All signs point to the Browns drafting a quarterback in the first round of this year’s draft, according to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. As new head coach Mike Pettine sets out to return his team to relevancy in the AFC North, he and the rest of Cleveland’s front office must decide whether a collegiate star like Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, or Blake Bortles can become the Brown’s long-coveted savior under center. Citing unnamed sources, CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora recently wrote that the Browns would be willing to trade up in the draft to grab Manziel if necessary, but Browns CEO Joe Banner said that although he is by no means taking the Texas A&M star off the board, it is far too early to make such a determination.
Of course, the Browns do have Brian Hoyer on the roster, who impressed in limited action in the 2013 season. Hoyer won the two games that he started last season before tearing his ACL in the first quarter of his third start against the Bills. Ulrich notes that Hoyer is expected to be ready for organized team activities in May, but given the severity of the injury, nothing is certain in that regard.
Hoyer does have Pettine’s endorsement on his side. Shortly after being hired by the Browns, Pettine called Hoyer a “winner” with “off the charts” intangibles (link). However, it may be difficult for the Browns to pass on a talent like Manziel or Bridgewater, especially since they have two first-round picks to work with (Nos. 4 and 26 overall). If La Canfora’s sources are accurate and the Browns are indeed targeting Manziel, they may well have to move up to get him. ESPN Insider Mel Kiper recently predicted Manziel would be taken by the Texans with the first overall selection.