NFL

Tough choice: Browns mulling 4 quarterbacks with No. 1 pick

(AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)

By TOM WITHERS

AP Sports Writer

CLEVELAND (AP) As far as Cleveland fans are concerned, only one quarterback fits all the essential criteria for the Browns to draft him with the No. 1 overall pick.

His last name? Darnoldallenrosenmayfield.

With the NFL draft quickly approaching, the team's die-hard supporters, and there have been few groups in NFL history to suffer like this one has the past two seasons, are divided over which of the top four college QBs the team should select.

There's the Sam Darnold contingent, which sees the two-year Southern Cal starter as the safest choice, the one who checks all the positive boxes. Josh Allen's supporters point to the big Wyoming QB's high-velocity arm, which could help him knife passes through those tricky home winds off Lake Erie.

Josh Rosen's backers love the UCLA star's accuracy and his cerebral game. And of course there's the Baker Mayfield army, which dismiss his 6-foot frame and believe Oklahoma's swaggering Heisman Trophy winner is the next Brett Favre.

Oh, and let's not forget the fans who feel Penn State running back Saquon Barkley is worthy of going first and that the Browns can wait until No. 4 to get their quarterback.

But while there's no clear consensus between fans as the Browns prepare for a franchise-changing draft, general manager John Dorsey and his staff will have presumably reached an accord by the time Commissioner Roger Goodell is handed their card on the stage at AT&T Stadium.

If not, well, these are the bumbling Browns.

Cleveland's inability to find a franchise quarterback - they've had 28 starters since 1999 - is the biggest reason for the team's sustained misery. And once again they have the chance to correct the problem after passing on Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson in the past two drafts.

Dorsey, who as Kanas City's GM got the Chiefs turned around with some solid drafts, has been aggressive in fixing mistakes by previous Cleveland regimes. Since December, he's traded for QB Tyrod Taylor and Pro Bowl receiver Jarvis Landry, revamped the secondary and spent months scouting the top quarterbacks.

He knows what he's looking for.

"The only thing I really care about is do the guys win?" he said "Does he have accuracy? Does he have a strong arm? Can he throw the ball in the red zone and in tight windows? Can he drive the ball? At the end of the game, does he win? That is kind of what I look for."

TRADE WINDS

Dorsey insists he's keeping his options open, and that he'd trade the top pick for the right package. "My phone always rings," he said. And with several teams in the market for a quarterback, it's likely the Browns will entertain offers. However, that doesn't mean Dorsey will make a deal.

The Browns remain haunted by their decision to trade first-round picks with Philadelphia and Houston the past two years, swaps that cost them Wentz and Watson.

HANDY MAN

Dorsey raised some eyebrows last week when he cited the importance of hand size as one of his top criteria in selecting a quarterback. Cleveland's inclement weather can make gripping the ball a challenge, and therefore the bigger the hand, the better.

Using hands as an exclusive measuring stick, Allen (10 1/8 inches) would be Dorsey's favorite over Rosen (9 7/8), Darnold (9 3/8) and Mayfield (9 1/4).

DYNAMIC DUO

The top pick isn't the only tough choice for the Browns, who may be torn at No. 4 between taking Barkley (if he's still available) or North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb.

The 6-foot-4, 270 pound Chubb would be a perfect complement to Myles Garrett, last year's top overall pick who had a solid rookie season despite being slowed by an ankle injury. Chubb led the ACC with 10 sacks last season, and the thought of having to block him and Garrett would give an NFL offensive coordinator nightmares.

"I would be thrilled to have a guy like that because he fits all of the models we talk about," Dorsey said. "He is a good football player. He is a man of character. He would be great in the locker room. Really, he is a super kid."

HITS, MISSES AND BARGAINS

Garrett was a smart pick, but the Browns haven't been so savvy in recent years. Of the team's 11 first-round selections since 2012, only four are still with the team - and three were selected last year.

Wide receiver Corey Coleman (No. 15 in 2016) has struggled with injuries and inconsistency. The Browns did find a late-round gem that year in linebacker Joe Schobert (No. 99 overall), who made the Pro Bowl in his second season.

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Updated April 24, 2018


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