NFL Media's Charley Casserly spent Tuesday embedded at Browns camp, where he emerged with a surprising prediction for the NFL's sexiest quarterback battle.
Sharing his practice notes with Around The League, Casserly -- the former Redskins general manager -- believes that Cleveland's "quarterback of the future is tied to its two No. 1 draft choices for next year," writing: "I don't think Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel will be the answer."
Casserly ranked Hoyer's play ahead of Manziel and believes the veteran "should stay there for the preseason" as "the difference in practice is not overwhelming."
If Casserly was in Mike Pettine's shoes, he'd start Hoyer in Week 1 and ride him until it doesn't work. Either way, look for the Browns to rely on what Casserly called a "playoff-caliber" defense beside a run-heavy offense that leans generously on Ben Tate and rookie Terrance West, who Casserly likes a lot.
Other notes from Casserly's visit to Browns camp:
» Casserly believes Kyle Shanahan's offense will adapt to the gifts of its starting passer. A Hoyer-led attack is primed to emphasize the zone run game and play action passing, while Manziel would see plenty of zone read and option calls, just as Robert Griffin III did with the 'Skins.
» Despite all the off-field white noise, Manziel was described to Casserly by multiple team sources as bringing a "first-in, last-out mentality" and showing up to camp with a better knowledge of the offense. Verbiage is the biggest challenge for Manziel, but Casserly was told the rookie is "doing fine" with that aspect of the playbook.
» Casserly likes Manziel's quick release and arm strength, but sees "no outstanding physical traits" in Hoyer. He does see in the veteran a passer who knows where to go with ball. Hoyer's accuracy dipped on downfield throws, but he's a smart quarterback who Casserly believes will ultimately start under center on opening day.
» On defense, rookie cornerback Justin Gilbert is still learning his way, but the former Oklahoma State defender has too much talent to ride the bench. Cleveland's first-round pick is making more plays around the ball more than Buster Skrine.