By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
Fans can’t understand why I would have the Browns passing on Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater with two picks in the first round for the second mock draft in a row. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’ll change my mind before May 8, but I doubt it.
Hey Tony: I noticed that in your Mock Draft 5.0 and 6.0 you don't have anyone drafting Teddy Bridgewater in the top 26 picks. In 4.0 you have him going to the Raiders with the 5th pick. What gives, did he steal your car? If you could have 1 QB in this draft, no trade ups or anything, who do you like and why?
-- Ed, Benton, TN
Hey Ed: For the second week in a row, my mock draft shows Bridgewater dropping at least to the Browns’ pick at No. 26 – and the Browns ignoring him. Maybe it won’t happen. Maybe some team will take a chance on a QB with small hands who played at under 200 pounds his last season at Louisville who needs to wear a glove to grip the ball properly. If I could have one quarterback, it probably would be Blake Bortles. I’m not 100 percent sold on him or Johnny Manziel, but I would take either before I’d choose Bridgewater, I know that.
Hey Tony: I don't disagree with Watkins at # 4, but you didn't have Bridgewater picked through the Browns’ second pick. Most analysts have him rated fairly high. Do you think his poor pro day dropped him that far? I question the Shazier pick at # 26. Pettine likes corners and tried unsuccessfully to pick up another quality CB in free agency. If Haden goes down, the Browns are in big trouble. Bradley Roby has the size and speed that would help with the big receivers. I think an ILB will be easier to find later in the draft. Waiting until the second round for that QB is risky. I think teams will move up in round 2 to grab that QB ahead of the Browns. I really think the Browns will use pick # 26 on a QB. Of course, most Browns fans will want a QB picked anywhere but that second pick in the first round.
-- Rick, Shreveport, LA
Hey Rick: I wouldn’t be opposed to the Browns taking Roby or another cornerback at No. 26. It’s very difficult to project that pick. There’s no doubt I will change my selection before my final official prediction in mock draft 12.0 on May 8. I may even wind up picking a quarterback there (but not Bridgewater). The point is, the draft is May 8. For the most part, not even the teams themselves know exactly who they are taking right now.
Hey Tony: Do you think NFL mock drafts in the hands of some sportswriters have evolved from an attempt to accurately forecast the NFL draft into a vehicle used to draw attention to themselves or create buzz by intentionally sacrificing accuracy for "shock value"?
-- Keith, Cleveland, OH
Hey Keith: I don’t know. I can only speak for myself. For 20 years, I only did a mock draft for the day of the draft. This year, I will do 12 of them. They are fun and spark conversation and debate. I am in the conversation business – both online and on air. I will say that my final mock draft, mock 12.0, is the one that serves as my official prediction on the this year’s draft. The others – as teams say – are part of the process.
Hey Tony: Am I crazy for thinking that the Browns should at least kick the tires on Tim Tebow … as a fullback? Seems like he’d be solid on short-yardage situations as a blocker or runner. He’s athletic as can be. Nobody seems to want him as a QB, so why not gauge his interest in coming to town to play fullback? We obviously need one. He would give the Browns an emergency QB if ever needed, and an option for the occasional trick play with his throwing ability. What do you think?
-- Bill, Austin, TX
Hey Bill: I think Tebow’s multitude of fans should accept the probability that he may never take another snap in the NFL again. I’m sure that Tebow has accepted it.
Hey Tony: "No matter the duds, winning sells". Your quote and I agree 100%. So let's leave the only thing we actually have going for us (our traditional uniforms), and get on with winning. My question, what do you think the word on Mingo is? I wasn't thrilled last year but certainly think he could be a player for us.
-- Craig, Atlanta, GA
Hey Craig: Mike Pettine was a fan of Mingo’s a year ago, so I expect he and his staff to do everything possible to make Mingo more productive. I still question Mingo’s strength and ability to beat offensive linemen with more than one pass-rush move. As for the uniforms, I am on record as favoring a complete redesign with primarily the same colors. I would not be opposed to the introduction of a third color (gray).
Hey Tony: Any idea how the stadium renovations are going?
-- Jayson, Parma, OH
Hey Jayson: I was told by Browns President Alec Scheiner that Phase 1 of the renovation project is on time and on budget. The Browns expect to have most of Phase 1 completed for the third preseason game. The Browns have scheduled their first two preseason games on the road to give them an extra week to get the work done on their seating reconfiguration and installation of a stunning new scoreboard and sound system.
Hey Tony: I am a big believer in Bridgewater and think if he is there at #4 the Browns need to take him no matter what. That said after Pettine's comments on Khalil Mack I wanted to watch some game tape of his. I thought he was very good against lower end teams but when playing good teams he was only ok. I then watched Anthony Barr and he was just so-so but shows some potential. Then I watched Jadeveon Clowney and WOW! That guy is amazing. He is the only franchise game changing pass rusher I have seen in this draft. I just wonder if he could play OLB in the 3-4. What do you think? Is he a player whose talents would be minimized in a 3-4 or is he capable of playing as an OLB?
-- Este, San Francisco, CA
Hey Este: Yes, Clowney could fit quite easily in Pettine’s “multi-front” 3-4 system. He looks like a player Pettine would move all over his defensive front seven to keep teams guessing from which angle he would rush the passer. Clowney certainly has the athletic ability to drop into coverage, though you wouldn’t want to waste him doing that too often. One risk with Clowney is that he took plays off last year to preserve himself for his pro career. He had three sacks. Yes, teams concentrated on reducing his impact. But it’s not going to get any easier for him in the NFL.
