Although Browns CEO Joe Banner has repeatedly insisted he doesn’t expect the organization to draft a quarterback in the first round, he won’t rule out spending a pick on the position.
The Browns, after all, are evaluating all the top quarterbacks in the draft, including Florida State University’s EJ Manuel. The 6-foot-5, 237-pound Manuel is scheduled to conduct a private workout for the Browns on April 5 in Tallahassee, Fla., a league source confirmed Thursday for the Beacon Journal. The source spoke on condition of anonymity because the Browns have not publicized the workout.
The Browns view Brandon Weeden as their starting quarterback, and they signed Jason Campbell on Tuesday to push him. Banner, though, told WKNR (850-AM) that acquiring Campbell won’t preclude the Browns from drafting a quarterback.
“Not that this was done by me individually, but if you look at what I’ve been part of [during my tenure as president of the Philadelphia Eagles], we had Donovan McNabb and picked Kevin Kolb,” Banner said. “Whether it’s the right pick or not, I view quarterbacks as assets.
“If you happen to be lucky enough to end up with two, which is extremely rare, that can’t be a problem. You just have to figure out how to take advantage of it. So we will continue to pick quarterbacks, develop quarterbacks, with the full understanding that we’re never going to be what we want to be until we are really strong at that position.”
Manuel worked out for the Eagles on Thursday and has another workout scheduled for today with the Cincinnati Bengals, the source said. Manuel, who went 25-6 as a starter in college and threw 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions this past season, has previously worked out for the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars.
NFLDraftScout.com projects Manuel as a second-round selection in the draft, which runs April 25-27. The Browns have the sixth overall pick but no second-round choice. However, it’s possible they could get back into the second round in a trade-down scenario.
Perhaps it’s more likely they’ll target a developmental quarterback in the middle rounds. Arizona quarterback Matt Scott is set to visit the Browns the second week of April. NFLDraftScout.com projects Scott as a fourth- or fifth-round pick. Like Manuel, Scott has the mobility needed to run the read-option scheme Browns coach Rob Chudzinski employed the past two seasons as offensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers.
The Browns also will conduct a private workout with West Virginia’s Geno Smith, the top-rated quarterback in this year’s class. But most draft analysts are convinced Smith won’t be available when the Browns are put on the clock at No. 6.
The Browns will host North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper for a pre-draft visit, another source confirmed. The 6-2, 311-pound Cooper is widely projected to be picked in the first half of the opening round.
South Carolina safety D.J. Swearinger is also set to visit the Browns, the Plain Dealer reported. NFLDraftScout.com projects the 5-10, 208-pound Swearinger as a fourth- or fifth-round selection.
The Browns signed punter Jake Schum, the team announced.
Schum spent two seasons at the University at Buffalo (2010-11), where he had 119 career punts for an average of 38.7 yards. Schum, 24, did not play professionally last season.
Former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Victor Butler signed a two-year deal with the New Orleans Saints. The Browns hosted Butler early this week and remained interested in him. … The Browns’ offseason conditioning program begins Monday. Organized team activities run May 14-16, 21-23 and 28-31. Voluntary minicamp runs April 16-18. Mandatory minicamp runs June 4-6. … The Kansas City Chiefs named former Browns offensive coordinator Brad Childress an offensive assistant. His title is “spread game analyst/special projects.”
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com.