April 16, 2014

Browns to work out Johnny Manziel this weekend per report

nfldraftThe Browns didn’t use one of their official interviews on Johnny Manziel during the NFL combine. Then they were one of just two teams in the NFL not to send a representative to Manziel’s pro day.

This weekend the Browns will get their chance with Johnny Football.

According to Adam Caplan, Manziel is next up to visit the Browns.

The Browns have the fourth and twenty-sixth picks in the upcoming NFL draft.

Currently, the Browns have Brian Hoyer and Alex Tanney as the only quarterbacks on the roster.

[Related: The worst NFL draft cliches]

2014 NFL Draft, re-upping Brian Hoyer, Mike Evans over Sammy Watkins and C.J. Mosely – WFNY Podcast – 2014-04-15

WFNY Podcast LogoThe fake Jim Kanicki or the real Mike Burgermeister joined me to talk through some Browns topics.

We talked about the 2014 NFL draft, specifically who the Browns should take at #4. Mike Evans vs. Sammy Watkins and talking about three studs on the offensive line.

Finally, we talked a bit about NFL draft cliches.


Check out this episode!

Could Teddy Bridgewater slide into Day 2 of NFL Draft?

 NCAA Football: Louisville at West Virginia

The pendulum appears to be swinging in the opposite direction—and quickly. It wasn’t long ago that mock drafts had the “Big 3″ quarterbacks all being selected within the first four picks. Today, headlines are screaming that not only will this not be the case, but one of the quarterbacks may not even be selected on the NFL Draft’s first day.

Profootballtalk’s Michael David Smith is “hearing more talk” in league circles that the draft stock of this year’s top-rated quarterbacks is “dropping.” SI.com’s Peter King added fuel to this fire in his MMQB column, stating the Browns—along with the Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Oakland Raiders—are “strongly considering” passing on QBs at the top of the draft, “and waiting until their second or third selections.” Many pundits are grouping Derek Carr, Zach Mettenberger, Tom Savage, Jimmy Garoppolo, and A.J. McCarron as a second tier that doesn’t have as big of a drop from the first as in years past.

In 2013, it was West Virginia’s Geno Smith who went from Top-10 lock to a second-day selection in a matter of days. Bortles and Manziel appear to be first-round locks as they haven’t given much reason for a slide. With a dreadful Pro Day and lukewarm grades being handed out to quarterbacks, could Teddy Bridgewater be the next to follow suit? Reports are circulating that even Bridgewater’s private workouts have been shaky. This would be the kind of fall that if it were to happen in a fantasy draft, two-thirds of the league would be Googling for unbeknownst injury news; the other third would be using last year’s magazine.

Photo: Andrew Weber-US

Clowney will not hold private workouts before NFL Draft

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What’s the down side in not attending a draft prospects Pro Day? The Cleveland Browns may soon find out.

In the wake of an injury sustained by Clemson’s Brandon Thomas, potential first-overall draft selection Jadveon Clowney will not be participating in any private workouts heading into May’s NFL Draft. ”He still will visit teams and interview with coaches and GMs,” writes SI’s Peter King, ”but his next show-and-tell football performance will be after the draft in a mini-camp, with whichever team picks him.”

The Browns were the only team to not have front office members present at Clowney’s (incredibly impressive) Pro Day two weeks back, citing that “being in charge of that workout is different than being at a Pro Day where it’s orchestrated and scripted.” Unfortunately for Cleveland, they’ll now see neither.

This (bound to be controversial) decision by Clowney will only serve to add to the talented pass-rusher’s mystique while making the monocles pop out of the eyes of schoolmarms like this “personnel man” throughout the league. Remember, this was the same player who was accused of milking injuries to not hinder his draft stock just weeks after being the subject of glowing columns and feature-length stories.

Isn’t anonymous character assassination delightful?

(Photo: Dale Zanine, USA TODAY Sports)

McShay’s latest mock: Bortles falls to Browns at No. 4; Carr still on the board after two rounds

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Are pundits souring on the quarterbacks? After having the “Big 3″ being taken within the first few picks, ESPN’s Todd McShay still has Blake Bortles being the first quarterback to be selected, but not until the fourth-overall pick as used by your Cleveland Browns.

