New Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine would seem to be in the market for a quarterback, and he provided a quick rundown on each of the top four quarterback prospects Tuesday morning at the NFL Annual Meeting.
Pettine called Fresno State's Derek Carr the "best natural thrower in draft," said Texas A&Ms Johnny Manziel is "a gifted playmaker," called Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater "extremely accurate, cerebral" and "NFL-ready" and said of UCF's Blake Bortles, "If you said, 'Draw me an NFL quarterback,' that's probably who you'd draw."
Pettine also said the Browns could draft more than one quarterback and that he wouldn't have a problem starting a rookie at the position.
Pettine has bypassed the pro days of Bortles, Bridgewater and Carr, and said he will not attend Manziel's on Thursday. But Pettine, who has a background on defense, also said he will attend the private workouts of the top quarterbacks. New Browns GM Ray Farmer -- who attended Bortles' and Bridgewater's pro days -- won't be at Manziel's pro day, either.
Cleveland is the only quarterback-needy team with two first-round picks (well, for now, anyway), with selections at No. 4 and No. 26. It seems doubtful that Bortles, Bridgewater or Manziel would be available at No. 26 -- although not totally out of the realm of possibility -- but Carr could be. He led the nation in passing yards (5,083) and TD passes (50); he became just the fifth quarterback in FBS history with 50 TD passes. He has gained a lot of momentum as a potential first-rounder in the past two months, and Oakland is said to be extremely interested in him. The Raiders pick fifth, which seems too high to take Carr. There's always the potential to trade down, though.
Given Cleveland's holes, taking someone other than a quarterback at No. 4 makes some sense. The Browns also have a plethora of picks that could be packaged to move up from No. 26, if they feel the need, to grab a quarterback.
The quarterback class is considered deep, so finding two in this draft shouldn't be hard; there should be intriguing prospects in every round. In that scenario, though, the only veteran quarterback on the roster could be Brian Hoyer -- he of the 18 games of NFL experience. Monday, Pettine said he would be "comfortable" with Hoyer as his starter, but no way do the Browns take two quarterbacks in this draft if they truly are comfortable with Hoyer at quarterback.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.