ESPN NFL Draft analyst Todd McShay didn’t think highly of Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden heading into last year’s draft, but McShay hasn’t been dazzled by 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 Friday. “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). He started 15 games, threw for 3,385 yards and 14 touchdowns with 17 interceptions and finished with a passer rating of 72.6, fourth-worst in the league.
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 selecting Louisiana State University 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 latest 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.”
McShay believes the best quarterback in this year’s class would have been, at best, the fourth quarterback taken in 2012.
Locals get a shot
Several players with local ties are scheduled to participate in one of the NFL’s regional combines Sunday at the Browns’ training facility in Berea.
Regional combines serve as a supplement to the NFL Scouting Combine, which will run Wednesday through Feb. 26 in Indianapolis. Players who attend a regional combine could earn an invitation to work out in front of NFL scouts and player personnel directors at the Super Regional Combine, which will be April 7-8 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Regional combines are for players who are eligible for the 2013 draft but are not attending the main combine in Indianapolis, players with college experience who were eligible for a prior draft and want to gauge their pro potential and players with some pro playing experience but who have been out of the game for a while.
Some of the prospects with local connections scheduled to participate are cornerback Kenny Pettis (Massillon Washington High School), safety Brandon Allison (Malone University, North High School), linebacker Kyle Arrington (Jackson High School), linebacker Jermaine Moncrief (Massillon), running back Larry Dawson (Kent State University, North), quarterback Dalton Williams (University of Akron), running back Quentin Hines (Akron) and linebacker Beau Bell, who played for the Browns in 2008 after they drafted him in the fourth round.
Minnesota Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman tried to quiet rumblings that standout slot receiver Percy Harvin is on the trading block. “We have no intent of trading Percy Harvin,” former Massillon standout Spielman told Minnesota reporters Friday. “Percy Harvin is under contract and we expect him, just like all of our players under contract, to be here.” NFL.com recently listed Cleveland among the logical landing spots for Harvin. … Based on an Associated Press report out of Philadelphia, Foles isn’t likely to be added to the Browns’ mix of quarterbacks. Despite restructuring Michael Vick’s contract and signing Dennis Dixon, the Eagles aren’t considering trading Foles at all, according to the report.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com.