The team reportedly was “prepared to move heaven and earth” for the rookie passer of its choice, but NFL Media’s Daniel Jeremiah says we’ve been focused on the wrong guy all along.
“The one thing about the combine is, you get there, you’re around all your contacts, a lot of different NFL people,” Jeremiah told “The Dan Patrick Show” on Wednesday. “And it had been so out there that the Browns loved Manziel under the previous regime, and I talked to enough people that firmly believe that that was a total smokescreen.”
Said Jeremiah: “Their guy is (Fresno State quarterback) Derek Carr and they’re going to take a different player with the fourth pick and they want to take Derek Carr with their second one (at No. 26). … I heard that from several different places.”
On paper, a more manageable plan with the Jaguars sitting at No. 3, one spot ahead of Cleveland. “I think Jacksonville is the first place I look,” Jeremiah said of a Manziel landing spot.
Both Jeremiah and NFL Media’s Mike Mayock rank Carr fourth among quarterback prospects behind Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Football and Blake Bortles. Carr, of course, has plenty of work to do to equal Manziel’s charming words for Browns fans.
“I’m going to pour my heart out for the Dawg Pound and try to win a Super Bowl for Cleveland,” Manziel said before the combine. “I don’t care if they’ve had 20 starting quarterbacks since 1999. I’m going to be the 21st and the guy that brought them the Super Bowl.”
Sounds like a plan, except — from where we stand today — the Browns plan to make someone else tha 21st guy.
Now, on the surface, part of this sounds good, as it likely would mean that the Browns were looking at Sammy Watkins at 4, which is a hard pick to knock. The problem is taking Derek Carr in the first round. For the record, writing Derek Carr off because his brother was a failed NFL QB is stupid, and really inaccurate. Derek is a better QB than his brother, easily. If the name thing was the only hang up, I wouldn’t be writing this. If we just went off the NFL Combine, Carr would likely be a top 10 pick. He ran an impressive 4.69 40 (good for a QB), he has great, probably elite arm strength, and can be very accurate at times. In fairness, the younger Carr also is a high IQ player who can make very good adjustments pre-snap.
If that was the end of the scouting report, fine. Carr would likely be a top 5-10 draft pick, and I would be pleased if the Browns nabbed him. The downsides with Carr are extremely problematic. Simply, he melts away in big moments and completely folds under pressure. The most recent example of this was the Bowl matchup against USC. Now, USC’s defense, while but bad, is far from elite. They ranked 70th in the nation last year against the pass, but with Carr they left him looking confused and by the end, exposed. Nearly every time they brought pressure, Carr would freeze, locking on to a single receiver, and either taking an avoidable hit, or making a bad throw. Carr’s footwork when rushed is seriously bad, and it shows up in his delivery in those situations.
If it was something coachable, like a footwork or mechanics issue, it wouldn’t be as concerning. The problem is that it’s hard to teach someone confidence. Confidence is intangible trade like leadership. Frankly, it either something you have, or something you don’t. and Derek Carr simply does not have confidence when he faces tough defenses or pressure. I hate to draw the comparison, but his trouble under pressure should sound familiar to Browns fans. Brandon Weeden struggles in the same way. He freezes up, locks on to one receiver, and makes bad throws when faced with a pass rush.
Now if we were talking about drafting him in the mid round, I wouldn’t be as concerned. But we’ve been down this road before. When you take a quarterback in the first round ,they’re expected to be capable starting from day one. Carr is not, and with his confidence issues, he may never be.
I get it. It’s smoke screen and deception season in the NFL. Still, this particular rumor worried me. Carr is one of only two QB’s in this draft that I am completely opposed to drafting, which should say a lot. When the Browns new front office does decide to take a quarterback, it’s a decision that they can’t afford to get wrong.