Cleveland Browns 2014 Draft Preview

 

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(SportsNetwork.com) - The Cleveland Browns unveiled their latest reboot in the offseason, restructuring their lightly regarded front office yet again by dropping two of the "three stooges" in CEO Joe Banner as well as general manager Mike Lombardi.

Ray Farmer, a former draft pick on Banner's watch in Philadelphia, has taken over the team's football operations in place of Lombardi. Meanwhile, off-the- radar candidate Mike Pettine, the ex- Buffalo defensive coordinator, was given the head coaching job only after others spurned the Browns and the culture Banner created by his firing of Rob Chudzinski, a Plan B choice himself after Chip Kelly chose Philadelphia over Cleveland last offseason.

A quick look at the Browns' current depth chart revels one gaping hole: the quarterback position. Journeyman Brian Hoyer and the nondescript Alex Tanney were the only players under contract until notable bust Vince Young and Tyler Thigpen were each recently inked after mini-camp tryouts.

None of those players is the answer, however, and Texas A&M signal caller Johnny Manziel, the most polarizing figure in this draft, could be in play at No. 4 overall.

Some scouts believe Manziel will turn into a superstar and others think he belongs nowhere near the first round. He flashed a better arm than advertised at his pro day, embraced the big stage and has already improved on what were some shoddy mechanics at times.

With two first-round picks Farmer could take his QB at No. 4 and then a complement to Josh Gordon at wide receiver with the 26th overall selection. Conversely he could flip things and snare Clemson wideout Sammy Watkins, certainly a higher-rated prospect than Manziel or Central Florida's Blake Bortles, early and address QB later.

"It's a players' league," Pettine said when talking about the draft. "When you look at it, coaches can only affect it so much. I think that it's critical for us. For the personnel department, (the draft is) their Super Bowl. It's absolutely critical that we have a solid draft."

Signal callers that could be available with the 26th pick include Fresno State's Derek Carr and Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater. Even LSU's Zach Mettenberger and Pitt's Tom Savage could sneak into the conversation.

"We talk about the 'it' factor a lot with quarterbacks, just that type of personality, those traits that you want to have in your quarterback," Pettine said. "(You want) a guy that is confident, assertive and poised, that can handle teammates when they need to be handled at things going on in the offensive huddle."

2013 Record: 4-12

Top Needs: QB, OL, RB, WR

First Three Picks: No. 4, No. 26, No. 35

Number of Selections: 10 (1, 1, 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5, 6, 7)

CALLING THE SHOTS: A linebacker by trade, Farmer started his NFL front office career as a scout in Atlanta before moving on to become the director of pro personnel in Kansas City. The Duke University product was named assistant GM in Cleveland a season ago and interviewed for the Miami GM job earlier this offseason before being elevated by Cleveland owner Jimmy Haslam.

RECENT FIRST ROUND HISTORY: 2013 - Barkevious Mingo (DE/OLB, LSU); 2012 - Trent Richardson (RB, Alabama), Brandon Weeden (QB, Oklahoma State); 2011 - Phil Taylor (DT, Baylor); 2010 - Joe Haden (CB, Florida); 2009 - Alex Mack (C, California); 2008 - none; 2007 - Joe Thomas (OT, Wisconsin), Brady Quinn (QB, Notre Dame); 2006 - Kamerion Wimbley (LB, Florida State); 2005 - Braylon Edwards (WR, Michigan); 2004 - Kellen Winslow (TE, Miami-Florida); 2003 - Jeff Faine (C, Notre Dame).

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