Assigning Odds to the Cleveland Browns' Potential First-Round Picks

Will BurgeContributor IApril 18, 2014

Assigning Odds to the Cleveland Browns' Potential First-Round Picks

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    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    Nothing gets the blood pumping like some good old-fashioned gambling. Essentially, each NFL team is gambling when they select the players they think flourish during the draft. With that said, the Cleveland Browns might want to call a problem-gambler hotline.

    When it comes to the draft the Browns just can’t catch a break. Sometimes it is because of injury (Kellen Winslow Jr.), sometimes it is because of attitude (Braylon Edwards) and other times they are just flat-out terrible selections (Brady Quinn).

    With each new regime comes a new philosophy and it is time for general manager Ray Farmer to prove how sharp of a gambler he can be.

    If Farmer likes a quarterback, and he has said in the past that he does, then the new GM will make sure that prospect ends up on the Browns. If that guy is gone when they are ready to use their fourth overall pick then all bets are off.

    Which quarterback he likes remains a mystery. So let’s put some odds on five players who could legitimately end up in Cleveland when the fourth pick is announced on May 8. 

Blake Bortles: 3-1

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    I don’t know how Ray Farmer could pass up on Ben Roethlisberger 2.0 if he is available with the fourth overall pick. I doubt that Blake Bortles will still be on the board, but he is certainly one of the favorites to get chosen if he is.

    Bortles worked out for the Browns in early April and would make a lot of sense as their pick. He is a tall, big-armed quarterback who can take hits and move outside the pocket if needed.

    He comes from a smaller school (UCF) but that could benefit him in Cleveland. Lord knows they need an overcomer to reverse the trend of bad football.

    Pro Bowl receiver Josh Gordon still thinks the Browns are taking a quarterback, and he even threw in some analysis on Bortles to Fox Sports via SportsMole.com.

    "From talking with (Browns general manager) Ray Farmer, I'm still pretty sure we're going to take a quarterback.

    "Blake Bortles seems like a real tall, sturdy quarterback that might be able to withstand a strong conference like ours. He looks like he is able to battle attrition and stay healthy."

Johnny Manziel 3-1

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    The most polarizing player to come out of college since Tim Tebow will most likely be available when the Browns choose at four. Are they ready to bring the Johnny Manziel circus into Cleveland?

    It is impossible to separate the hype off the field with the performance on it. Those are not the only concerns, however. As ESPN’s Jon Gruden pointed out, Manziel has durability issues.

    Can he have sustained success in the NFL if he constantly opts to escape the pocket? Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is a great point of reference for Manziel. He is exciting but can he stay healthy enough to win in the long run?

    Despite all of that, Manziel is still a playmaking machine, which puts him right in the mix for the fourth overall pick. While I don’t think he would be rated as high as Bortles on the Browns draft board, he is more likely to still be available so that keeps their odds even.

Derek Carr 5-1

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    The reports of the Browns being enamored with Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr have been out there for months. The latest by Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman says the overriding feeling is that the Browns will take Carr.

    They love him. They really love him. The feeling with many in football is that Cleveland will take Carr with its 26th pick. Other quarterbacks are rising quickly, but he might be rising the fastest. He has charmed almost every team he's met with and his arm and accuracy are underrated. And no one seems to be scared of the fact he's related to epic draft bust David Carr, a notion that was definitely in play just a few months ago.

    Notice that he said they would take him with the 26th pick. I think it is pretty long odds that Carr is selected at No. 4 overall. It wouldn’t surprise me to see them move back up from No. 26 to snag him, though.

    Fourth overall just seems way too high for a quarterback who has issues dealing with pressure in the pocket. He has a great arm and accuracy but tends to throw off his back foot and panic when the pocket collapses.

    It was Ray Farmer who just ushered Brandon Weeden out of town, a guy who suffered from the exact same flaws.

    Unfortunately, if the Browns love Carr they may need to pull the trigger with their fourth pick. Sitting behind them are Oakland and Minnesota who both need passers. We all know about Oakland’s infatuation with big arms too.

Teddy Bridgewater 7-1

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    While the media keeps kicking around the possibility of the Browns drafting Manziel and Carr, there is still a long shot who has a chance of cashing in: Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

    Don’t rule out the prospect of the Browns selecting the guy who many believed for more than a year was the best quarterback prospect. Sometimes, during the NFL draft propaganda campaigns, it is best to look where there is no noise at all.

    Many analysts feel that Bridgewater’s stock is falling because of his poor pro day but that could mean value for a team like the Browns who have two picks. If he falls out of the top ten then teams will be looking to move up and grab him.

    If the Browns can snag a playmaker at another position and then get Bridgewater, either at 26 or by trading up, in the first round then I can’t see how anyone could be mad.

    Unfortunately, the more I read about how Bridgewater is going to tumble to the bottom of the first round the less I believe it. This is the season of deception.

Khalil Mack 20-1

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    The biggest long shot of the bunch has the chance to have the best NFL career. Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack looks to be a surefire Pro Bowl type player. He has the size, speed, intensity and production of all the great players at his position.

    It seems unlikely that Mack will make it to the fourth overall pick, but if for some reason he does then the Browns have to select him. He has the highest ceiling of any player in the draft and plays a position in which they desperately need young talent.

    Browns head coach Mike Pettine has made his admiration for Mack no secret and would love to have that weapon in his offense.

    Unfortunately, I could not find one single mock draft or report that ties Mack to Cleveland. That is because it is unlikely that he would fall past the third pick in the draft.

    I included him in this list, however, because he has the type of talent that teams might be willing to trade up to get. That includes the Browns.