveland Browns promoted Ray Farmer to General Manager, after the chaos of the off-season. Farmer is a first time GM but has brought in former co-workers and employees to his staff. Most of Farmer’s staff won’t play a role that fans and media are able to see or understand but they do have a great deal of impact on the future of the Browns. They are responsible for all the advanced scouting that ends up informing trades, signings, free agency and the draft. This group of people build the foundation upon which Farmer makes his decisions. They lead him down paths based on what they see, what they like and what they don’t like, that gives Farmer data.

Cleveland.com did a great job putting together information on the staff. Some of them we already know, some we don’t know as well. Farmer did keep some of the previous staff, which is helpful to create continuity within the room. He also brought in people with a variety of backgrounds to provide new information, new blood in the room. First a list of the holdovers:

Holdovers from the previous staff include Zac Bocian, Brian Decker, Brendan Donovan, Frank Edgerly, Ken Kovash, Deb Kruszynski, Patrick Moore, Chisom Opara, Dan Saganey, Jon Sandusky and Bobby Vega.

Mostly unknown names to many, yet as Farmer noted these guys do all the work needed daily over 12 months to move the organization forward. The one name that will jump out at people is Jon Sandusky, the son of Jerry. They then list the newcomers and information about them, we picked out a couple that we found interesting and want to share our thoughts on:

Ron Hill, senior player personnel associate – Hill comes to the Browns with 34 years of experience as an NFL scout and player personnel executive, most recently serving as the NFL’s vice president of football operations. Hill began his career as a college scout for the Dallas Cowboys, and then worked his way up to regional scout and assistant director of player personnel with the Denver Broncos. He then worked as the Jacksonville Jaguars’ director of pro personnel before serving as the Atlanta Falcons’ vice president of football operations and vice president of player personnel for seven years. Over the course of his time on NFL personnel staffs, Hill has been a part of 10 conference championship berths and four Super Bowls.

Hill is a name known around the NFL for the quality and length of service he has put in. Hill’s depth of experience in both the important and the mundane will be very important to Farmer in his first gig. His success is noted, 10 conference championship berths and 4 Super Bowls is nothing to sneeze at. At some point the concern could be that the NFL has passed him by but his role has more of a figure head title then a decision making one. He will be a voice in the room but more helpful with the other parts of the GM role.

James Kirkland, senior player personnel associate – Kirkland most recently worked as a pro scout for the Tennessee Titans in 2013. He got his NFL start as a volunteer scouting intern with the Falcons. Kirkland was hired by the Browns in 2004 as an area scout. He was later promoted to assistant director of pro personnel in 2007. After three seasons in that role, Kirkland worked with the Chicago Bears from 2010-12 as a pro scouting assistant, a pro scout and an area scout.

Always a soft spot for someone who worked his way up through the ranks. Kirkland’s role with the Browns jump dramatically from 2004 as an area scout to 2007 as assistant director of pro personnel. Obviously anyone in the Browns organization has had instability in their job and he didn’t last very long but 3 years in Cleveland is like an eternity.

Colton Chapple, BLESTO – Chapple began working as a scout on the Browns player personnel staff in 2013 after graduating from Harvard. Chapple played quarterback for four years at Harvard, throwing for 2,567 yards and 24 TDs as a senior in 2012.

And lastly we have the young guy who played at Harvard and now is responsible for BLESTO? BLESTO is why we chose to include Chapple as we had no idea what BLESTO was and why it was included. We have come to find out that it stands for Bears, Lions, Eagles, Steelers Talent Organization. Originally it was LESTO before the Bears joined. Basically this organization gets together information from the teams that area  part of it following the current years draft, to prepare for the next year’s draft. Chapple will be responsible to make presentations on players and gather information from the other scouts.

Generally teams send their newest scouts for this role and if good get swiped up by other teams quickly. It can also greatly impact the quality of the information given and received at BLESTO gatherings. So it could have little impact on the day to day operations of the team but can help the team gather new information about players for the upcoming draft. We learned something new today, how about you?

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