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Mike Mayock Talks About the Best Fit for the Browns at QB

Howard Smith - USA Today Sports

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock held a conference call with the media on Tuesday. The conference ended up lasting around two hours, with the transcript around 19,161 words in length -- not quite as long as last year, but still a lot for one guy having to field questions from reports across the country. A few Cleveland reporters on the call managed to get some questions in, most of which were focused on the quarterback position.

Q.  "My question is about the Browns at No.  4 and which of the top quarterbacks you think would fit them best in terms of their division, the environment in which they play most of their games and Kyle Shanahan being on board."

Mayock: "Yeah, you know what, I'm not sure the Browns know yet who the best one of those three is, are. Because on one hand, you talk about being in that division is, and I live in the Philadelphia area so I get to see a lot of Baltimore Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and I know that you have to be able to throw the ball in the wind and the cold.  You have to have big hands.

There's a lot of stuff about quarterback in those conditions.  I think all of those Top 3 quarterbacks [Bridgewater, Manziel, or Bortles] could play for the Cleveland Browns.   Blake Bortles is kind of a bigger, stronger guy, and people think he's got the biggest arm.  I'm not sure if he does or not.  I want to see him live.

But I also think he's the least developed of the three.  I think [Teddy] Bridgewater is the most ready to play NFL style quarterback in this draft and I think man sell has got that it factor where I don't think it matters if it's Cleveland, Seattle, Dallas, warm weather, cold weather, whatever.  I think he's just going to be who he is. So I understand what Shanahan's offense is and I understand what you're asking me, but I think all three of them could fit depending what they feel about each individual kid."

The next question focused more on Bridgewater, who Mayock deemed as the most NFL-ready quarterback:

Q.  "What makes Teddy Bridgewater more ready and do you think he will still be around when the Browns make their fourth pick?"

Mayock: "Yeah, I mean, you're talking about with the first eight picks in the draft, if I have teams have heavy quarterback needs, including 1 and 3 ahead of Cleveland. So from my perspective, the reason I think he's the quote most ready to play in an NFL style offense, he was in shotgun, his offense, they threw the ball short, intermediate and deep.  He understands three step, five step and he reads more than just half a field.

You can put the tape in and watch him do things and say, yeah, that translates to the next level.  He's not as much a wild card as [Johnny] Manziel, and I think he's more developed in his reads and throws than [Blake] Bortles. So that's why I say, I think he's the most ready to play.  Whether or not he's going to be there, that depends what Houston and Jacksonville do."

The final question about the Browns dealt with the intriguing scenario some fans have been thinking about -- forgetting the quarterback position and just rolling with a Sammy Watkins-Josh Gordon combination at wide receiver:

Q.  "If their favorite quarterback is off the board, how do you feel about Sammy Watkins and maybe a quarterback at 26 or 35, and having said that, does Derek Carr project as a long term starter worth taking?"

Mayock: "Oh, Watkins.  Watkins would be awesome there.  I think they can get a running back in a bunch of different places, given the number of picks the Browns have had year.  I'm all in on that kid, he can really play, and regarding the quarterback, yeah, I think Carr would be an interesting guy at 26.

I do believe I didn't love his USC tape in the Bowl game at all but I do believe he's got the arm strength and athletic ability to be a starter in the NFL.  I don't think he's a Pro Bowl type starter but he's a competent starter.  You've got to ask yourself, at 26, are you getting significant improvement over what you think Brian Hoyer is, because if you're not, then you need to move on and get another positional player."

Lastly, building off the great breakdown that Mike Krupka just did on Johnny Manziel, Mayock gave his assessment of the Texas A&M quarterback:

Q.  "If you could just give us your breakdown on Johnny Manziel, what you see on tape, good and bad and then maybe how you compare to contemporary quarterbacks?"

Mayock: "I am stunned it took that long to get to Johnny Manziel. You know, he's a different evaluation, and I'll give you my take on him right now.  The first tape I put in was Alabama and I put the tape down about two hours later and I said, wow, that was awesome, that was really fun to watch.  The kid makes throws, he allows his other players to make plays.   He gives Mike Evans a chance to make plays, he extends plays.  He was like a combination of Fran Tarkenton and Doug Flutie.  I really enjoyed it and there were two or three more tapes like that.

And as I worked my way through, because I wanted a minimum of five for each of the quality quarterbacks before the Combine, and I eventually got to the LSU and Missouri, neither of which were really good tapes. And both of which the common denominator for me was I felt like he got frustrated in the pocket and I felt like LSU and Missouri did a great job with controlling their rush and keeping him in the pocket, and the more he was in the pocket, the more frustrated he got.   He started to lose his accuracy.  He started trying to escape the pocket way before he needed to, and I feel like he doesn't like being confined.  He likes those open spaces.

And we've got to evaluate him a little differently because of that.  And again, I felt like he would back out of the pocket when  --  and he'd try --  all of a sudden the accuracy is down, the decision making is down.  NFL teams are going to clue into that very quickly.

Having said all of that, I do believe he's got the arm strength, athletic ability, the passion for the game, at the end of the day, he's different than any quarterback I've done before.  He's different than [Robert Griffin III], different than Cam Newton, different than Andrew Luck, and he's different than Russell Wilson. But I believe in the kid.  I think he's going to be a Top 10 if not a Top 5 pick.  But you're going to have to live with some of those negative plays in addition to the positive ones."

You can read Mayock's full transcript here to see what he said about other players and teams.