The numbers are in and the interviews are over at the NFL scouting combine.
Five possible players stand out for the Cleveland Browns when they choose fourth in the draft. Though a surprise is always possible, the top five have emerged. All are talented, two are off-the-chart athletes, and three are quarterbacks.
Considering them in alphabetical order:
QB Blake Bortles is 6-5 and looks the part of the big passer so in vogue in the NFL. He’s big, smart, has a healthy dose of humility and said over and over he would never do anything off the field to embarrass a team or his last name. Most folks, though, think he needs a year or two of growth in the NFL before he’s ready to play. That’s not necessarily a bad thing (Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady come to mind?), but some believe a pick taken that high has to play right away.
QB Teddy Bridgewater played in a system that has most calling him the most NFL-ready quarterback in the draft. He’s smart, engaging and has a lot of production. But his wiry frame makes Barkevious Mingo look stocky. Durability in the more physical pros will be much discussed.
DE Jadeveon Clowney ran faster than most receivers, and addressed his college coach Steve Spurrier questioning his work ethic by disagreeing with Spurrier. Clowney is a terrific pass rusher who played with his hand down in college. Given the emphasis on size and speed on defense, he’d fit most any team.
QB Johnny Manziel had 7,000 yards of production and more touchdowns than many can count at Texas A&M. He’s a guy who can create plays and make something happen with his elusiveness and ability to move. He has big hands (the latest new combine measurement), and he’s gone to great lengths to prove he’s not brash. Brash doesn’t play well in the NFL, especially from rookies.
WR Sammy Watkins ran a 4.37 40-yard dash and has the quickness of a jaguar (the generic kind, not the Jacksonville one). He had more than 200 yards receiving against Ohio State, and he blocks willingly and well. He’s a guy Browns coach Mike Pettine said can score on any play. But he plays receiver, a position not often considered with the top four.
Those are the main options -- though a guy like Khalil Mack of Buffalo could sneak in the group. For now, those five are the main choices.
I’m not backing down from my choice, though Bortles makes me think.
I’d vote the top five in this order: 1) Watkins, 2) Bortles, 3) Clowney, 4) Manziel, 5) Bridgewater.
Let’s hear your vote. Cast it now ... and let the world know the player you believe the Browns should select with the draft’s fourth overall pick.