The Potential #4 Pick:
If there is anything we have learned from Free Agency thus far, it is that the Browns are focusing on offense in the draft. Here is my analysis on the 4 prospects that the Browns should be looking at for the #4 pick in the draft.
Sammy Watkins: What’s not to like? He has blazing speed; a 4.43 second 40 time (his unofficial times were 4.38 and 4.39). He has decent (not great) size at 6’1” and 205 pounds. He is believed by many to be the top playmaker in the draft. If Farmer is going to sell the fans on the fact that he wants the best player available, Watkins has to be the choice. I have a hard time buying into any of the quarterbacks in this draft because they all seem to have a high risk/high reward factor about them. With that thought process, can you imagine a Browns team that has Josh Gordon, Jordan Cameron and Sammy Watkins? You could put Weeden back in and they would have decent success (please God, don’t let that happen though). Not to mention any Ohio State fans got plenty of a show from Watkins when he tore up our beloved Buckeyes for 216 yards on 16 receptions and 2 touchdowns.
Opinion: When I think of the best choice for the Browns at this spot, it is the young Clemson wide receiver. It doesn’t matter who else is on the board if he is available at #4, take him. He is my safe choice. My only concern is he has a small injury history and I am of the belief that ‘guys that get hurt will get hurt again.’
Teddy Bridgewater: I have heard over and over how he is ‘the most NFL ready quarterback’ in this draft. At 6’3” and 214 pounds, he fits as a ‘good size’ for a quarterback. He definitely bulked up since the college season. Before I go any further, I do not believe he will be on the board for the Browns to pick. He is likely to go #1 overall to the Texans of #3 overall to the Jaguars. Oddly, he opted to not run the 40 at the combine. Could this decision be related to his 10-20 pound weight gain since the season? That being said, he is not a typical read-option quarterback. His two seasons over 3,000 (nearly 4,000) yards is very attractive.
Opinion: I think even if Bridgewater is there, the Browns should be very skeptical about drafting a quarterback at #4 unless they are 100% certain he will be ‘the guy’. A quarterback that is a bust at the #4 pick sustains the stereotypical ‘same old Browns’. I view him similarly to Robert Griffin III because of their similar body type, which gives me an injury-prone worry about him. This is not necessarily a fair comparison because RGIII is, without a doubt, a read-option quarterback whereas Teddy tends to be more of a pocket passer.
Johnny Manziel: At 5’11(and ¾)”, 209 pounds and a 4.56 official 40 time, he is Johnny football. He is possibly one of the most exciting players to enter a draft in a long time. With that stigma comes the high risk/high reward that I mentioned earlier. He has plenty of off the field issues. That being said, if the national media followed me around when I was a 19 year old freshman in college, I’m sure my parents would have been quite disappointed in most of my actions on the weekend. Aside from his physical characteristics, he brings to the table a winner’s mentality and attitude. He truly looks like he is playing backyard football on most of his highlight reel and he’s playing in the most difficult conference in college football.
Opinion: If you had asked me three months ago who the Browns should draft, I wouldn’t have waited for you to get the question out. He was my choice. Then as time progressed and the combine happened, I find myself thinking the risk is not worth the reward for our #4 overall pick. He will not make it to the Browns 26th pick, so unfortunately I do not think we will see #2 running out of our orange tunnels. The Browns have to hit on their first few rounds in the draft and Manziel could be the next Russell Wilson or he could be the next Doug Flutie. I wouldn’t be mad if the Browns chose him, but I would be skeptical. Rumors have surfaced that he may fall to a spot late in the first round. If this is the case, and he is available at #26, the Browns should pick him up after drafting Watkins without hesitation.
Blake Bortles: Does he have AFC North written all over him or what? Standing at 6’5”, 232 pounds and 9 3/8” hands. He has pretty good speed running a 4.93 official 40 time. He passed for over 3,500 yards this past year and over 3,000 in 2012. He had some very impressive wins on his resume; the biggest being against the at the time #6 BCS ranked Baylor Bears. He tore the Bears up for 301 yards passing and 93 yards on the ground. Also, don’t forget about his poised late fourth quarter comeback against the aforementioned Teddy Bridgewater and Louisville. Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland has been saying for a couple months now that Bortles is the best fit for the Browns. His reasoning typically has to do with Bortles’ size being stereotypical for the AFC North.
Opinion: When I first started considering Bortles for the Browns, my first thought was ‘well Brandon Weeden also fit the AFC North’s size stereotypes and look where that got us.’ After watching his highlight reel, I realized that was an insult to Bortles. However, I still worry about size being a necessity to being a successful NFL quarterback. Personally I believe that being an NFL quarterback, everything has to do with what is above the shoulders. I would argue that his win over Baylor and his comeback against Louisville are much better ‘resume builders’ than his physical characteristics.
Final Word: I wouldn’t be upset if any of these 4 were drafted at #4. My skepticism level changes with each. The #4 pick should be a guy that is capable of immediately coming in and impacting the team. Drafting a quarterback this early is dangerous and comes with much criticism if he does not succeed. Plus, a Sammy Watkins – Josh Gordon combination is just too tempting for me. If it’s up to me, let’s see what Hoyer can do.