ESPN NFL Draft analyst Todd McShay didn’t think very highly of Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden heading into last year’s draft, and McShay isn’t wild about any quarterbacks in this year’s class, either.
“I had Andrew Luck as the first quarterback, just in my rankings, [Robert] Griffin III, then [Ryan] Tannehill at three,” McShay said of his 2012 grades during a conference call this afternoon. “Then I had Nick Foles, Russell Wilson, Brock Osweiler and Brandon Weeden. … I wouldn’t have taken Weeden until the third round.”
The Browns, of course, selected Weeden in the first round (22nd overall). The Indianapolis Colts picked Luck first overall, the Washington Redskins took Griffin at No. 2 and the Miami Dolphins chose Tannehill at No. 8. Osweiler (second round, No. 57 overall) went to the Denver Broncos, Wilson (third round, No. 75 overall) to the Seattle Seahawks and Foles (third round, 88th overall) to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Now the Browns' new regime of owner Jimmy Haslam, CEO Joe Banner, coach Rob Chudzinski and vice president of player personnel Mike Lombardi is on a mission this offseason to acquire another quarterback and create competition at the position. Aside from the draft, they could accomplish their goal through free agency or a trade. Alex Smith of the San Francisco 49ers, Chase Daniel of the New Orleans Saints and Brian Hoyer of the Arizona Cardinals are among the quarterbacks who have been linked to the Browns and are expected to be available.
The Browns have the sixth overall pick, but if they share McShay’s view, they won’t spend it on a quarterback. McShay has the Browns picking Louisiana State outside linebacker/defensive end Barkevious Mingo in his most recent mock draft. Mingo's versatility could make him a logical fit for new defensive coordinator Ray Horton's 3-4 multi-front scheme.
McShay said he doesn’t have a first-round grade on West Virginia’s Geno Smith, Southern California’s Matt Barkley or any other quarterbacks in this year’s draft. Still, he believes at least one team will reach for a quarterback in the opening round because of the importance of the position.
“I think when it’s all said and done that one or more [quarterbacks] winds up going in the first round,” McShay said. “There were a lot of people last year who had second-round grades on Tannehill, but still would’ve taken him [earlier] just because of the nature of the position.”
In his mock draft, McShay has the Buffalo Bills taking Smith at No. 8 overall. McShay doesn’t have any other quarterbacks slated for the first round.
“Geno Smith, he probably is the best all-around quarterback in this class, but I hesitate because there are still so many concerns you have when you look at it,” McShay said. “He’s inconsistent with his accuracy, and he does not always process information fast enough. When the answer doesn’t come from his first read and he’s got to check to his second read and then down to his third and go through his progressions, sometimes it doesn’t come as quickly. Now he’s as motivated and determined and as hard working a quarterback as you’ll ever find. It doesn’t have anything to do with that. It’s just sometimes the information doesn’t transfer as quickly as you’d like to see it.”
McShay believes the best quarterback in this year's class would have been, at best, the fourth quarterback taken in 2012.