My final quarterback ratings heading into the draft:
Since early January, when the college football season concluded, multiple things have occurred to alter impressions (among scouts, media, and general manager) regarding signal callers to be drafted. Let me preface this by stating that any of the top three would be a reach at the fourth pick – however if Ray Farmer deems him the guy, I fully support it. I first take a look at the three headliners, then a few middle-round options:
1 – Teddy Bridgewater
I’ve said it before, and I’ll reiterate it further – to quote coach Pettine “tape don’t lie”. Bridgewater looked great on during his 2013 campaign, especially in his bowl game against the University of Miami. I’m discounting glove-gate (yep, I’m a true media member), and the most important thing about the quarterback is how he can sling the football and handle pressure. Most of his knocks have been about his “smallish frame” – another example of something that is not concerning. I’ll send the guy to the buffet then; his style of play does not resemble Michael Vick’s (who runs constantly) – therefore adding weight is not a huge detriment for Bridgewater. If he’s there at four and he’s the consensus, I’m all for taking him. However, should he fall past Minnesota; a trade-up from the twenty-six position would not be a bad idea.
2 – Johnny Manziel
The lightning rod of the draft; the byproduct of pushing back the draft has been hearing Manziel’s name more than I would have ever thought. Yes, he has played tremendous competition in the SEC. Also, he has won big games – the quarterback also plays recklessly and is deemed by many as undersized. I believe he can have success in the NFL; but the length of his career will be shorter than that of Bridgewater (in my opinion). Also, I feel his percentage of turning the football over will be higher than his predecessor; necessitating a team with an opportunistic defense. Could he reslove those issues? Time will only tell, but that alone keeps Manziel at the second spot. Both signal callers can take NFL franchises to the Super Bowl; therefore I would be ok with Manziel at the fourth pick – provided Bridgewater has been selected.
3 – Blake Bortles
Possessing the right size and strength has been the main praise for Blake Bortles. He did excel this past season, but his collegiate career was not one of dominance (as was the case with Manziel and Bridgewater). That’s not to say Bortles won’t have a great professional career, but I feel confident in guys who have done it mulitple times as a collegiate. Additionally, he has been labeled as a “project” and not an opening day starter – which he admitted. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I would prefer a signal caller who wants to steal the job from the incumbent; and never surrender it. Plain and simple, his mentality is not what I would want in a quarterback. Can he be a solid NFL quarterback? Sure, but I fail to see him as a franchise changer – and he is therefore the third-ranked signal caller in this draft.
The only three remaining targets for the Browns, assuming they are not sold on the first three, would be Aaron Murray, Zach Mettenberger, and Jimmy Garoppolo. I believe all will go in the middle rounds, and will likely sit on the bench at least a season. Could one of these projects become a steller guy under center? Possibly, but I would rather another franchise find out. That being said, I would accept any of the three during the third round or later. Derek Carr has never impressed me; despite being tall and getting the football out early, I worry about his pocket presence.
Conclusion: Ideally, the Browns would draft Bridgewater with their first selection, or possibly Manziel as an “all in” effort. This may not be the case, and Ray Farmer could opt for a “position player” instead. Should that be the case, they might as well refrain from Derek Carr later in the first round and choose one of the final three listed with one of their third round selections. Thankfully, all this speculation will end soon.