Conceding to his Big Board, McShay has Houston selecting All-Universe defensive lineman Jadaveon Clowney with the first-overall pick. From there, Auburn’s Greg Robinson goes to St. Louis and Buffalo’s Khalil Mack gets nabbed by Jacksonville at No. 3.

I think this pick would come down to Bortles or WR Sammy Watkins. I’m going with Bortles. While he isn’t a perfect prospect at QB, he has the highest ceiling of any quarterback in this class. He has some improving to do with his mechanics, but he showed clear progress in that area during his pro-day workout, and he checks all the boxes in terms of his size (6-foot-5, 232 pounds), intangibles, character, mental makeup and leadership ability. He can also make plays with his legs and is more creative than he gets credit for.

McShay has Watkins going fifth to Oakland, Mike Evans going seventh to Tampa Bay, Johnny Manziel (who he had going fourth-overall last month) going eighth to Minnesota, and Teddy Bridgewater falling to Tennessee at No. 11.

Choosing Bortles over Watkins at No. 4, McShay once again pegs the Browns as selecting a wide receiver with the 26th-overall pick. This time, the receiver du jour is Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin, the 6-foot-5-inch giant who was hauling in passes from Jameis Winston.1

This pair of picks would give Cleveland a young and potentially explosive passing attack to develop (TE Jordan Cameron and WR Andrew Hawkins would help round out an impressive receiving corps). Benjamin has a lot of developing to do as a route-runner and is inconsistent catching the ball on tape, but he is a red-zone nightmare who does a great job of coming down with 50-50 balls.

Fans of size will also like that McShay has pegged Nebraska cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste in the second round. The 6-foot-3-inch corner would presumably step and provide size across from Joe Haden.

Derek Carr, a player recently linked to the Browns at No. 4, does not get selected in either of the first two projected rounds.

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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Footnotes:

  1. “It seemed like every time I looked up I had picked another wide receiver. There are a lot of teams with needs at the position, and a lot of good receiver prospects in this draft.” — McShay []

“Growing sentiment” that Browns could nab Carr at No. 4

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Buried at the bottom of a glowing column about Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr from ESPN.com’s Ashley Fox is a report that the “growing sentiment” throughout the NFL is that the Cleveland Browns are not just fond of the precise passer, but could use the fourth-overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft to obtain him.

Carr is gaining steam because, unlike Manziel, Bortles and Eastern Illinois’ Jimmy Garoppolo, he ran a pro-style offense for a year in college. As a redshirt sophomore in 2011, Carr was a starter for then-Fresno State coach Pat Hill. He learned the skills a quarterback needs at the next level: timing, footwork, and accuracy, among them. He threw vertical routes with precision and displayed a strong arm. […]

Which is why there’s growing sentiment around the league that Cleveland could decide that Carr is its guy and use the fourth overall pick on him despite owning three picks in the top 35, including No. 26 overall.

At the NFL owners meeting last week, new Browns coach Mike Pettine talked about the positive attributes Bortles, Manziel, Bridgewater and Carr possess. He said Bortles has all the measurables, Bridgewater is “very cerebral” and Manziel is a “gifted playmaker.” Pettine said Carr was “the best natural thrower as far as arm strength … in the draft.”

Where Johnny Manziel is “competitive” and Teddy Bridgewater is “cerebral,” Carr is being tabbed as “mature” with an exceptional character1. He used his pro day wisely, throwing all vertical passes as opposed the bubble screens which were common in Fresno State. There is also an increasing amount of “it factor” rhetoric being attached to Carr, and plenty of it being used in Fox’s column.

Naturally, this is the exact same “factor” used by Pettine to describe his ideal quarterback. When the first batch of mock drafts were released following the conclusion of the NFL season, Carr’s name barely found the first round. For him to shoot up to No. 4 would not only be a bold move by the Browns, but one that would once again show that draftniks only have so much intel.2

Image: Cary Edmondson/USA Today Sports

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Footnotes:

  1. Read: married with a family. []
  2. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how much this sounds like what we heard regarding Geno Smith a year ago. One month to go… []

Browns brass becomes bystanders for Blake Bortles’ ballgame

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There’s just not enough time in the day. A few hours after we catch word that the Browns’ “Big 4″ snubbed Jadaveon Clowney’s pro day, we hear from multiple reports that the team is simply busy conducting a private workout wwith Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles.

