Here's a brief look at the possible quarterback targets that aren't named Manziel, Bortles, Bridgewater or Carr. And we begin this post with perhaps the draft's fastest rising prospect, Pittsburgh quarterback Tom Savage.
Tom Savage, Pittsburgh, Senior
Height/Weight: 6-foot-4, 228 pounds
2013 stats: 238-for-369 passing (61.2 percent), 2,958 yards, 21 touchdowns, nine interceptions.
Current overall prospect ranks: NFLDraftScout.com: 31st; ESPN.com: 58th
Overview: Savage was an unknown commodity until this year due to a well-traveled past. He started for Rutgers as a freshman in 2009 and then after sitting most of the 2010 season, transferred to Arizona and sat out a year due to NCAA transfer rules. He then transferred to Pittsburgh and sat out a second transfer season in 2012 before getting his shot in 2013. He made the most of it, highlighted by a 424-yard game against Duke. In the last few weeks he’s skyrocketed up draft boards due to his big arm, from a third-day pick to someone who could possibly hear his name called in the first round.
What they’re saying: Big with a big arm … Cannon for an arm … Can make all the throws from the pocket … Fluid throwing motion … Has strength to shrug off defenders … Can overpower short throws that require more touch … Passes tend to hang in the air when throwing on the run … Tends to stare down receivers, which worked in college due to his arm strength … Can make pro-style reads … Ball explodes off hands with plenty of RPMs … Can stretch the field vertically, but deep-ball accuracy is the biggest concern.
How he fits into the Browns’ plans: Savage is a guy who has as much potential as any prospect (namely the next person in this post) to be selected in Thursday’s first round or Saturday’s fourth round. Should the Browns take a chance on him, it’d likely be in the second or third rounds, but could potentially be at No. 26 overall. If they select him, they’re banking on his pure arm strength and the fact that even though he’s a well-traveled senior, his on-the-field experience is limited.
A.J. McCarron, Alabama, senior
Height/weight: 6-foor-3, 220 pounds
2013 stats: 226-for-336 (67.3 percent), 3,063 yards, 28 touchdowns, seven interceptions
Current overall prospect ranks: NFLDraftScout.com: 123rd; ESPN.com: 70th
Overview: McCarron is the quarterback everybody knows who has seen his stock drop a bit throughout the draft process. He’s still a named kicked around for the last-first or early-second round, but is projected by most a third-fourth-round prospect. At Alabama, he won back-to-back national titles, won more than 90 percent of his starts and won the Maxwell and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm awards. He was also the Heisman runner-up this past season.
What they’re saying: Won’t make mistakes but is underwhelming … Proper mechanics … Makes smart, sharp decisions … Shows good footwork in the pocket, keeps eyes downfield when rushed … Has enough footspeed to buy time … Lacks elite arm with average velocity … Deep ball tends to float … Can get himself in trouble throwing off back foot … Has ideal experience in a pro-style system …. Is a natural leader … Good touch and tempo on short-to-intermediate throws … Doesn’t always step into targets … Has a quick, snap delivery but really has to wind up when throwing the ball vertically.
How he fits into the Browns’ plans: Should the Browns draft him, it’s likely with one of the two third-round picks. He has a high floor, which is good, but a low ceiling compared to the other quarterbacks in the draft. McCarron is as talented as a leader as any, but all of his concerns rest with his arm. If the Browns take him, they’re likely banking on what’s between the ears.
Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois, senior
Height/weight: 6-foot-2, 226 pounds
2013 stats: 375-of-568 passing (66 percent), 5,050 yards, 53 touchdowns, nine interceptions
Current overall prospect ranks: NFLDraftScout.com: 77th; ESPN.com: 64th
Overview: Garoppolo is one of the most intriguing prospects in the draft, coming from the FCS and Eastern Illinois. Though being able to break all of Tony Romo’s school records surely helps with name recognition. He threw for more than 13,000 yards in his career and last season had 11 300-yard games.
