The Browns have closely examined Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles, a player who coach Mike Pettine likens to a work of art.
“He has all the measurables,” Pettine said last week at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando. “If you look at him, if you said, ‘Draw me an NFL quarterback,’ that’s probably who you’d draw. I think the thing that’s impressive about him is his ability in crunch time, in a lot of tight games, a lot of come-from-behind wins. You can see he’s confident, can make all the throws. I think he’s a better athlete than some people give him credit for.”
The Browns conducted a private workout with Bortles on Wednesday, a league source confirmed. The source spoke on condition of anonymity because the Browns are not revealing their itinerary for private workouts leading up to the draft, which will run May 8-10.
Many draft analysts consider Bortles the top-rated quarterback and believe the Houston Texans could pick him No. 1 overall.
The Browns, of course, are also in the market for a quarterback. They’ll likely nab one with one of two first-round picks (Nos. 4 and 26 overall) or with their choice early in the second round (No. 35 overall).
Last week, Pettine said the team would conduct private workouts with “a big list” of quarterbacks that includes the three top-rated players at the position — Bortles, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel and Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater. Pettine also said the organization would host several quarterbacks on pre-draft visits to Berea.
The Browns launched their tour of private workouts with quarterbacks by putting Fresno State’s Derek Carr through the paces Monday in California.
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported the Browns also are scheduled to work out the following quarterbacks this week: Bridgewater, Eastern Illinois’ Jimmy Garoppolo, Pitt’s Tom Savage and Ball State’s Keith Wenning.
Wenning’s workout will be conducted in front of Pettine and General Manager Ray Farmer on Saturday, NFL.com analyst Gil Brandt reported.
Mortensen also reported the Browns will work out Manziel in two to three weeks.
The Browns’ private workout with Bortles explains why Pettine and Farmer were not spotted Wednesday at the pro day of South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
A Browns spokesman said the team was represented at Clowney’s workout, but he declined to disclose who was in attendance.
The 6-foot-5, 266-pound Clowney is widely projected to become a top-five pick.
Clowney did not run the 40-yard dash Wednesday after posting an official time of 4.53 seconds during the NFL Scouting Combine in February. However, he impressed while going through a series of position drills.
“I fully believe that Clowney is the most talented player in this draft and last draft and next year’s draft,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said. “I mean he’s got special, special talent.”
The Browns are intrigued.
Last week, Pettine called Clowney a “freakish athlete.” He would project as an outside linebacker in Pettine’s 3-4, hybrid defense.
Clowney could become one of the top two picks next month, though questions about his desire and work ethic could cause him to slide a bit. The amount of sacks (13) and tackles for loss (23½) he compiled as a sophomore in 2012 dropped drastically — three sacks and 11½ tackles for loss — as a junior in 2013.
“I think if you’re strong and assertive as a coach, that you can get that guy to be more focused and get him to be much more consistent,” Pettine said. “So if you can take a Clowney and get him to play, to get him to get that motor humming and go hard every play, then you’ve got a guy that can absolutely dominate a game.
“I think he could change a game. He’s proven that. I had good interaction with him [at the combine] in Indianapolis. As a defensive head coach, I don’t know if I’d be all that upset to turn the card in on Clowney with the fourth pick.”
The Washington Redskins and former Philadelphia Eagles three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson agreed to terms on a three-year contract late Tuesday night.
The deal is reportedly worth $24 million and includes $16 million guaranteed.
The Browns think Jackson is a good player and did homework on him, but they didn’t appear to be serious suitors despite reports to the contrary.
NBC Washington sports anchor Dianna Russini reported Tuesday afternoon that the Browns were “going hard” after Jackson “with [an] offer.” ESPN.com’s John Keim reported Tuesday night that the Browns had “serious interest” in Jackson.
The Browns’ reported pursuit of Jackson, 27, might have been leaked in an attempt to apply pressure to the Redskins. Regardless, it’s certain he won’t be coming to Cleveland.
As many as nine teams, including the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders and Buffalo Bills, reportedly expressed interest in Jackson after the Eagles cut him Friday amid questions about his off-field behavior and alleged connections to Los Angeles street gangs.
But Jackson visited only one team — the Redskins.
Recipient of interest
Former Raiders wide receiver Jacoby Ford told New York reporters during a conference call Wednesday that the Browns had been in contact with him before he chose to sign with the Jets on Tuesday.
Ford, 26, had 13 catches for 99 yards last season.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/browns.abj.