<
>

Browns get first good look at QB Carson Wentz this week

New coach Hue Jackson and new director of football operations Sashi Brown will head the Cleveland Browns' delegation to Mobile, Alabama, this week, where the first step in a most important evaluation will take place.

At the Senior Bowl, Jackson and Brown will get their first up-close and personal look at Carson Wentz, the mysterious but talented quarterback from North Dakota State.

If the Browns truly are moving on from Johnny Manziel, the evaluation to find a franchise quarterback must begin anew. While the team has been noncommital, all outside indicators point toward Manziel not being back. The words of owner Jimmy Haslam ring loud. The day the 2015 season ended and Haslam was asked about the team's quarterback situation, he pointedly mentioned that the Browns have the second overall pick in the draft.

Conventional wisdom has Jared Goff of Cal and Memphis' Paxton Lynch as the best two quarterbacks available in this year's draft.
 Wentz is the wild card.

He played in the FCS against teams like Weber State, Southern Illinois and Missouri State. He threw for 5,115 yards, 45 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 42 games, and ran for 13 more touchdowns. This season, his team went 13-2 and won the FCS championship. But in that game against Jacksonville State, Wentz threw for 197 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

Wentz will work under the watchful eye of Dallas coach Jason Garrett, who will coach the North team. That will give the Cowboys a good look at a position in which they need depth behind Tony Romo.

But every team will have coaches and scouts at the practices and be able to evaluate Wentz in live competition against the better draft-eligible players.

The outside view says that it's folly to even think of Wentz as the possible second pick in the draft. Given his competition, he would need time to make a leap similar to going from Class A to the major leagues in baseball.

But crazier things have happened in the draft.

Both Mel Kiper and Todd McShay have Wentz as the third-best quarterback, with Kiper calling Wentz his fastest riser on the draft board.

"From everything I saw of Wentz on video and then talking to people in the league, he's big -- 6-5, 231 -- he's got a strong arm, he's very athletic," Senior Bowl director and ESPN analyst Phil Savage told Yahoo Sports. "He's in an offense that's more conventional to the NFL, rather than all of this spread type of stuff. Even though he's coming from the FCS, he's got a lot of traits that people think will carry over to the NFL."

The Browns have been flailing at choosing a quarterback for 16 years. They have a veteran in Josh McCown, but need a reliable young quarterback to groom.

They have the second and 32nd picks in the draft.

They need to get this quarterback thing right. Finally.

It starts this week in Mobile, Alabama.