After their recent trade of running back Trent Richardson to the Colts, the Browns now have enough ammunition to move to the top of the 2014 draft.
Some would say that, without Richardson, the Browns may not need to move very far to get there.
Regardless, Browns CEO Joe Banner told PFT Live in the aftermath of the deal that speculation the team will target a quarterback is “well founded.” So who will they find when the time comes to pick?
Albert Breer of NFL Network collects the potential pro prospects. The big names belong to Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and Texas A&M quarterback Johhny Manziel, if Manziel chooses to give up one last year in the place he’s already said he can’t wait to leave. Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, Brett Hundley of UCLA, and Kevin Hogan of Stanford also could choose to enter the draft early.
Definite entries in the Class of 2014 will be Alabama’s AJ McCarron, Clemson’s Tajh Boyd, David Fales of San Jose State, and Derek Carr of Fresno State.
Manziel’s prospects have been and will continue to be debated, ad nauseum. Does he have the height? The frame? How does he handle pressure in the pocket? How strong is his arm? Will he cause distractions, either from his off-field behavior or through a Tebowmania-style celebrity?
Despite the questions and concerns, someone will draft Manziel. Maybe not in the first five picks, but at some point in the first five rounds.
Making things even more interesting will be a potentially unprecedented supply of veteran quarterbacks, in free agency or otherwise. Typically, huge names hit the market only if there are serious injury issues, like with Drew Brees in 2006 and Peyton Manning in 2012. Next year, healthy quarterbacks with a higher Q rating than Quincy Carter (circa 2002) could be available, from Jay Cutler to Josh Freeman to Mark Sanchez to Christian Ponder to Blaine Gabbert to Chad Henne to Mike Vick to Brandon Weeden to Matt Flynn to even Sam Bradford. More names could be added to the list if the Pats decide to trade Ryan Mallett, or if the Redskins opt to flip Kirk Cousins for something more than the fourth-round pick they used to get him. (That’s unlikely, and arguably unwise.)
With free agency coming before the draft some teams will play it safe, addressing their immediate needs with a veteran before determining whether to draft a quarterback of the future. Ultimately, however, every organization needs to remember that there two types of NFL teams: the few that have franchise quarterbacks and the many that are looking for franchise quarterbacks.
The veterans who’ll be available will be available for a reason. To find a franchise quarterback, teams will need to decide which of the incoming rookies they love — and then whether they can head to Radio City Music Hall and get him.
That’s the easy part. The real challenge comes from making a guy who is expected to be a franchise quarterback into a franchise quarterback.