Who Are the Experts Predicting the Cleveland Browns Will Select in the Draft?

Will BurgeContributor IApril 8, 2014

Who Are the Experts Predicting the Cleveland Browns Will Select in the Draft?

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    Patric Schneider

    The Cleveland Browns are once again the biggest wild card in the NFL draft. If you need some proof, then look no further then the expert’s mock drafts. There is a case to be made for the Browns selecting any one of six different players with the fourth overall pick.

    The reason there is so much disagreement is because the Browns have so many pressing needs. Among them, and most glaringly, is the quarterback position. Depending on who you ask, there are varying degrees of satisfaction with this class of signal-callers.

    If the Browns want a quarterback at No. 4, then one will be there for them to select. If they want another offensive playmaker, then Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins could be available.

    Perhaps they want to strengthen their offensive line or linebacking units. Both offensive tackle Jake Matthews and linebacker Khalil Mack could do the trick.

    With general manager Ray Farmer protecting his information like it’s the nuclear launch codes, we are all left to our own guesses, including the experts.

    Here are five of the most respected names in mock drafting and the players they have the Browns selecting in the first round.

Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M and Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

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    Patric Schneider

    ESPN’s Mel Kiper, via Chris Pokorny of SB Nation's Dawgs By Nature

    Here's where I take the plunge at quarterback.

    For one, while Manziel is a boom-or-bust proposition, he's exactly the type of QB who doesn't give a, um, darn about the bad QB history in Cleveland. In fact, it will just push him.

    Secondly, I have a bunch of picks in this draft, and I know the entire draft isn't defined by what I do at No. 4.

    Three, I actually think a guy like Brian Hoyer can start early and win football games. Lastly, my team is going to pass block pretty well, and I have some major weapons on Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron -- the kind of guys who make a QB look good.

    I get the corner I need in Verrett because I think, unlike most corners, he's pretty capable of helping me right away. Then I get the best guard in the draft with Jackson, solidifying depth on the interior of the line.

    Reynolds is the range safety I need to pair with Donte Whitner, and Thomas gives me a return element and a low-touches but valuable decoy element in the offense.

    If the Browns select Johnny Manziel with the fourth overall pick, it is the ultimate boom-or-bust scenario. He was a big-time playmaker in college with a knack for extending plays outside the pocket.

    The very same thing that made him special in college could end up hurting him in the NFL, however. Teams fear that his tendency to tuck the ball and run could have him injured more often than not.

    Manziel was able to show improved mechanics in his pro day, but, unfortunately, it also displayed the circus that will come to town with him. Besides actual football, there was also loud music, former presidents, dogs and camouflage shorts. This is the world of Johnny Manziel.

Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M and Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

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    Dane Brugler, NFLDraftScout.com, via CBSSports.com

    The Browns will give Brian Hoyer a shot, but is he the long-term option? No, Ray Farmer and his staff weren't at Manziel's pro day, but if you think that means they're not interested, you'd be wrong.

    As the Browns begin talks to lock up Joe Haden long-term, they'll also be looking to draft a worthy counterpart for the No. 2 cornerback spot in Cleveland. Fuller has the instincts and natural athleticism to be an impact performer on the inside or outside.

    There seems to be a growing sentiment that the Browns will look to find a cornerback to play opposite Joe Haden with their 26th pick. Both Kiper and now Brugler have them selecting a corner.

    If the Browns add a quarterback with the fourth overall pick, then this is a scenario that could certainly play out. If they choose to go another route at No. 4, then it seems much less likely they would pick a corner at No. 26 unless they absolutely love him.

    Fuller had 32 deflections and 10 interceptions in his time at Virginia Tech, displaying his keen nose for the ball. He and Haden would make a formidable tandem for opposing cornerbacks to face.

Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M and Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

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    Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com

    Matthews has played both right and left tackle in college. He would line up at right tackle for the Browns and give them one of the top tackle tandems in the NFL.

    I still view Bridgewater as the top quarterback in this draft class, but he has failed to generate excitement among the personnel executives I've talked to. If he falls past the Titans at pick No. 11, I think it's realistic he could slide all the way down to this spot.

    This is one of the more interesting scenarios I have seen an expert project. If the Browns select Matthews with the fourth overall pick, it is a safe play. He will likely be a Pro Bowl tackle for years to come.

    They could never select him on the basis that they think Bridgewater would fall all the way to No. 26, however. At that point in the first round, the value for Bridgewater is ridiculous. You would have to think someone would trade up to snag him.

    If by chance this ended up happening, it would be the ultimate home run scenario. They would get perhaps the best offensive lineman in the draft and the guy whom everyone thought was the best quarterback for well over a year. Plus, Bridgewater would not have to deal with the pressure of being a top-five pick and being expected to start immediately.

Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson and Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State

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    Butch Dill

    Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com

    "Speed, speed and more speed. Josh Gordon and Watkins? Wow."

    "They pass on a quarterback with the fourth pick and end up taking Carr here."

    This seems to be the most popular scenario that I have seen experts projecting. Carr, who was once thought to be a top-five pick, has slipped to a late first-round projection, and the Browns might feel his value is perfect for their 26th pick.

    They would also add Watkins who would be a very dangerous complement to Josh Gordon in their receiving corps. Carr would compete with Hoyer for the starting job, and whoever ended up winning out during camp would have a plethora of weapons to attack opposing defenses.

    My hesitation about Carr is that he is very similar to Brandon Weeden. He has a big arm and can make all the throws, but he has a tendency to throw off his back foot, and he panics under pressure. The Browns just lived through that for two years with Weeden.

Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson and Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State

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    Rainier Ehrhardt

    Matt Miller of Bleacher Report

    If the Cleveland Browns are serious about building an elite offense, they need to make Sammy Watkins their pick at No. 4 overall—not Manziel or Bortles.

    Paired with Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon, Watkins would give the Browns a set of offensive skill players that they've lacked in the past. And as recent examples in San Francisco and Seattle have shown, if you don't love the quarterbacks available at your pick, it's much wiser to build a solid team first and then add a lower-risk quarterback later.

    The Browns can do that with pick No. 26 and invest their top pick in the explosive, dynamic playmaker in Watkins.

    With the No. 4 overall pick, the Cleveland Browns added a dynamic playmaker in Sammy Watkins. Now, they'll use the pick they received in exchange for Trent Richardson last season in order to find a quarterback of the future.

    Everyone you talk to in Cleveland will tell you the team likes Brian Hoyer at quarterback—at least as a short-term option. What the team needs is someone to challenge Hoyer and be there if he's not the answer. Derek Carr at No. 26 overall is the perfect value.

    Carr has a big arm and prototypical quarterback tools and is an underrated athlete. Like a mild-mannered Jay Cutler, he can put the ball anywhere on the field and has the accuracy to open up the offense for Watkins, Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron.