In case you missed it, NFL Network’s Mike Mayock gave some really quality insights into the Top 3 Quarterback Draft prospects yesterday (Bridgewater, Manziel, Bortles).
Mayock started off by saying he thinks any of the three could play in Cleveland. “I think all three of those top-rated quarterbacks could play for the Cleveland Browns,” Mayock said Tuesday during a conference call. “Bortles is kind of a bigger, stronger guy. People think he’s got the biggest arm. I’m not sure if he does or not. I want to see him live. But I also think he’s the least developed of the three. I think Bridgewater is the most ready-to-play NFL-style quarterback in this draft. And I think Manziel’s got that ‘it’ factor where I don’t think it matters if it’s Cleveland, Seattle, Dallas, warm weather, cold weather, whatever, I think he’s just going to be who he is.” While Mayock seems to lean towards Teddy B, the odds are that the Browns will have their decision simplified by two of the teams in front of them, as the Texans and Jaguars are likely to each take on of the Quarterbacks.
That said, Mayock believes that all three have risks. “None of these guys are Andrew Luck,” Mayock said. “None of these guys are Peyton Manning. None of these guys [make you say], ‘It’s a slam dunk. This is an easy one.’ … I can pick apart all three of them. I could not pick apart Andrew Luck. When it comes to Johnny Football, Mayock cautions that a team will need to fit their system and personnel to his skills; “Manziel is a different kind of evaluation [because of his scrambling style], and you’ve got to buy in and embrace what he does. I love the kid. I love watching him. I think you’re going to have to teach him, and I think he’s going to have to be open to listening and learning. Your team is going to have to change how they play and embrace his style. Bridgewater and Bortles I think, can both be good quarterbacks, but I’m not ready to say either of those are all-pro quarterbacks.” Mayock believes that Bridgewater is the most NFL ready, followed by Manziel, then Bortles. “The reason I think [Bridgewater is] the most ready to play in an NFL-style offense is he was under center, he was in pistol, he was in shotgun, his offense, they threw the ball short, intermediate and deep,” Mayock said. “He understands three-step, five-step [drops]. He reads more than just half a field. So you can put the tape on and watch him do things and say, ‘Yeah, that translates to the next level.’ He’s not as much a wild card as Manziel, and I think he’s more developed in his reads and throws than Bortles.”
On Manziel, Mayock said he believes him to be “a combination of Fran Tarkenton and Doug Flutie.” Mayock also said Manziel becomes “frustrated in the pocket,” which causes him to bail on plays early and leads to some mistakes. “He doesn’t like being confined,” Mayock said. “He likes those open spaces and we have to evaluate him a little differently because of that. [But] I do believe he’s got the arm strength, the athletic ability, the passion for the game. … I believe in the kid. I think he’s going to be a top-10, if not a top-five, pick. But you’re going to have to live with some of the negative plays in addition to the positive ones.” Mayock sees one possible Browns draft day scenario as passing on the top three QB’s, then taking Watkins followed by Derek Carr. “Watkins would be awesome there,” Mayock said. “I think they can get a running back in a bunch of different places, given the number of picks the Browns have this year. [Watkins], if they took him at four, I’m all-in on that kid. He can really play. On Carr, Mayock had some interesting thoughts for the Browns. “I think Carr would be an interesting guy at 26. I didn’t love his USC tape in the bowl game at all, but I do believe he’s got the arm strength and athletic ability to be a starter in the NFL. I don’t think he’s a Pro Bowl-type starter, but I think he’s a competent starter. The question you’ve got to answer yourself is at 26, are you getting a significant improvement over what you think Brian Hoyer is because if you’re not, you need to move on and get another positional player.”
While the Browns draft day strategy remains deliberately mysterious at the moment, neither scenario that Mayock envisions would shock me. I could see the Browns taking any of the Big Three at the moment, trading down picks, or taking Watkins at 4 and a QB later.
For the full teleconference, go here: http://nflcommunications.com/2014/02/18/transcript-of-nfl-network-analyst-mike-mayocks-2014-nfl-scouting-combine-conference-call-tuesday-february-18/