As much as the Browns need a quarterback, there’s no guarantee they’ll draft one in the first round on April 27.
And if they pass on the headliners and instead pick from the second tier, remember these prospects: Pittsburgh’s Nate Peterman, Tennessee’s Josh Dobbs and California’s Davis Webb.
They played in the Senior Bowl in January. Browns coach Hue Jackson and his staff guided Dobbs and Webb on the South team. Peterman played for the Chicago Bears on the North team. The Browns got a good feel for what all of them can do.
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said Wednesday during a conference call the order in which he ranks the top eight quarterbacks is as follows:
North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes, Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer, Peterman, Dobbs or Miami’sBrad Kaaya sixth and then Webb.
Kiper projects Trubisky, Watson, Mahomes and Kizer to become first-round picks. Kizer visited the Browns Wednesday, ESPNCleveland.com reported.
But of all the quarterbacks, Kiper said Peterman is the most ready to play right away in the NFL, partly because he’s experienced in a pro-style scheme. Kiper projects Peterman to become a second-round choice.
“(Peterman) has the best chance to come in and play from a mental standpoint and knowing the game and playing in a pro offense like (Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson) Wentz did, which really helped him,” Kiper said. “I think he gets an edge over all these quarterbacks.”
Kiper can envision Dobbs, who went 23-12 as a starter at Tennessee, being selected earlier than some analysts have predicted.
“Are some of the throws and some of the things that go on the quarterback’s fault? Or is it the receiver’s fault? That’s the argument you can make in some cases with Dobbs and Tennessee,” Kiper said. “You think about the Senior Bowl week, how it helped him. You think about interviews. Obviously, that’s going to help him.
“He’s incredibly intelligent, great character, classy quarterback, off-the-field leadership, all that, respect, everything he had from an intangible standpoint. He has the physical traits you want as well. So if you can feel like a better supporting cast would have helped him maybe play a little bit better at Tennessee, then you can think about Josh Dobbs in the second or third round.”
Webb played for California for one season and nearly matched the production of Jared Goff, the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s draft who struggled as a rookie with the Los Angeles Rams. Webb was also named the MVP of the Senior Bowl.
“You love the size. You love the ability to see the field. He can make all the throws,” Kiper said. “It’s just the accuracy. I saw some throws that left you scratching your head. … I just didn’t see the consistency. I didn’t see the accuracy.
“Some people think he can go second round. If he goes second, great for him. I would not think about Webb that early. On my list, I’d say he would be a little bit overrated. But I hope he does go second round ‘cause that’s what you kind of hear out there, second or third round for Davis Webb. He can definitely spin it. I just think the system and the lack of great accuracy is the reason I’m not quite as high on him as maybe some others are.”
Jackson said last week at the NFL owners meetings the Browns hope to secure their quarterback of the future this offseason, but they also don’t want to force it. He conceded the organization is considering what next year’s quarterback class will look like in case things don’t unfold this year the way the franchise would want. Analysts project next year’s crop of quarterbacks to be stronger than this year’s group.
It would be surprising, though, if the Browns don’t draft a QB at all this year and eventually sign a veteran. Right now, Cody Kessler is the leader in the clubhouse to start.
The Browns are expected to pick Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett first overall. But a top-rated QB — there are signs Trubisky is Jackson’s favorite — would make sense at No. 12.
If that doesn’t happen and an unlikely trade doesn’t materialize for a veteran quarterback or for a quarterback prospect at another spot in the first round, remember the quarterbacks the Browns got to know at the Senior Bowl. They have two picks in the second round (Nos. 33 and 52 overall) and one in the third (No. 65).
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