Bortles has become the sexy No. 1 pick in many mock drafts, meaning that he would not be available at No. 4 when Cleveland was officially on the clock. Holding the No. 26 pick as well, however, could allow the Browns to move up in the event they felt the need to secure a specific player—whether that player is the 6-foot-5-inch Bortles or not.

Keeping in line with their thoughts on not having to take a quarterback with the fourth-overall pick, the team recently worked out Fresno State’s Derek Carr and are expected to do their due dilligence on several other quarterbacks before the 2014 NFL Draft rolls around this May. Carr’s potential (along with others like LSU’s Zach Mettenberger) would makes sense in the event the Browns go another direction with their first first-round selection. Say, an offensive lineman?

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

 

Browns are equal-opportunity haters; team skips Clowney’s pro day

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When it comes to pro days, the Cleveland Browns aren’t just saying “no thanks” to the quarterbacks. As South Carolina’s Jadaveon Clowney shows off his freak athleticism in front of the masses, NFL Network’s Mike Mayock reports that the Browns front office was not present.

As the 2014 NFL Draft approaches, the Browns have made more news for what they haven’t done more so than what they have. When Lousiville’s Teddy Bridgewater was one-hopping passes to receviers, only Ray Farmer was on hand; head coach Mike Pettine, offensvie coordinator Kyle Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains were elsewhere. The entire contingent was absent from Central Florida’s Blake Bortles’ pro day as well as Texas A&Ms Johnny Manziel’s—the latter being one of the more-anticipated pro days of the entire pre-draft process.

The Browns have been on record all off-season, slamming the importance of pro days—”Being in charge of that workout is different than being at a Pro Day where it’s orchestrated and scripted,” Farmer recently stated. So, what’d the they miss?

Skipping the pro days may prove to be a non-event; the Browns may prove to be trailblazers in the information-dodging, expense friendly approach to what has otherwise been an annual event for media and executives across the country. But given the Browns’ track record of futility, to continually be one of the only teams to avoid the highly discussed events—while the rest of the NFL is represented—is certainly newsworthy.

Though his sack total dipped in 2013, Clowney is widely considered to be among the most talented players in the entire draft pool. NBC’s Tony Dungy recently said that the Houston Texans, owners of the No. 1 pick, should take the dynamic pass-rusher. Clowney currently sits atop Scouts Inc.’s Big Board, joining Auburn’s Greg Robinson with 97 grades. The Browns used plenty of assets in 2013 to bolster their pass rush, but if Clowney is available at No. 4, it’s tough to envision any honest scenario where he isn’t the best player available.

(Photo: Dale Zanine, USA TODAY Sports)

 

Yan Gomes and Miguel Cabrera get paid; Josh Gordon wants Johnny Manziel: While We’re Waiting

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First and foremost: Baseball!

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First and foremost (Part II), if you haven’t cast your votes yet, now is the time to do so. WFNY is nominated for Best Sports Blog and Best Podcast in Cleveland. We do this for free and count on you all to show your support through the ballot box. It’s Opening Day…why not start things off right? Thanks in advance, folks.

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Josh wants Johnny. Not long after discussing quarterback Johnny Manziel on Radio Row at the Super Bowl, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon, once again, puts his Pro Bowl vote behind the Texas A&M quarterback for the Browns at No. 4 this May.

“To bring that spark to a team—that play-making ability—would be huge,” Gordon said of Manziel. “I’d love to see what he can do.”

There are some who wonder if Gordon is tipping the Browns’ draft hand, but those are also people who believe players are involved in the front office’s draft discussions. Earlier in the week, when he was on ESPN’s First Take, Gordon predicted a 10-6 record for the Browns in 2014 as led by one Brian Hoyer, so he’s nothing if not diplomatic. What Gordon’s words do signify is that (in addition to not being a scout) he’s a bit tired of catching passes from a different guy every week. The Browns continue to say that they don’t feel the need to draft a quarterback early, but the national pundits aren’t buying it. The question will come down to who’s there at No. 4, who does the team actually want (a lot of Teddy Bridgewater rumblings remain) , and do those stars align.

