Crusin' in the Fast Lane

Lane Adkins offers his latest insight on the Browns draft plans, as we continue to wait for draft day, which is still three weeks away.

The Browns remain in the market for two quarterbacks, one is expected to come via the draft and the other in free agency.

As my inbox and email fill up with talk of the Browns taking at quarterback at No. 4 — because someone in the media says it's a good idea — I am still not inclined to simply say 'yes' the Browns are selecting a quarterback with the fourth selection in the draft. I do believe the Browns are seriously considering the option.

Personally, while the importance of securing that ever-elusive franchise quarterback is believed to be essential, I remain skeptical about using the fourth overall pick on such questionable talent.

That isn't to say there isn't a quarterback in this draft that won't become the next best thing. I certainly believe we will see talent coming out of this draft class at the position and they will become significant player(s).

Every time you hear the names Johnny Manziel or Teddy Bridgewater, you're surely to hear the names Jimmy Garoppolo and Derek Carr.

If that isn't enough, word trickles in that Zach Mettenberger, Aaron Murray and Blake Bortles are targets.

In film study, not simply my own, but in sitting with a current coach, a current player personnel director, a former quarterback and a rival executive, I only continue to reaffirm initial thoughts on the qualities of each feasible quarterback in this draft. These experienced and qualified football men do share differing views on these quarterbacks and whether or not if any can be that elusive franchise quarterback.

One thing is certain in this pursuit, the Browns have been mentioned in the same sentence with nearly every available quarterback in this upcoming draft.

As I hear it, general manager Ray Farmer knows exactly which quarterback he would like to secure in the draft, and he has done a very good job in keeping the masses guessing.

We have been told Farmer has been in on Bridgewater and Carr for months. TheOBR has recently learned the Browns did not expect the opportunity of Bortles being on the board when they select, which has become a speculated possibility.

The wild-cards in the process are Bortles and Manziel. Bortles is looked at as a quarterback that will require time to hone his skills, while Manziel is a polarizing figure, a very good athlete that will energize and change the way an offense functions because his ability to improvise and run.

Being said, let's get on with it…

- TheOBR is hearing teams have a higher regard for Bridgewater and Carr than many of the draft pundits across the country. Many team scouts and evaluators believe Bridgewater does everything well, from production against differing pressure groups to making throws all over the field. The persistent question about Bridgewater is his deep-ball accuracy — not his size or hand-size.

Carr is often looked at a player in a scheme (Fresno State) that did what they had to do to be successful. According to our league friends, Carr is athletic, understands what he sees, throws a very good, catchable ball but often throws off his back foot. Many teams have looked back to footage of Carr prior to the scheme changes in college to gain another perspective of the quarterback in a pro-set offense. The evaluation provided insight to his footwork and mechanics.

- TheOBR has been told the Browns believe Manziel is the hardest quraterback to defend of the prospects because of his athleticism and ability to improvise on the fly. Additionally, theOBR has been told offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan likes Manziel's skill-set, while being told the young quarterback is very coachable and willing to learn.

- The Browns have talked to numerous teams about moving up in the draft as well as trading back. At the present, theOBR has been told there has not been a single discussion of depth regarding the draft strategy. Teams are gauging interest in potential moves and expect these discussions to heat-up in the next week or so.

- TheOBR continues to be told linebacker Khalil Mack is high on the Browns draft board. Head coach Mike Pettine envisions Mack being a defensive presence with the ability to play differing roles within the front-seven of the defensive structure and a very strong presence at inside linebacker. For those who ask why the Browns would select another linebacker-type pass rusher, the Browns do not see Mack as simply that type of player, but rather they see him as a 'missile' that will destroy everything in his path.

- The Browns and an offensive lineman with the No. 4 pick in the draft is not the 'waste' of a high pick many using the non-playmaker thought process believe. The Browns have done significant research on tackles Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews, Taylor Lewan and Zack Martin. TheOBR has been told Farmer strongly believes that a team needs to be strong along the line of scrimmage and a stout offensive line makes the game easier for a quarterback, especially a young quarterback. A strong offensive line allows a team to avoid being forced in max-protection, as was the case a season ago with the Browns' offense. Adding to the equation, the Browns have every intention of a serious commitment to the running game.

- TheOBR has been told the Browns spent significant time and effort recently evaluating/comparing the skill-set of cornerbacks Justin Gilbert, Kyle Fuller and Bradley Roby.

- As has been noted by theOBR for months, the Browns continue to have positive thoughts on USC center/guard Marcus Martin.

- Though not discounted by any stretch, theOBR has been told the Browns are leaning away from selecting a wide receiver (Sammy Watkins?) with the fourth selection in the draft. This isn't to say the Browns don't believe Watkins won't be a talent, but the vast quality and depth in this draft is significant and the Browns will be in position to select a wide out of their liking a bit later in the draft. Additionally, there is a growing sentiment two teams are looking to move up in the draft to secure Watkins and wide receiver Mike Evans. The Browns are also believed to have Evans rated highly, possibly above Watkins.

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-- Stay tuned for more to come in the Fast Lane. In the meantime, for more of Lane Adkins' takes, insights and scoops visit The Fast Lane forum.


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