Hey Tony: I heard a comment from Bruce Arians saying that as long as Karlos Dansby is "accepted in the locker room" he will do big things on the field. Do you know what he meant by that? Is there some concern or past experience with him not meshing well with other players?
-- Rob, Cleveland Heights, OH
Hey Rob: I didn’t hear the comment and don’t know the context. Perhaps Arians was referring to the fact that Dansby will be a newcomer to the Browns’ locker room and sometimes new players are not embraced instantly as team leaders. If there is something more than that, I am not aware of it.
Hey Tony: I totally agree with your idea for preseason -- the one home, one away, one neutral site. Great idea. For overtime, I’m good with the sudden death also. But what about this: just play an 8 or 10 minute quarter. No special rules, no sudden death. You start with say 8 minutes, team kicks off. If receiving team scores a TD, game is not over. It’s just 7-0. The other team then plays the rest of the game as if it were a normal game and they are down by 7. This keeps all facets involved: offense, defense, special teams. Offenses aren’t getting a break by starting at the 25 (like in college) when they maybe would have trouble advancing it there normally. There is no gimmick or flukiness with the sudden death, which is how some perceive it. And hey, if some team is good enough to control the ball for all 8 minutes and kick a field goal as time runs out, shame on the defense for never giving their offense a chance by not getting off the field. This seems to be the most sensible, yet I have never heard it brought up.
-- Jim, Northfield, OH
Hey Jim: The reason your idea wouldn’t fly with NFL coaches, players and rule-makers is because it prolongs a tie game to an additional eight minutes of game time, and thus increases the opportunities for further injuries. The league is on a big player safety kick and considers extra plays in a game to be extra chances for injuries. Personally, I would rather see the OT rules revert back to true sudden death – first score wins, even if it’s a field goal.
Hey Tony: Do you see the Browns trading for Evan Mathis? A third-round pick isn't a lot for a top guard, a position we're in desperate need of. I know that he only has one year left on his contract, but if Mack isn't going to accept our long-term offers couldn't we use the money set aside for Mack towards keeping Mathis here for years to come?
-- Alexander, North Ridgeville, OH
Hey Alexander: Mathis is 32 years old. The Browns already invested heavily in a player that age (Dansby). I don’t think they want to invest in another. Further, the Browns are not going to let Mack walk away for nothing. They insist he wants to remain a Brown and are hopeful they ultimately will sign him long-term. If not, he will play in 2014 under the transition tag.
Hey Tony: As a forever fan, please allow me some constructive criticism: I think you have been star struck by Ray Farmer and Mike Pettine. I have read your columns and listened to your conversations with Munch, Dino, Jerod, et al., and it as though you have been cast under a spell. First, Ray Farmer has been repeating the same mantra over and over, and you seem to believe you have discovered the holy grail. Second, Mike Pettine disclosed nothing. You wrote about his "impressive display of analyzing the players...."; really Tony? Don't you think his observations would be repeated, verbatim, by any GM, head coach or scout in the NFL? Or, by subscribing to Mel Kiper or his many clones? While never a journalist, I have heard it said that the first rule of your professing is something like "if your mother tells you she loves you, check it out." Please revisit your Farmer and Pettine interviews, and I am of the opinion that you will discover NOTHING incisive.
-- Wes, Dunnellon, FL
Hey Wes: It’s funny. When I do question anything the Browns say, I am ripped for being negative. When I finally accept something they say, I am ripped for being “star struck.” Really?
Hey Tony: When people speculate about the Browns it seems Jimmy Haslam's legal problems come up and I don't understand why. While the Browns are a Haslam asset and might be claimed as part of a lien settlement, don't the Browns operate solely on their own without his financial help? If so, should we be concerned about his Flying J problems?
-- Bill, Canton, OH
Hey Bill: Here are two ways Haslam’s ownership of the Browns could be impacted by a worst-case scenario in the Pilot Flying J case: 1. If Haslam’s net worth or cash flow is affected so adversely by a negative outcome that he would not have the ability to operate the club sufficiently, the NFL would demand he find a buyer. Has the league done it before? Absolutely. It forced Art Modell to sell the Baltimore Ravens because he didn’t have the cash flow as a result of years of debt he collected before and after his relocation in 1996. 2. If the federal government successfully prosecutes specific charges of racketeering against Haslam, and proves Haslam used money illegally received to purchase the Browns, it could seize the Browns, whereupon they would be sold. These are two doomsday scenarios, mind you. Haslam has professed his innocence of any wrongdoing and so far no charges have been brought against him in the case. But there is a reason NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said at league meetings this week, “Let’s see how (the case) unfolds” before he would comment on the future of the Browns.
Hey Tony: The more I've thought about this, the more I feel not signing Matt Schaub may be a major mistake. Obviously, his last season in Houston was a disaster and he wouldn't have been the long term solution, but he would have walked into the Browns with easily the best track record and experience of anyone on their roster now. He was also the best veteran available this off-season. Hoyer remains untested and largely an unknown. I'm starting to think Farmer may have really blown it on this. Thoughts?
-- Paul, Seattle, WA
Hey Paul: I agree that Schaub’s NFL resume is better than Hoyer’s, and any other veteran quarterback available this year. I don’t agree with your conclusion, however. I believe Schaub lost his confidence last season in Houston under the weight of Super Bowl expectations. While he certaintly will upgrade the quarterback position of the Oakland Raiders, I believe the Browns are in a better place with Hoyer and a rookie QB and would not want Schaub’s presence interfering with that dynamic. Bottom line is I don’t think Schaub – at this stage of his career – is capable of taking any team anywhere.
|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 hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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