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Yanimal. I was pleasantly surprised to see the Yan Gomes news come across the wire this weekend as he’s clearly a guy who should be playing for more than the MLB minimum. It’s a team-friendly deal, and I’m all about the team. But I’m also all about said team locking up the only player who received MVP consideration a year ago in Jason Kipnis. This is the second offseason wherein the Indians and Kipnis were reportedly negotiating, and with Opening Day just hours away, it appears that we will head into another season without a long-term deal in place. Kipnis plays a premium position and is widely considered to be a player on the ascent. If another MVP-caliber season is on the horizon, the team is going to be in for a rude awakening once arbitration season rolls around. The Los Angeles Angels avoided such a mess by inking Mike Trout for the foreseeable future. If the Tribe wants to keep their word about locking up their core, they may want to realize the commodity they have and do the same. The benchmarks are already in place.

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Big Money Miguel. By now, you’ve seen plenty of opinions on the deal signed by Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers.  It was just a matter of time before Nate Silver gave his thoughts over at FiveThirtyEight, and given my personal intersection of sports and business, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the economic rationale of why the Tigers’ deal—while disgusting on the cover—may not be as bad as we think. As the value of the average MLB franchise increases at a rate better than that of the S&P 500, and the number of billionaires continues to grow, Silver says that the economic impact of signing Cabrera to such a lucrative deal may simply be akin to holding (and eventually selling) a basket of goods—and Cabrera is a good good. Of course, there’s also the chance that this is all a huge bubble (something our own Craig has been calling for years) and Mike Ilitch could be left holding the bag. He’ll also still be a billionaire.

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And just because: We’ll miss you, Dayton. Hell of a run.

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Browns schedule private workout for Derek Carr

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The Cleveland Browns will reportedly conduct a private workout with Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr on Monday. Northeast Ohio Media Group’s Mary Kay Cabot reports that Carr will merely be the first name on what is a “big list” of individuals slated to be the subject of individual scrutiny in Berea.

Bailing on pro days left and right, this will be the team’s first up-close look at a quarterback prospect heading into the 2014 NFL Draft. Browns head coach Mike Pettine reportedly called Carr the “best natural thrower” in this year’s draft class.

“(He’s) very physically gifted,” said Pettine. “A lot of times it’s hard to bet against the family history as well. You’re talking about like a Jake Matthews that it’s the old ‘don’t bet against the genetics.’ I think he certainly falls into that category as well.”

Carr, the brother of former No. 1 pick David, also has private workouts scheduled with the Vikings, Rams, Titans, and Raiders. The Browns own the Nos. 4 and 26 picks in the first round of May’s draft and continue to be linked to every essentially player who plays the position. Most analysts originally felt that Carr was more of a late-first rounder, an impressive workout at his pro day and increasing buzz could see him solidly land with a team higher up in the first round.

The 6-foot-3-inch Carr possesses a solid résumé and exceptional intangibles. The question marks surround his on-field production at the next level given below-average pocket presence as well as average arm strength.  Also: His name isn’t Johnny Manziel.

Image: Cary Edmondson/USA Today Sports

Browns one of two teams to not attend Johnny Manziel’s pro day

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The Chicago Bears and your Cleveland Browns were the only two teams absent from Johnny Manziel’s Thursday Pro Day, but they don’t seem to care.

Shunning off pro days as if they’re irrelevant has become quite the fad in Berea, the latest being due to a reported “schedule conflict.” Browns head coach Mike Pettine and GM Ray Farmer (the latter did attend the Central Florida and Louisville for Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater, respectively) believe the events are “too scripted” for quarterbacks. Per Mary Kay Cabot of the Northeast Ohio Media Group, the head coach likened the difference between pro days and private workouts to a “slugger hitting home runs in batting practice versus live pitching.”

“A Pro Day of orchestrated throws, I don’t know what that tells you,” said Farmer. “It’s a piece of it that people blow up into this great thing. I went to a lot of games and practices this fall. I’ve seen them throw the ball.”

