Cleveland is the place to be right now, as far as sports in America is concerned. LeBron James is home and back with the Cavaliers. Johnny Manziel’s 24-hour party is in town, and he might just play some football, too. When not monitoring Manziel’s cavalcade of fun, Browns fans wait to hear if star wide receiver Josh Gordon will be suspended for a year for violating the NFL’s drug policy.

Dan Saganey ignores it all. The Browns open the regular season on Sept. 7 in Pittsburgh, and Saganey needs to help make sure the team has enough talent to beat the Steelers.

“I’m really not paying much attention to anything else,” Saganey said. “There’s a good energy around here, for sure.”

A 2005 graduate of Colby College, Saganey is in his sixth year with the Browns, his first as Cleveland’s coordinator of pro personnel.

What does a coordinator of pro personnel do, exactly?

“I get asked that a lot,” Saganey said.


Saganey scouts. He scouts the Browns, evaluating the talent already on the team. He scouts the rest of the NFL, looking for players who can help the Browns when the inevitable injuries pile up and the roster churns. When another team releases a player, Saganey needs to know as much as possible about that player. Can he make Cleveland a better team? Saganey needs to know, because General Manager Ray Farmer and first-year head coach Mike Pettine are going to ask.

“My job is to know who’s available, who’s on the street,” Saganey said. “Our job right now is to evaluate our own team and make sure we have the right players in place to help us win. This is one of the most fun months of the year.”

Despite its place in the Division III New England Small College Athletic Conference, a league that looks at football as a fun distraction more than anything else, Colby has a pipeline to the NFL, most notably in Eric DeCosta, a former Mule who is assistant general manager for the Baltimore Ravens. Colby grad Mark Azevedo is a regional scout for the Ravens, and was Saganey’s roommate at Colby. Azevedo was a year ahead of Saganey at Colby, and when Saganey saw his friend working in the NFL right out of college, he thought, that looks like fun.

Now the friends who were each others’ best man in their weddings rarely speak during the season. The Browns and the Ravens, who became the Ravens when they left Cleveland for Baltimore in 1996, are the Hatfields and McCoys of the NFL.

“Unfortunately, we’re division rivals,” Saganey said.

An offensive lineman at Colby, Saganey got into coaching before joining the Browns, first at Bentley College, then at Harvard. His first job with the Browns was scouting assistant. He spent a lot of time making tapes of players for the coaching staff and general manager. He went out to schools to scout players and learn the evaluation process. Even now that he’s moved up in the organization, Saganey’s days often start before dawn and end well after sundown.


“It is long days, but it’s exciting,” Saganey said.

Among the players scouted by Saganey who have come to Cleveland and helped the Browns are linebacker Eric Martin, strong safety Jordan Poyer, and tight end Marqueis Gray. Not stars, but the kind of guys who can come off the bench and play. The kind of guys who make the bottom of a roster stronger.

“Our roster is full of guys like that,” Saganey said. “We’re not afraid to being a guy in.”

When the Browns are playing the Steelers in Week 1, Saganey will be in Atlanta, scouting the New Orleans Saints, Cleveland’s Week 2 opponent. Six years in, Saganey’s career in the NFL is just starting.

“In the long run, I’d love to be a GM,” Saganey said. “I’m a long way from there. I’ve got so much to learn. I’ve got some good people here to learn from.”

Since rejoining the NFL in 1999, the Browns have made the playoffs once, in 2002. Cleveland hasn’t had a winning record since 2007. There’s a lot of improvement to be had. Colby and Cleveland have little in common, but when the Browns do have success, Saganey will deserve some of the credit.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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