After their bid fell short in the sweepstakes for Robert Griffin III, the Browns’ decision makers have repeatedly said they’re willing to surround Colt McCoy with offensive weapons from this year’s draft and give him another chance to prove himself as a starting quarterback.
However, the team’s bigwigs have not ruled out the possibility of drafting a quarterback in late April, either.
The Browns have the fourth overall pick, so they could target Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill early in the first round, perhaps even if they decided to trade down a couple of spots. They also have another selection in the first round (No. 22) and one early in the second round (No. 37), so Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden could be in play at those choices.
But Pro Football Weekly draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki is pushing another quarterback to the forefront. Nawrocki believes Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins would be a better fit for the Browns than Tannehill or Weeden.
“[The Browns] decided to use more of a precision-based, West Coast, timing, rhythm, passing game,” Nawrocki said Wednesday during a conference call. “If you look at this year’s draft, the guy that stands out after [presumed No. 1 pick Andrew] Luck, to me, in that category is Kirk Cousins from Michigan State. I think he’s the best fit. He’ll probably sit in there early in the second round. He’d make a lot of sense for the Browns.
“[They would need to] let him develop. To me, on tape, he’s a bit too over analytical. He just thought too much. I’ve got a feeling that whoever they take, [Browns President] Mike Holmgren will spend some time with him, make him his pet project, make sure that talent is developed well. I can see Holmgren playing a part with whomever they bring along. I think he’d have a very easy time working with a player like Kirk Cousins.”
Underrated, ready to start
Nawrocki thinks there will be some prospects available in the middle and late rounds who could fill offensive needs for the Browns and start as rookies.
Among the candidates at offensive right tackle, Nawrocki mentioned California’s Mitchell Schwartz and Brigham Young’s Matt Reynolds.
“Mitchell Schwartz is the one that really stands out,” Nawrocki said. “He’s played left tackle. He’s a proven starter. He’s got some back issues, but I think he’s gonna plug in. He doesn’t have ideal arm length and doesn’t necessarily look the part. His body’s kind of dumpy looking, but he kind of just consistently gets the job done when you put on the tape.”
In terms of overlooked wide receivers who could make an immediate impact in coach Pat Shurmur’s system, Nawrocki identified Joe Adams and Jarius Wright of Arkansas and Chris Owusu of Stanford.
Tracking visits, workouts
The Browns reportedly have pre-draft visits scheduled with the following prospects: Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus, an Akron native and Garfield High School graduate; Louisiana State defensive tackle Michael Brockers; Stanford offensive tackle Jonathan Martin; West Virginia defensive end Bruce Irvin; Virginia Tech running back David Wilson; and Tannehill.
Cincinnati running back Isaiah Pead, Louisiana-Lafayette tight end Ladarius Green and San Diego State punter Brian Stahovich have reportedly had private workouts with the Browns.
No jinx this time
Browns cornerback Joe Haden has been eliminated from the online fan voting that will determine the cover athlete for the “Madden NFL 13” video game.
Haden, who was seeded 16th in the 32-man bracket, fell in his showdown against top-seeded Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who received 79 percent of the vote. The results of the first round were revealed Wednesday.
Last year, former Browns running back Peyton Hillis won the online voting and appeared on the cover of “Madden NFL 12.” Hillis said he believed the dreaded Madden curse contributed to his disappointing 2011 season.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/browns.abj.