The Cleveland Browns need a quarterback, that is certainly no secret. However, it is unclear just how the team plans to go about meeting that need. While it is assumed that former starter Brandon Weeden will be released sooner rather than later, the Browns could fill his spot in the draft or free agency. After praising Johnny Manziel as a possible franchise player, the team did not interview him at the NFL scouting combine. Could they be headed in a different direction?
Team owner Jimmy Haslam had previously said the Browns would do anything to acquire Manziel come the NFL Draft. Right now, Cleveland currently holds the No. 4 pick and the No. 26 pick in the first round. They could easily use one pick to move up in the draft and get Manziel No. 1 overall, or they could trade a pick for someone else.
Browns head coach Mike Pettine told media on Monday that Cleveland opted to not speak with Manziel at the combine. Pettine stressed that it is certainly not an indication of which way the team is leaning. He noted that there was still plenty of time before the draft in May to get to know every top prospect. Cleveland plans on being present when Manziel throws at his Pro Day and the team will likely speak with him them.
However, recent reports have Manziel's draft stock dropping a bit. The quarterback's height and desire to make more plays with his feet rather than his arm have some questioning his NFL stock. Recently, Blake Bortles and Derek Carr have been considered the better franchise option. Is Cleveland listening to the critics?
With two first-round picks in their possession, the Browns have a lot of options when it comes to acquiring a quarterback. The team could attempt to make a trade for someone like Ryan Mallett. So far, the Patriots have not indicated that Mallett is available and he certainly is not worth a first-round pick, but the Browns could easily sacrifice a later pick for the backup quarterback and use their first-round options for other needs.
The Browns could also be considering signing a free agent like Matt Cassel or Josh McCown as a stop-gap option. While neither veteran is a long-term option, the Browns could draft a rookie in a later round and use them to help develop the quarterback.
Having two first round picks opens a lot of doors for Cleveland. For whatever reason, the team appears to have soured on Manziel, but come draft time that could all be looked at as mere speculation.