What they’re saying: Snap release, average-to-above-average arm strength … Excellent passing vision, quick eyes to scan the field … Smart, executes the offense well … High football IQ … Good pocket mobility, stays focused downfield … Very good touch and placement to all levels … Lack of elite velocity … Bad habit of forcing balls into small windows … Lower-than-ideal release point … Must improve his awareness of pressure as it’s coming … Holds the ball too long at times … Needs to be more acclimated to a pro-style, under-center offense.
How he fits into the Browns’ plans: The selection of Garoppolo is most likely a good (or better) sign for Brian Hoyer, as are the final two quarterbacks in this posting. Garoppolo has a lot of strengths but a vast experience in a pro-style offense that operates under center isn’t one of them. Plus, coming from the FCS probably warrants some time on the sidelines watching and becoming acclimated to the NFL game. He's likely to be selected at some point during the Draft's second day (rounds 2-3).
Zach Mettenberger, Louisiana State, senior
Height/weight: 6-foot-5, 224 pounds
2013 stats: 192-of-296 passing (64.9 percent), 3,082 yards, 22 touchdowns, eight interceptions
Current overall prospect ranks: NFLDraftScout.com: 100th; ESPN.com: 125th
Overview: Mettenberger will have to answer questions about his past as much as his performance. He first enrolled at Georgia but was arrested in March 2010 and then reportedly lied about the incident, leading to his dismissal from the program. He then went to a community college in Kansas before coming to LSU, where he became the starter for the past two seasons. Then, in December, he tore his ACL, bringing in more pressing questions about his NFL readiness. Reportedly, his rehab is going well.
What they’re saying: Strong arm, strong frame … Rocket arm, throws frozen ropes … Stands tall in pocket … Keeps eyes downfield under pressure and can deliver … Has shown improved patience to take check-downs … Good anticipation, chemistry with receivers … Came through in big situations in 2013 in which he faltered in 2012 … Gutsy competitor, coachable … Has some mobility but is slow-footed … Needs to show better awareness of blitz … Can stare down reads … Can tend to fire balls that need touch … Quiet demeanor, needs to develop more vocal leadership qualities … Durability concerns after tearing his left ACL … Has shown he can grow as a person over last two years but still has character concerns.
How he fits into the Browns’ plans: If the Browns are drafting Mettenberger, it’s likely as a flier on a guy who owns a big arm but a lot of question marks, both with his character and his knee. Mettenberger tore his ACL in December, meaning he might be ready for the start of the 2013 season. But considering his rookie status and injury concerns, he’s as likely as anyone to sit out for most or all of the 2014 season to take things in and learn the pro game.
Aaron Murray, Georgia, senior
Height/weight: 6-foot-1, 207 pounds
2013 stats: 225-of-347 passing (64.8 percent), 3,075 yards, 26 touchdowns, nine interceptions
Current overall prospect ranks: NFLDraftScout.com: 139th; ESPN.com: 121st
Overview: Here’s another SEC quarterback who tore his ACL this past season. Murray, though, still has a long track record after starting at Georgia for four seasons. He completed 62 percent of his passes and threw for more then 13,000 yards in a pro-style offense.
What they’re saying: Quick delivery … can delivery passes from multiple arm slots ;;; throws deep balls with velocity and good trajectory … Can attack the seam with touch … Experience in pro-style offense … Lacks preferred size … Has had too many passes knocked down at the line of scrimmage … Durability is a concern … Also some concerns about how he responds to big moments, though he was better in 2013 than in previous years.
How he fits into the Browns’ plans: This is another example of, likely, a long-term project, should the Browns select Murray. He has experience and quite a bit of success playing in the SEC, but lacks the size and arm strength normally required of an NFL quarterback. Still, his numbers showed he can get creative, if teams are willing to show some confidence in his knee. Mettenberger and Murray, due to these injuries and that they’re projected to go later in the draft, are the most likely candidates to be taken even if the Browns selected another quarterback in the first round.