Browns Targeting a Read-Option Quarterback?

Ryan McCrystalFeatured ColumnistMarch 29, 2013

TUCSON, AZ - NOVEMBER 23:  Quarterback Matt Scott #10 of the Arizona Wildcats throws a pass during the college football game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Arizona Stadium on November 23, 2012 in Tucson, Arizona.   The Sun Devils defeated the Wildcats 41-34.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

As soon as the Browns ended the Pat Shurmur/Tom Heckert era, Brandon Weeden's fate was sealed. 

New regimes bring in new quarterbacks, especially when the incumbent is a 29-year-old coming off a disappointing rookie year. 

Browns president Joe Banner recently told The Plain Dealer that Weeden will begin the season as their starter, but will be pushed for the job by Jason Campbell. 

Despite the presence of Weeden and Campbell, however, the Browns are doing their homework on the 2013 class of quarterbacks. 

The Browns have arranged private workouts with three prospects: West Virginia's Geno Smith, Florida State's E.J. Manuel and Arizona's Matt Scott. 

It's difficult to draw conclusions about individual workouts— after all, there's no guarantee the workout went well—but assumptions can be made based on the type of players the team is evaluating. 

In this case, the fact that the Browns have met with the only three legitimate read-option quarterbacks in this class is certainly noteworthy.  Smith, Manuel and Scott posted the three fastest times in the 40-yard dash at the combine among quarterbacks.

Head coach Rob Chudzinski worked with Cam Newton in Carolina over the past two seasons and implemented some read-options plays into his offense. It's possible that Banner brought Chudzinski to Cleveland specifically for his ability to redesign the offense.

So which of the three quarterbacks is most likely to land in Cleveland?

Smith is a long shot. He appears to be a top-10 lock and the moves the Browns have made this offseason seem to indicate that they aren't ready to take another quarterback in the first round. 

If the Browns drafted Smith, they would need to trade Weeden, which seems unlikely at this point. 

E.J. Manuel is a realistic possibility, but it depends on how far he falls on draft day.

Manuel could come off the board in the late first round if a team such as the Eagles or Bills decides to trade back up to ensure at shot at landing him. Since the Browns don't own a second round pick, they're unlikely to be able to make that move if they want Manuel. 

That leaves Matt Scott as the most realistic option. 

Scott only has one year of starting experience and is more of a project than Manuel or Smith. As a result, he's likely to last until the third day of the draft where the Browns may be willing to bring him aboard. 

In the fourth or fifth round, the Browns could select Scott and stash him on the bench as the third-string quarterback behind Weeden and Campbell.

With little risk involved, the Browns would be free to draft another quarterback in 2014 if he fails to quickly develop. But if Smith flourishes under the guidance of Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner, the Browns could come away with one of the steals of the draft. 

Even if the Browns miss out on all three prospects, let's not forget their obvious interest in a mobile quarterback at this time next year. Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater and Clemson's Tajh Boyd fit the mold and are potential first-round picks in the 2014 draft.