Manziel, who wore a helmet and shoulder pads (which were apparently a part of a Nike campaign—seriously), dazzled both on and off of the field, displaying a new grip and completing throws that even made ESPN’s Ron Jaworski a believer. Jaws, who was one of Manziel’s biggest critics, said that the Texas A&M product was “magnificent” just hours after saying he would not draft him within the first three rounds.

The Browns’ absence from Manziel’s Pro Day is notable, but they’re expected to conduct a private workout with the A&M signal caller between now and the May NFL Draft.

“We will have our opportunities to have private workouts,” Farmer said. “Being in charge of that workout is different than being at a Pro Day where it’s orchestrated and scripted.”

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Johnny Manziel will wear helmet and shoulder pads at pro day

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If he can’t simulate a defensive pass rush, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel will surely do all he can to simulate the physical hurdles of throwing while being draped in football equipment. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports that Manziel, a player widely considered to be taken among the top eight in the impending NFL Draft, will wear a helmet and shoulder pads during the throwing portion of his pro day.

This move is certainly going to produce plenty of discussion for several reaasons. One, it’s believed to be the first time that a collegiate quarterback is doing so as many use their pro days to provide the most ideal of conditions. Secondly, fellow quarterback Teddy Bridgewater did not wear pads and a helmet and still couldn’t throw the ball well during his day.

Manziel’s pro day will be one of the most analyzed of the pre-draft season given that he has not thrown a football in front of evaluators since leaving declaring for the NFL. How this move works is to be determined, but it’d be more discussed if Manziel went all WWE and the helmet and jersey were that of the Cleveland Browns.

Image via HesslerStudios

Jimmy Haslam discusses relationship with Bill Parcells, role in NFL Draft

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What a difference a year makes. About this time in 2013, Jimmy Haslam was reassuming his role as chairman of Pilot Flying J, placing the Cleveland Browns in the hands of Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi, and speaking only through press releases and legal filters. There was a point where the team he had just purchased was merely a line item within a world in disarray. Today, though still under the microscope of legal scrutiny, the team’s majority owner has reassumed his role of a hands-on owner, sitting down with Browns beat writer Tony Grossi to discuss the lay of the land in Berea.

Grossi and Haslam discussed the team’s relationship with Alex Mack (Jimmy believes Alex wants to play in Cleveland), Bill Parcells (he’s not coming to Cleveland), and Brian Hoyer (he’s a “gamer.”). But the biggest takeaway, in what was another offseason of front office turmoil and severed solid and dotted lines, is the fact that Haslam says that the NFL Draft will be entirely in the hands of general manager Ray Farmer and head coach Mike Pettine.

“We will agree strategically that these are the positions we’ll concentrate on, but Ray and Mike and the football guys will make those football decisions,” said Haslam. “Zero chance [I tell Ray to draft a certain player or position]. We will have so many conversations between now and the draft about who we’re picking, this position or that one, who are the top three or four. We will be all planned out. That’s what getting ready’s all about. We’ll all participate.”

Given the current organizational structure, with Farmer, Pettine and team president Alec Scheiner reporting directly through Haslam, it appears, at least in quote, that things are headed in the right direction—a far cry from this mess, anyway.

Browns officially ink Paul McQuistan, still have gaping hole at guard

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One ginger leaves, another one takes his spot. After weeks of speculation and a visit to Berea, offensive lineman Paul McQuistan is the newest member of the Cleveland Browns. In turn, the team officially has a warm body to slot next to one side of Alex Mack in the event that they can’t address the gaping hole at guard through the NFL Draft or through the remainder of free agency.

McQuistan, who turns 31 next month, started 40 games the past three seasons. He’s capable of playing both guard and tackle but isn’t necessarily good at any spot. In their press release, the Browns made sure to mention that McQuistan played for the “Super Bowl XLVIII champion Seattle Seahawks,” where he started 14 games in 2013—most of which were due to injuries ahead of him, none of which were in the postseason. As our own Rick pointed out last week, McQuistan, while serviceable, is hardly an upgrade over the shoddy guard play that plagued the Browns one season ago.

Let this serve as another reminder that ESPN Cleveland’s Tony Grossi has the Browns linked to Greg Robinson with the fourth-overall pick in the impending NFL Draft, the thoughts being that the bruiser out of Auburn could be a short-term fix at the guard spot. Who knew replacing Shaun Lauvao would prove to be so difficult?

