Increasing buzz on Geno Smith to Browns

There's increasing buzz that West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith will land with the Cleveland Browns, a team that has feigned interest in drafting a quarterback with their top pick for months.

In their latest mock drafts Wednesday, NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock and Sports Illustrated's Peter King both have the Browns taking Smith, the consensus No. 1 quarterback in the draft. The Browns had been linked more to Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner because chief executive officer Joe Banner said a couple of times this offseason that quarterback wasn't the focus for the No. 6 overall pick.

The Browns, however, have done their homework on Smith and the rest of the quarterback class. Smith had a private workout with Cleveland, which was attended by coach Rob Chudzinski. Is this a matter of the Browns doing their due diligence, or are the Browns really interested?

"There are quarterbacks in this draft that are intriguing," Banner said at last week's pre-draft news conference. "We will have to make an evaluation between now and Thursday on just how intriguing. Other teams will be doing the same thing, so you will see what is available where. We are not going into it with a focus other than trying to build the team, especially at key positions that we think really, really good teams are strong at, and move forward that way."

It's known that general manager Mike Lombardi isn't a fan of Brandon Weeden based on his comments as a NFL Network analyst a year ago. What isn't known is the coaching staff's thoughts on Weeden, a first-round pick in 2012.

Asked about Weeden at the pre-draft news conference, Lombardi had neither good nor bad to say about the quarterback through three days of minicamp.

"I've been really busy," Lombardi said Thursday. "I've watched the tape (of Weeden). I am really studying on the draft at this point and watching the tape of the practice."

Only one team has drafted quarterbacks in the first round in consecutive years -- the 1982-83 Baltimore Colts (Art Schlichter and John Elway). Could the Browns become the second to do so?

Mayock certainly believes so: "When I look at Geno, I see a kid who's got everything you want to see in a franchise quarterback, but there's just too much bad tape. I would not take him this early; I would go for an edge or a corner. However, I really think Joe Banner might pull the trigger on the quarterback from West Virginia."

King has the Browns selecting Smith after trading with the San Diego Chargers to No. 11. "Don't let the smokescreen acquisition of Jason Campbell, a backup, fool you: the Browns want a QB in this draft, and they get one," King wrote.

My prediction? I still consider it a long shot that the Browns will take Smith at No. 6, although there is a better chance of them taking that gamble if they trade back. We'll find out what the Browns are really thinking when they're on the clock Thursday night.