By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
When it comes to scouting quarterbacks in the draft, the Browns have gone from flying under radar and stealthily doing their own thing to now literally being all over the map.
Coach Mike Pettine said on Tuesday the team is going through the logistics of scheduling its private workout tour of all the top quarterbacks in the draft. And not just the obvious top three.
“It’s a big list,” Pettine said at NFL league meetings.
“This is a deep quarterback class. It’s deep and varied. That’s the interesting thing. You have pro-style offenses in college, like what (Teddy) Bridgewater did. You have (Johnny) Manziel at Texas A&M, which is pro-style, but there’s a different element to him (with) all the skill sets. Then you have more of the guys a little bit more spread (offense) type.
“It’s an interesting class. But there’s more than just the first three. There are some other guys down the line that are impressive on their college teams.”
The Browns have dismissed the pro-day workouts as wastes of time. Only GM Ray Farmer and scouts attended those of Bridgewater and Blake Bortles, and Farmer won’t even attend Manziel’s on Thursday.
But all hands will be on deck for their private tours of the quarterbacks, including Pettine, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains.
Private workouts of draft-eligible players can only be held at the school or in the region of where the player attended college. Personal visits to Browns headquarters also are on tap, though they will use several of their limit of 30 on non-quarterbacks.
Pettine revealed that while the team did not “formally” interview quarterbacks at the NFL Combine last month, Shanahan and Loggains did talk to all the quarterbacks “informally” in a mass, assembly-line format dubbed the “train station” at the Combine.
But now is time to zero in on the qualities other than the obvious physical ones, and this is where the private time will really assist the Browns.
“I’m looking for a guy that’s got that ‘it’ factor,” Pettine said. “We are going to work out to see how they are physically, but at the same time do a lot of homework from a background standpoint, talking to guys, people they’ve played with, coaches, just trying to see who has that ‘it’ factor.
“You see a lot of guys that have the physical talent to play and there’s just something missing. I think you’ve seen a lot of guys that have overcome not having a huge arm, not being the fastest, they’ve overcome it with the intangibles.”
Pettine was asked to give a snapshot analysis of each of the top four quarterbacks, with Fresno State’s Derek Carr being No. 4.
* On Bortles:
“He has all the measurables. If you look at him, if you said draw me an NFL quarterback, that's probably who you'd draw. I think the thing that's impressive about him is his ability in crunch time in a lot of tight games, a lot of come-from-behind wins. You can see he's confident, can make all the throws. I think he's a better athlete than some people give him credit for.”
* On Bridgewater:
“I think he's extremely accurate. You can tell he's a very cerebral quarterback. He understands the game very well. Understands coverages, that kind of jumps off the tape at you. To me, he seems very unfazed by things. He plays very well under pressure. He's a guy that's NFL-ready. It doesn't seem to be too big for him. He kind of has that calming presence out there. Some quarterbacks get real emotional, get real fired up and he's not that. He kind of has that quiet confidence about him.”
* On Manziel:
“Gifted playmaker. The play starts when he makes the first guy miss. That's exciting to watch, but to transition to the NFL, he'll have to be able to play in structure, his fifth step, his foot hits the ground so that he can execute a throw. I don't think there's any reason to think that wouldn't happen and I think he's capable of doing it, but when you have that ability to improvise like that, that's what makes him special and maybe separates him from other guys.”
* On Carr:
“I think he's the best natural thrower as far as arm strength and when you're just looking at the guy, natural thrower, in the draft. Very physically-gifted. And a lot of times it's hard to bet against the family history as well. You're talking about like a Jake Matthews that it's the old 'don't bet against the genetics.' I think he certainly falls into that category as well.”
Pettine reiterated the company lines that the Browns don’t feel pressed to force the issue at quarterback at No. 4 and may be content to select one – even two, but not likely – later in the draft.
“It’s a position that’s important for us and we are putting a lot of work into it,” he said. “The fourth pick, I think there’s going to be some outstanding players available. But I also think we are in a position, given where the roster is right now, that if that best player is a quarterback, we’re in a position to take him. And if it’s not, I think it’s a deep enough class that we could pursue that option later in the draft.
“I don’t think you want to force it. If that guy’s not there at that pick, I don’t think you force the issue and say this is the quarterback of the future.
“So we’re doing our homework on all these guys and we’re going to log a lot of miles here in the next couple weeks and hopefully we can find that quarterback that’s going to best serve the Cleveland Browns.”
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Use the hastage #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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