Details surrounding the McQuistan deal are presently unknown. If history is any indication, the deal is for two years or has the bulk of the compensation being paid out over the first two years.

(Update: McQuistan’s deal is in fact for two years. No word on the compensation, though it can’t be much.)

Could the Browns go O-Line with the No. 4 pick?

Greg Robinson

Among all of the sexy, play-making names who appear near the top of mock drafts everywere, could the Cleveland Browns be considering the least sexy of them all? In his latest mock draft published on ESPN Cleveland’s ever-muddled website, Browns beat writer Tony Grossi brings Auburn’s Greg Robinson’s name into the fold as a possibility at No. 4.

Robinson is a unquestioned stud. He’s the No. 2 player on Mel Kiper’s Big Board (behind South Carolina’s Jadaveon Clowney). He’s a giant. He’s dominant. He moves well. He’s a future star. He’s an offensive lineman.

Browns fans have long set themselves up for the team to take a play-making, skill position player with the fourth-overall selection—Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, and Sammy Watkins among them. Conversely, Browns GM Ray Farmer has long stated that the team has the luxury of not having to reach for a specific position—a luxury afforded to them by having so many holes—and the team would be taking the top-rated player on their draft board. The 6-foot-5-inch, 300-pound Robinson could easily be there when the Browns’ helmet pops up at the bottom of the screen on Draft Night. He’s a player who could be the long-term answer at tackle, and, at least per Grossi, could be asked to play guard in the near term.

Need something to butter you up? Keep an eye on No. 73.

Robinson came into Auburn as a guard and later became an All-World left tackle. He’s very skilled, very talented, and very raw. By all accounts, he  will be making many trips to the Pro Bowl (as long as it continues to exist) throughout his career. He’s a player who will undoubtedly make the Browns better if he’s brought on board, but he won’t do much in the way of adding to jersey sales—at least out of the gate.  If the Browns don’t address their offensive line via free agency between now and May, he’s very much in play.

Image via USATSI

Indians have 2nd-best catchers, FiveThirtyEight and Blake Bortles… While We’re Waiting

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FanGraphs: Indians have 2nd-best catchers, 17th-best first baseman. If you are into baseball stats, you should not only be perusing all of the tools on FanGraphs, but you also should keep an eye on their content. During the 2013 season, their writers had major crushes on both Corey Kluber and Danny Salazar. Now? It appears they’re pretty high on Yan Gomes. [Read more...]

Over Troubled Bridgewater

NCAA Football: Louisville at West Virginia

He isn’t who we thought he was. As Theodore (“Teddy”) Bridgewater was spraying footballs all over the University of Louisville’s field house, the ball fluttering every which way as it traveled in the general direction of a wide receiver, it became evident that the top end of the impending 2014 NFL Draft would provide even more question marks than had originally been surmised. For a player who spurned the NFL Combine in preference of showcasing his own talents in a one-spotlight room to falter as bad as Bridgewater did is rare. For a player who has thrived much of his collegiate career by completing passes on the run to not just miss at doing so, but miss in a way that led to unanimous panning is another.

[Read more...]

McShay’s latest links Browns to Manziel

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The third installment of Todd McShay’s mock draft was published on Thursday morning and the Cleveland Browns find themselves once again linked to an old friend in Texas A&M Quarterback Johnny Manziel.

Manziel, who was described as the Browns’ darling prior to the elmination of Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi from the front office, had recently been bumped to the top of the pile, linked to the Houston Texans at the No. 1 spot. It appears that, for at least today, there’s a new hot name listed at No. 1 in Central Florida’s Blake Bortles, allowing Manziel to be available at No. 4 with the Browns’ first first-round selection.

Per ESPN.com’s McShay:

The mantra for the Browns is the same as for the Jaguars: take the best available QB. They’ll be pulling hard for Clowney and Robinson to be among the top three picks so they have some choices here, but in this scenario the only guy among our first round-worthy QBs is Manziel. I don’t know if he’s an ideal fit or if he’d be the Browns’ first choice, but I’m not worried about his size or arm strength as it relates to playing in cold weather. If I had to rank the top three QBs in terms of arm strength, I’d go Bridgewater, Manziel and Bortles, without much difference among the three. And Manziel’s 9 7/8-inch hands are plenty big enough to grip the ball in cold weather.

