A lot of Cleveland Browns fans are nervously shaking at the idea of the “nightmare” scenario in the 2014 NFL Draft. That situation, although unlikely to happen, is obviously a possibility for the Browns at No. 4 overall. Just two drafts ago, the Browns were essentially forced into one of the more boneheaded trades the team has made due to the “nightmare scenario” — they traded a fourth, fifth and seventh-round pick to the Minnesota Vikings in order to move just one spot up to take Trent Richardson. Everyone and their mother knew the Vikings wanted Matt Kalil anyways but Minnesota tricked the Browns into thinking they were going to take Richardson. So what does that look like this year?
With the No. 1 overall pick, the Houston Texans take Jadaveon Clowney, defensive end from South Carolina. Most people would agree that this is pretty much a foregone conclusion. If Houston leaves Clowney on the board, the St. Louis Rams or Jacksonville Jaguars are sure to take him at 2 or 3. Clowney will not fall to the Browns; if he could this column would be entitled the “Dream Scenario”.
The No. 2 overall pick is where the Browns face their first real danger. St. Louis surprises everyone and takes Sammy Watkins, wide receiver from Clemson. St. Louis could absolutely add Watkins as a weapon for Sam Bradford to give him one last real chance at becoming a true NFL quarterback. The Rams could also trade down in this pick to Buffalo at No. 9 either for a swap of this year’s picks plus Buffalo’s 2015 first-round pick, or perhaps a swap of the picks plus Buffalo’s 2nd, 4th and 6th.
At No. 3 overall, Jacksonville decides to surprise everybody, with other players they have been linked to still on the board, and take the true “who knows” player in this year’s NFL Draft in Johnny Manziel, quarterback from Texas A&M. Manziel is the quarterback the Browns would ideally take at No. 4 if they are planning on taking a quarterback. Manziel provides that instant spark that you need in an offense and is truly a playmaker that the Browns haven’t really had a chance to utilize at the quarterback position. In Kyle Shanahan‘s offense, a mobile quarterback is a must — exactly what Johnny Football thrives on.
So that leaves us with the nightmare scenario: choosing between an offensive lineman, Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater and Khalil Mack — the most talented player still on the board, but he doesn’t fill a particular need for the Browns. Cleveland is obviously desperate for a quarterback, so let’s remove Mack and any offensive lineman to put Bortles and Bridgewater into play. All of the experts seem to suggest that Bridgewater cannot play at a high level. Usually this means that people are a lot higher on Bridgewater than they want others to think, but something about this draft is different than the others.
Therefore the Browns’ nightmare scenario at the number 4 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft is Blake Bortles, quarterback from the University of Central Florida. Yes, Bortles has “prototypical” quarterback size and he certainly has a strong arm. He feels pressure well, and he can occasionally dart out of the pocket for a nice scramble. He can absolutely take a hit, but he also has a strong grasp on when to slide. The issue? He’s never had to make any legitimate NFL style throws. Watch his tape; the only thing he can do is throw bubble screens. Kyle Shanahan’s offense, although it does incorporate quite a number of bubble screens, is based on the idea of being able to get the ball down field. Look at Robert Griffin III and the way that he operated. Bortles has never been tested, and taking him No. 4 overall is a MASSIVE mistake. Ideally, you swap with the Oakland Raiders at No. 5 who are apparently higher on Bortles than any other team in the NFL. Also, all of those traits that I just mentioned about Bortles can be said for a quarterback in last year’s draft too — Zac Dysert from Miami (OH), taken by the Denver Broncos in the 7th round. Why waste the No. 4 overall pick when you could have had the same thing last year in the 7th round? Bortles is your worst case scenario for the Browns in the 2014 NFL Draft.