The Browns continued to display an unconventional predraft approach toward quarterbacks Wednesday.
Most quarterback-needy teams interview quarterbacks at the NFL Scouting Combine. The Browns did not conduct any formal interviews with quarterbacks.
Most quarterback-needy teams send their coach and key offensive assistants to the pro-day workouts of the top quarterback prospects. So far, the Browns have not.
New Browns General Manager Ray Farmer attended Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles’ pro day Wednesday. The Browns met with Bortles in the morning and set up a private workout, Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net reported. Browns scout Patrick Moore watched the pro-day workout, and when it was done, he shook hands with Bortles, exchanged a few words and patted him on the back.
But new Browns coach Mike Pettine and his top offensive lieutenants did not attend Bortles’ workout Wednesday or Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s pro-day workout on Monday. Bortles, Bridgewater and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, whose pro day is set for March 27, are the top-three rated quarterbacks in this year’s draft. Fresno State’s Derek Carr, who’s projected to become the fourth quarterback chosen, will have his pro day today.
The Browns are either trying to create the impression that they’re not seriously considering drafting a quarterback fourth overall on May 8 or they’re really not seriously considering it. They’re expected to set up private workouts and visits with the top quarterback prospects, but the lack of combine interviews and a coaching presence at pro days is still unusual for a team whose coach, Pettine, called quarterback an “obvious” priority last month.
ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio reported that 27 teams attended Bortles’ pro day with the Houston Texans (No. 1 overall pick), Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 3 overall), Browns (No. 4), Oakland Raiders (No. 5) and Minnesota Vikings (No. 8) meeting with Bortles before his workout. USA Today’s Tom Pelissero reported that four of the teams with a top-eight pick had their coaches and general managers in attendance: Texans, Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (No. 7) and Vikings.
Bortles completed 41-of-50 passes, according to Pelissero. A couple of his passes were dropped and several were overthrown deep.
Still, Bortles impressed for the most part and could become the No. 1 overall pick.
“I thought it was really solid from every perspective,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said of Bortles’ workout. … “I think the word for this kid is ‘potential.’ He’s young. He’s got a lot of work to do — I can see that on tape — but what I saw out there is he’s potentially a franchise quarterback.”
By comparison, Mayock described Bridgewater’s workout as “average at best.”
Staying in Ohio
Former Browns quarterback Jason Campbell struck an agreement on a one-year contract with the Cincinnati Bengals, ESPN reported Wednesday. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The Browns cut Campbell and fellow quarterback Brandon Weeden on March 12. Campbell, 32, went 1-7 as a starter last season.
Critic sounds off
ESPN analyst Merril Hoge does not believe it would be wise to draft Manziel early.
“His skill set does not transition to the National Football League, and it is a big, big risk,” Hoge, a former NFL fullback, said Wednesday on SportsCenter. “In fact, I see bust written all over him, especially if he’s drafted in the first round.”
Why is Hoge so down on Manziel?
“He has absolutely no instinct or feel for pocket awareness,” Hoge said. “He has an instinct to run. That’s a bad instinct if you’re going to have that in the National Football League. You have to play in the pocket with traffic around you and throw it. When traffic comes around him, he runs, and that is dangerous in the National Football League.”
Potential draft target
The Browns conducted a workout with Clemson offensive lineman Brandon Thomas, Pauline reported Wednesday.
The 6-foot-3, 317-pound Thomas became Clemson’s starting left tackle as a junior in 2012, but he played guard and tackle earlier in his career. NFLDraftScout.com projects him as a guard in the NFL and a second- or third-round pick.
The Browns are in the market for a starting guard.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.