The Browns’ Quarterback Draft Options

Every few years, a franchise finds its fate tied almost entirely to a single draft. In 1999, the Saints traded their entire draft for the rights to select Ricky Williams fifth overall. Ten years later, the Jets parted with their first and second round selections along with three players to bring in Mark Sanchez. And just two years ago, the Redskins traded three first round picks and one second round pick for the second overall pick that they used on Robert Griffin III.

With the 2015 NFL Draft looming, rookie GM Ray Farmer is at the helm of a Browns franchise that will likely be defined for years to come by this May’s draft. The team has lacked a consistent, solid quarterback since it returned to the NFL in 1999, and the rebuilding Browns hold two first-round picks and ten total selections — a plot so enticing that it loosely inspired a major film. To further dramatize the situation, the Browns have been so hush-hush about their approach to selecting a quarterback that, as ESPN’s Pat McManamon puts it, “not even the National Security Agency has been able to determine the Browns’ plans with the most important position with the team.”

It is helpful to consider the ‘first pick’ and ‘later pick’ quarterback considerations. I believe, because Mike Pettine has said he does not need a top five quarterback to win a Super Bowl and is a former defensive coordinator, that the Browns will not feel compelled to draft a quarterback with their first pick, and will instead either go with Auburn tackle Greg Robinson, Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins, or Buffalo pass rushing linebacker Khalil Mack at fourth overall. Furthermore, the Browns have been privately holding workouts with every single top quarterback prospect, which suggests that they have several contingency plans in place for different draft scenarios surrounding the 26th overall pick.

First Pick Options

  • Johnny Manziel: If the Browns are going to take a quarterback with their first pick, I have to believe that they would make the boom-or-bust selection with Manziel. Although many bright NFL minds doubt his durability, Manziel will undoubtedly spark the franchise and thrust it into the NFL limelight, for better or for worse — it’s worth noting that, when their voice has been heard, many Cleveland fans would love any excitement. When new head coach Pettine discusses how he wants to find a quarterback with the “it factor,” it is difficult to imagine that he could be referring to anyone other than Manziel.
  • Blake Bortles: Many agree that Bortles, if available, would be the safer pick given his durability, not to mention how his elite ability to throw the ball downfield would match up with Browns’ All-Pro receiver Josh Gordon. However, several experts speculate that Bortles will have already come off the board before the fourth overall pick.
  • Teddy Bridgewater: Bridgewater is scheduled to visit the Browns over the next 48 hours. However, despite the fact that many suggest that the Louisville product has the best intangibles and decision-making skills of any quarterback in the draft, most reports have suggested that the team is much more intrigued by the likes of Manziel and Bortles.

Later Pick Options

  • Derek Carr: I think if Farmer could design his own 2015 NFL Draft, he would take Watkins at fourth overall (I don’t think the Browns’ signing of Nate Burleson precludes them from taking a receiver this high) and hope that Carr of Fresno State could be had at 26th overall. According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Northeast Ohio Media Group, from everything she can gather, the Browns really like Carr.
  • Aaron Murray: Just five months removed from an ACL repair, Murray is quickly becoming a dark horse candidate for several teams, including the Browns, in the later rounds.
  • A.J. McCarron: The Browns are also planning on hosting McCarron. That the Browns are looking so closely at quarterbacks like McCarron could suggest that they plan on selecting a quarterback far deeper into the draft than the fourth overall pick.
  • The Rest: Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois), Tom Savage (Pittsburgh), Keith Wenning (Ball State)

The Trade Scenario

  • Because the Browns have so many picks, it is very conceivable that they might want to trade for a quarterback. Many have considered the Redskins to be a potential trade partner, given Kirk Cousins’ availability and ability to start right away.

So, what do you think? Will the Browns take a quarterback fourth overall? 26th overall? In later rounds? Post your thoughts in the comment section below.

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6 comments on “The Browns’ Quarterback Draft Options

  1. Sufferfortribe

    I don’t think there are any QBs in this draft worth picking in the top 10. Hopefully Ray Farmer feels this way, too. The ones that intrigue me are Garoppolo, Savage, and Wenning. All 3 are cold-weather QBs, something that is needed when playing on the shores of Lake Erie. If you’ve been there, then you know what I mean. Carr might be a safe pick at #26, but I think he’ll be gone by then. And he’s a warm-weather QB. Our pick at #4 should be DB, OL, or WR. Haden needs someone opposite him, same thing with Gordon at WR and Thomas at OT.

    • gson

      Brilliant posting.. Agree with the detail of what’s needed and why.. There are a couple of scenarios that might come into play. The first and most likely is the Browns keep their pick and take the best O-Line option available in the form of Robinson or Mathews. Mathews is former Cleveland royalty, so the edge goes to him… but only slightly…
      The second option would include the understanding that the Browns believe “their guy” will be on the board at # 7 or # 10. This trade back would permit one of two teams to move up to get Sammy Watkins. In fact, the Browns may draft Sammy Watkins and announce the subsequent trade at the point when one of these two teams, TB or Detroit, would be “on the clock”. It could be too much of a lure for the Browns to be able to select their BPA at #’s 7 or # 10, respectively, while adding at least one or more valuable picks. The additional pick may be a future pick (2015 draft) & I wouldn’t be too upset with that..
      If it’s # 7, and assuming the top three picks are Clowney, Mack and Robinson (in any order), the Browns will follow by selecting Watkins for one of the two teams, then the Browns would be in a position to take one of Bortles, Mathews or Lewan with their first pick. At # 26, they could take a stab with a WR they like or a QB, and reverse the position at # 35…

      • Sufferfortribe

        You’ve thought of some interesting scenarios. It would be nice to acquire some extra picks, and I would love to see another Matthews play in Cleveland. I was upset and screaming at the TV when we passed on Clay, Jr. a few years back. As far as Lewan is concerned, I wish I knew more about his off-field issues. Character is a very important aspect. At #26 they might be able to get a QB of the future. Seems like Savage is also moving up some boards, but not enough to take here. Maybe WR Robinson out of Penn State?

        • gson

          Penn St WR’s don’t have much history of success at the next level.. but there are exceptions.. As far as a WR at that spot.. Marquise Lee would be a fabulous addition.. That could happen if he can sneak by the jets and the chiefs…
          Savage is the best QB from a cold climate in this draft. He’d take at least a season or two to become acclimated with the NFL game..but has all the tools needed to be good or better than good.
          Agree 100 % with the Clay Mathews Jr pass. I threw a slipper at the TV.. upsetting.. knowing how good his dad was.. how much he was revered in Cleveland..and then watching as those bozo’s passed..smh..
          Lewan’s off field stuff..doesn’t concern..he’s a big boy that needs to get his former d-line aggressiveness taken out on someone wearing chicken yellow and blech.
          At # 26 or # 35, consideration for a CB could be given. Either one of Kyle Fuller or Jason Verrett would be okay with me..
          BTW.. if he Browns do fill their QB(#7-Bortles), DB (#26-Fuller), WR (#35 Lee) and O-Line (# 38-Xavier Su’a-Filo), this could become one of the best drafts in the Browns history..

          • Sufferfortribe

            Enjoyed talking Browns with you. You obviously know your stuff. Don’t know how many Browns “fans” kept telling me we need to draft Manziel at #4. Or Carlos Hyde at #26….though I do like the boy from Ohio State! I do feel much better with Ray Farmer making the picks. And I also like the choice of Pettine for HC. Maybe he can get this defense to finish out games. Here’s hoping for a strong draft!! GO BROWNS!!

  2. Shane McMahon

    Trade for Cousins….

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