This is the 15th in a 20-part series examining some possibilities for the Browns in the 2013 NFL Draft, including extensive looks at the most likely prospects for the No. 6 overall selection, potential targets later in the draft, trade-down scenarios, what the other teams in the AFC North might do and the top players coming out of Ohio State and the Mid-American Conference.
Each morning will bring a new, daily posting leading up the NFL Scouting Combine on Feb 20.
Today we look at the possibility of the Browns choosing to take a quarterback with the No. 6 overall pick, and which signal callers are contenders to be taken that high.
For better or for worse, the Browns brass taking a quarterback with the No. 6 overall pick would certainly create the biggest splash. The Browns spent the No. 22 pick in last year's draft (which was a part of the Julio Jones deal to the Atlanta Falcons) on Brandon Weeden and handed him the keys to the starting role over Colt McCoy. Taking another quarterback -- this time a top-10 pick under a new regime -- signals a serious change.
It's certainly a long shot, considering Weeden's first-round selection and the lack of elite quarterabcks in this year's draft class. But nothing is impossible, and in the (sort of) spirit of Valentine's Day: All is fair in love and the NFL Draft.
There's also at least a few things that warrant some discussion of this possibility. Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said that Weeden would have competition, and vice president of player personnel Mike Lombardi, while working for the NFL Network, hasn't always had the most positive things to say of Weeden or how high he went in the draft. Likewise, rumors of New England Patriots quarterback Ryan Mallett coming to Cleveland to compete with Weeden for the job have swirled this offseason.
There's been one name at the top of many mock drafts: West Virginia's Geno Smith. The Kansas City Chiefs are in the middle of a regime change and could take what most consider to be the best quarterback in the draft with the No. 1 pick. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has said there isn't a quarterback that should be considered for the No. 1 pick this year, and he doesn't think any quarterbacks will go in the top 10. He also said that if Weeden were in this draft class, he might be the first quarterback selected.
Going off of pure draft grades, there probably isn't a quarterback worth the No. 6 pick. But as is the trend lately, quarterbacks could jump ahead of higher-graded players and into the top 10. Christian Ponder to the Minnesota Vikings, Blaine Gabbert to the Jacksonville Jaguars, Jake Locker to the Tennessee Titans and Ryan Tannehill to the Miami Dolphins are all recent examples.
Smith could go still go No. 1 if new Chiefs coach Andy Reid chooses to select his franchise quarterback. Jacksonville and Oakland, picking Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, could also opt for a quarterback, though most analysts think each team addresses their defensive situations. With the No. 4 pick, the Philadelphia Eagles just restructured Michael Vick's contract, so it appears they'll stick with him. Smith could be available at No. 6.
University of Southern California's Matt Barkley and North Carolina State's Mike Glennon could also be options. This year, three quarterbacks could go in the top eight picks. Or none could go in the first round entirely.
Here's a breakdown of all three:
Geno Smith, West Virginia, 6-foot-3, 220 pounds
Overview: Through the first month and a half of the 2012 season, it looked like Smith was an absolute lock for the No. 1 overall pick. Through the first five games, he completed 81 percent of his passes, had 24 touchdowns and no interceptions. For a good while, he had more touchdowns than total incompletions. Smith eventually cooled off but still completed 71 percent of his passes with 42 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also got better in each of his three starting seasons, improving his completion percentage and touchdown-interception ratio each while showing the ability to run when the opportunity presented itself.
Current projected draft position: Both Dane Brugler and Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com have Smith going No. 1 to the Chiefs. ESPN's Todd McShay has the Buffalo Bills taking Smith at No. 8. Kiper, meanwhile, doesn't have a quarterback going in the first round at all.
What they're saying: Smith is a gifted athlete with above-average mobility and foot quickness. ... Shows ability to escape pressure and extend plays. ... Clearly a pocket passer first, though, and shows good instincts and poise in the pocket. ... Displays a compact 3/4 release. ... Shows ability to change release point without losing velocity or accuracy. ... Drives the ball downfield, gets plenty of zip on deep throws. ... Displays adequate accuracy but could improve in this area. ... Mechanics and footwork are solid. ... Can make an accurate throw off balance and/or on the run. ... Could continue to develop touch. ... Plays in shotgun system and might need time to adjust to making pro-style reads. ... Flashes ability to anticipate breaks before they happen and release the ball at the right time. ... Can become overconfident and try to force throws into tight windows.
Matt Barkley, Southern California, 6-foot-2, 230 pounds
Overview: Barkley could have been a top-10 or even top-five pick in last year's draft but shocked many in going back to USC for his senior year. Leading up to the 2012 season, Barkley was thought to be a lock for the No. 1 pick (just like Smith was after the first two months of the season). He quickly fell off that pedestal. Barkley had a very poor start and finished the season with 3,273 yards, 36 touchdowns, 15 interceptions while completing 63 percent of his passes.
Current projected draft position: Brugler and Rang both have Barkley in the top eight, and have him going to the Bills at No. 8 and the Arizona Cardinals at No. 7, respectively. McShay and Kiper, meanwhile, don't see him going in the first round.
What they're saying: Playing in a pro-style offense at USC, Barkley shows a high football IQ. ... Possesses great awareness and understanding of game situations. ... Sees the entire field. ... Can get to second and third progressions. ... Overall accuracy is good. ... Shows excellent touch and placement. ... Shows ability to deliver an accurate pass when feet are not set and/or off balance. ... Has a quick, over-the-top to 3/4 release and can change the release point if need be. ... Arm strength is adequate. ... Doesn't have strength of Ben Roethlisberger or Joe Flacco, but does show ability to make all the NFL throws with good velocity. ... Has limitations athletically, but makes up for it with pocket savvy. ... Keeps eyes downfield while going through progressions very well.
Mike Glennon, North Carolina State, 6-foot-7, 230 pounds
Overview: Glennon took over the starting role at North Carolina State after Russell Wilson transferred to Wisconsin in the summer of 2011 and answered with a 3,000-plus yard, 30-plus touchdown season. Last year, he threw for 4,031 yards and 31 touchdowns, showing as much arm strength as any in the nation. Each year, a quarterback tends to impress on film after flying under the radar and rises up draft boards. That might be Glennon this year.
Current projected draft status: Glennon is being talked about as an option for the Cardinals and Bills in the top 10. At one point, several analysts had him in those spots but at the moment, only Brugler has him in the first round (Cardinals, No. 7).
What they're saying: Glennon has just below elite arm strength. ... Has an over-the-top to 3/4 release. ... Shows ability to stretch the field vertically. ... Has experience conducting a pro-style system. ... Shows ability to get a thorough pre-snap read and get to second and third progressions. ... Has a lot of room for improvement as a decision maker. ... Does not read underneath coverage consistently and needs to speed up internal clock. ... Holds the ball for too long at times. ... Needs to show more poise in the pocket and can get rattled. ... Shows the ability to be accurate to all three levels when he has a clean pocket. ... Shows good touch and can change ball speed and projection. ... Flashes ability to fit the ball through tight windows downfield. ... Pressure can rattle him. ... Throws a very catchable deep ball.