COMMENTARY | Maybe the Cleveland Browns taking a quarterback with the fourth overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft isn't the wisest move.
The Browns certainly need a QB. There's no denying that. Popular opinion at the start of the new year is that Cleveland will target whichever of the top three players at the position -- Teddy Bridgewater out of Louisville, UCF QB Blake Bortles or Texas A&M phenom Johnny Manziel -- falls down to the four spot in the draft.
It may not be that simple. The Houston Texans control the first overall pick, and what they're going to do with that selection changes per day and per conversation you have with somebody who is in the know. Some have suggested that Houston wants Johnny Football, while others have claimed that Bortles could, when all is said and done, rise all the way up to first overall.
Houston could even decide to move down and stock up on additional picks.
Regardless of what the Texans do, all indications are that a quarterback will immediately go off the board in the upcoming draft. The St. Louis Rams do not, in theory, need a QB, but the team cutting ties with Sam Bradford wouldn't necessarily be a shock of the century. St. Louis could also trade the second overall pick to a team searching for a franchise quarterback (looking at you, Oakland Raiders).
The Jacksonville Jaguars, sitting on the third overall pick as of the first full weekend of January, are going quarterback. They don't have any other choice unless they're not interested in turning things around.
This all leads to the Browns, who could be facing a situation in which Manziel, Bortles and Bridgewater are all off the board by the time commissioner Roger Goodell mentions Cleveland from the podium. That may not be the worst thing for a franchise flirting with losing a fanbase that is running out of patience due to what has been a decade and a half of mediocrity.
I give you Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
Watkins, believed back at the end of December 2013 to be a future top-10 pick, introduced himself to the football world during his team's victory over Ohio State in the Orange Bowl last Friday evening. Watkins caught 16 passes, and he went for 227 receiving yards and two touchdowns in what will be the final contest of his collegiate career.
Watkins checked every theoretical box on a NFL scout sheet in the win. He made plays on quick screen passes, and he showed his ability to stretch the field and go deep. Watkins also went up high to turn potential incomplete passes into receptions and big plays for Clemson.
Last Friday wasn't a one-off for the young man who will be the top WR in the 2014 NFL draft. He finished the season with 101 receptions, 1,464 yards and 12 touchdowns.
The Browns already have a dynamic play-maker at the wide receiver position in Josh Gordon. Gordon emerged as one of the top WRs in all of the NFL during the 2013 campaign, and there is no reason to believe that he isn't going to improve over the next several seasons. A trio of Gordon, Watkins and tight end Jordan Cameron would be as formidable an offensive threat as you would find in the league.
Cleveland does have a second first-round pick at the team's disposal thanks to trading running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts last September. The Browns could use that selection to grab QB Zach Mettenberger from LSU. There also exists the possibility of Cleveland packaging multiple draft picks in order to move up and take Watkins AND a quarterback, such as Fresno State senior Derek Carr or Brett Hundley out of UCLA (Hundley is reportedly staying in college, so he may no longer be an option), in the first round.
Don't forget that the Browns are also banking on Brian Hoyer being fully recovered from an ACL tear and ready to start at QB by the time summer comes around. Hoyer may not sell tickets as would a Johnny Football, but you can bet that he'd love seeing Watkins, Gordon and Cameron lined up as he readied himself under center on Sundays.
Zac has been following Cleveland sports since a little before his birth, and thus his heart breaks a little more with every year. He has been covering the Cleveland Browns, New York Giants and the NFL for Yahoo Sports since 2010
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