The NFL has two types of teams: Those with franchise quarterbacks, and those trying to find a franchise quarterback.
Within the latter characterization is a subcategory: Those so desperate to find a franchise quarterback that they’ll do anything to get one however they can and whatever it takes.
The Browns sit atop that subcategory. After burning a first-round pick in 2012 on Brandon Weeden and a first-round pick in 2014 on Johnny Manziel, the Browns are truly interested in using their two first-round picks in 2015 to move up and get Marcus Mariota, per multiple league sources.
Cleveland has selections No. 12 and No. 19. They acquired the 19th pick from Buffalo after trading down only five spots last year, from No. 4 to No. 9, so that the Bills could get receiver Sammy Watkins. Given that the price to jump from No. 9 to No. 4 in 2014 was a future first-round pick and a future fourth-round pick, it’s hard to know whether the No. 12 and No. 19 picks would be enough to get Mariota.
One major factor will be how high the Browns have to go to get him. If the Titans don’t take Mariota at No. 2 (and there’s a definite belief in some circles that they won’t, regardless of whether they should), the Jaguars at No. 3 and the Raiders at No. 4 surely won’t take him, because they each picked up competent young quarterbacks in last year’s draft. Would No. 12 and No. 19 be enough to give up a shot at edge rusher Dante Fowler, Jr. (for the Jaguars) or receivers Kevin White/Amari Cooper (for the Raiders)?
If not, Washington becomes the hot spot at No. 5. They’ve been trying to create the impression that they’d take Mariota if he’s there. That could be aimed at ensuring someone else takes him in the first four picks, pushing the guy they really want into their clutches. Or it could be aimed at creating leverage for a trade, with the “or else” in the negotiations being that, absent an offer that gets their attention from a team that covets Mariota, Washington will simply take him.