By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
Updated at 12:55 a.m.
The Morning Kickoff …
Leadoff hitter: After treating the quarterbacks in the draft like a plague – ignoring them at the NFL Combine and shunning their pro days – the Browns finally have shown some life in scouting them.
The Browns dined with Fresno State’s Derek Carr on Sunday night and then put him through a private workout on Monday.
In attendance were General Manager Ray Farmer, head coach Mike Pettine, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains.
After the workout, Carr was a guest on Sirius XM’s Late Hits hosted by Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt. Carr told the hosts, “Everything went great. It went exactly how we wanted it to. Now we just wait till May and see how they’re feeling.”
Carr said that Shanahan conducted the workout and others barked out instructions.
“Everyone was standing there, talking, of course, giving their input, things they wanted to see,” Carr told the hosts. “We do their drills. They really want to tire you out. When you do individual drills, they want to tire you out, see how you’re feeling, really grind you a little bit.
“And then you throw routes when you’re really tired, like a football game. Then some bootlegs, they want to see how you move on the run when you’re tired. Then we do some reads that they have.
“After the reads, then you say, ‘Do you want to see anything else? We’ll show you whatever you want to see to make you feel comfortable.’ I want every team to feel they saw everything they wanted when they leave Fresno. It was a great experience.”
Lifting the cover: This was the first reported workout of a quarterback conducted by the super-secret Browns. The new regime of Farmer and Pettine – first-timers in their present roles -- has raised eyebrows with its surreptitious scouting methods.
The Browns did not use one of their 60 allotted formal interview sessions at the NFL Combine on a quarterback and their coaches were conspicuously absent at all the orchestrated, pro day workouts with passers.
Last week at NFL meetings in Orlando, FL, Farmer said he purposely was trying to conceal the Browns’ intentions regarding quarterbacks and was enjoying keeping everyone in the dark.
But the real work and diligence has to be done, and Carr was the first up in what Pettine said would be a “big list” of private workouts with quarterbacks.
“We’ve always felt – I felt this way coming in and Ray has, too – that you get a lot more out of a private workout when it’s a little less scripted or it’s scripted the way you want it scripted, where you can kind of throw some curveballs at a player and see how they react to it,” Pettine said last week.
“It’s like the difference between a guy hitting home runs at batting practice vs. live pitching. I think it’s important you get that concentrated view of a player instead of something that’s borderline artificial. We certainly get the video of the pro days and see them, so you kind of get the best of both worlds.”
The private workouts enable the Browns – as well as other teams -- the opportunity to grill Carr on video cut-ups of his games at Fresno State.
“Absolutely,” Carr said. “They go through those kind of things.
“Some teams – I won’t get into who -- give you some of their information and they want you to learn their stuff and then they turn the cut-ups on and say, ‘Where would you throw the ball based on the mini-playbook that we gave you?’ They test you in so many different ways. Rightfully so. They should, especially when they’re looking to draft a franchise quarterback. You should take every possible precaution and strategy you can to see what these guys know about football.”
Where he stands: At the Combine, Carr measured 6-2 3/8 and 214 pounds. He entered the pre-draft process as the fourth-ranked quarterback but may have surpassed Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, who had an awful pro day.
Carr is considered to be behind Central Florida’s strapping Blake Bortles and Texas A&M’s dynamic Johnny Manziel in the quarterback rankings.
In three years as a starter at Fresno State, Carr had a record of 24-15 and threw for 113 touchdowns vs. 24 interceptions. His last college game was a dud. He completed 29 of 54 for 216 yards in a 45-20 loss to Southern California in the Las Vegas Bowl.
Carr is the younger brother of quarterback David Carr, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2002 draft by the Houston Texans. David Carr, 34, was 22-53 in five years as the expansion Texans’ starting quarterback. He drifted as a journeyman backup to the Carolina Panthers, New York Giants (twice) and San Francisco 49ers. David Carr is currently unsigned.
Last week, Pettine said of Derek 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 (Texas A&M offensive tackle and son of Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews) -- that it's the old 'don't bet against the genetics.' I think he certainly falls into that category as well.”
If Carr in fact was the first quarterback the Browns chose to work out – a team spokesman would not even confirm the workout – it was not because of their ranking at the position and probably had more to do with logistics.
All private workouts must be done at a player’s college campus or at a nearby geographical location. Perhaps the Browns are knocking off their workouts in a West-to-East direction.
If that is the case, their schedule of the remainder of the top 10 quarterbacks might proceed in this geographical order:
David Fales (San Jose State), San Jose, CA; Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M), College Station, TX; Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois), Charleston, IL; Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville), Louisville, KY; Tom Savage (Pitt), Pittsburgh, PA; A.J. McCarron (Alabama), Tuscaloosa, AL; and Blake Bortles (Central Florida), Orlando, FL.
Georgia’s Aaron Murray and Louisiana State’s Zach Mettenberger both had surgeries on torn ACLs last season and are hopeful to conduct private workouts in late April.
|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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