For what it’s worth, McShay has South Carolina’s Jadaveon Clowney as his No. 1 overall player and Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater as his top-ranked quarterback, each going second and third, respectively.

With Clemson’s Sammy Watkins and Texas A&M’s Mike Evans being selected fifth and 10th, respectively, the Browns are linked to Brandin Crooks, the 5-foot-9-inch wide recevier out of Oregon State at No. 26 overall. Crooks ran the fastest 40 time among receivers at the combine and his acceleration up the field right after the catch is elite. He would seemingly become the team’s No. 2 receiver opposite of Josh Gordon.

Image via Hessler Studios

Browns Draft Smokescreens and Cavalier Legends: While We’re Waiting

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The New Expression of WWW…

No interview for Johnny Football- In what had to be the most overblown piece of news from yesterday, Mike Pettine told reporters at the Cleveland Auto Show that the team didn’t use one of their formal interviews at the combine on Johnny Manziel. First off, the Browns will be at his pro day. They will talk with him there. If they have any inkling that they may have a shot to take him or even want to talk with him they will simply fly him to Cleveland and run him through the ropes.

It’s kind of funny that Mike Pettine even dropped this nugget. Sounds like some pretty serious misdirection if you ask me.But hey, slow news day I guess. The other piece that was circulated around from his comments was about his confidence in Brian Hoyer. He had nothing but glowing things to say about Hoyer. Who of course was there WITH Pettine signing autographs. [Fan Sided]

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Remembering Bluffton- Sunday marked seven years since the Bluffton University baseball team had a terrible bus crash heading to Florida for spring training. I lived a few miles from Bluffton for about five years. It’s one of those small country towns in western Ohio where time kind of stands still. A quilt shop is one of the busiest stores on the main strip. It is flanked by a junk store. They may call it an antique store, but just peek in the window. It’s a junk store. An ice cream shop and a hardware store are the other big retail establishments in town.

The college is a big deal in Bluffton, both for the financial impact and the social diversity. The tragedy that occurred shook the quiet community. Here is the story of one of the survivors. The piece is a couple years old, but it is well worth the watch. About 10 minutes.

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Cavs Rank Continues- This is a great series, and shows how awesome the Cavaliers blog/media community is. So many good writers and people involved with several great sites. Yesterday was Ryan Mourton’s turn to discuss Campy Russell. Campy was drafted when I was two years old. Needless to say, I don’t remember much about Campy the player. I’m guessing most of you didn’t either. [Fear the Sword]

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Indians hand out one-year deals- The Tribe took care of the players under team control with one-year deals on Tuesday. Austin Adams, T.J. House, Colt Hynes, Corey Kluber, C.C. Lee, Bryan Shaw and Lonnie Chisenhall all signed on the dotted line. They were all under three years of service time. [FOX Sports Ohio]

Cosell: Browns should take Sammy Watkins over any QB

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In an interview with ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd show, NFL Films’ Greg Cosell said that, if he were the Cleveland Browns, he would take Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins over any quarterback in this upcoming draft class.

“You know, they draft at four,” said Cosell. “And in my view, if he is there, I would take Sammy Watkins before I would take a quarterback. I think this is not a very good quarterback class, but I do think Sammy Watkins is that good.”

That last line is not exactly a positive for teams with a quarterback need, such as the Browns. Many mock drafts have the Browns selecting one of the top three quarterbacks—Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater or Central Florida’s Blake Bortles. Other reports have stated that the Browns want to draft Derek Carr with their second first-round pick, obrained in the trade for running back Trent Richardson.

NFL.com’s Gil Brandt recently listed Watkins as one of his Combine Standouts, listing him as having “extremely explosive speed, meaning he’s one of those guys who will be able to catch a quick screen and beat you downfield on a fly route.” 

As thin as the quarterback position may be this May, the wide receiver position (led by Watkins and Texas A&M’s Mike Evans) appears to be pretty deep. Using a No. 4 pick on a receiver will surely raise some eyebrows, but when it comes to the Browns, nothing is out of question at this stage of the game.