- Coley Harvey, ESPN Staff Writer
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Good afternoon. Coley Harvey, ESPN.com's Cincinnati Bengals reporter, checking in here. Pat's off for a couple of days, and until he comes back later this week, you might see one of his fellow AFC North reporters check in to keep the wheels of the Cleveland Browns blog greased.
To that end, I'll pose a question: Should the Browns draft a quarterback with their No. 4 overall pick?
Now before you go off on me about asking such a seemingly ridiculous, probably over-asked (at this point) question, bear with me. Given some of the news of the day -- the news that general manager Ray Farmer isn't planning on attending Johnny Manziel's pro day -- I think there's a little merit to asking this. Maybe a better question is, do you think Farmer's decision to stay away from College Station, Texas, will have any bearing on the Browns' decision to draft a quarterback in the first round?
"A pro day of orchestrated throws, I don't know what that tells you," Farmer said to reporters at the owners' meetings in Orlando, Fla., on Monday. "It's a piece of it that people blow up into this great thing. I went to a lot of games and practices this fall. I've seen them throw the ball. I've seen them perform in a lot of ways. So it's not about watching them throw the ball, watching the ball come off their hands. A lot of those things have already been addressed."
Some of you may recall replying to a similar poll back in February. Pat asked you to pick the player you believed the Browns would and probably should select. Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins was the runaway favorite, claiming 56 percent of the vote.
But thoughts can change. Back then, for instance, Bridgewater and Bortles hadn't had their pro days. Now that they have, perhaps your opinions have tweaked slightly. Bortles seemed to do everything right last week at UCF while Bridgewater, by most accounts, fell apart at Louisville.
Also, when the original poll question was asked, free agency hadn't arrived and the Browns still were thinking of ways to shore up the receiver position. Since then, though, Andrew Hawkins has come into the fold from Cincinnati, giving the Browns at least one body at the position.
My personal opinion on who Cleveland should draft? The best overall player available. To me, that will be Watkins.
With Watkins and Hawkins added to the mix, the Browns could end up having arguably the fastest receiving corps in the league. Josh Gordon, Greg Little and Travis Benjamin already will be back, and could form quite the playmaking group if paired with players like Watkins and Hawkins. Cleveland could be really tough offensively.
To be even tougher, though, the Browns will need someone to throw the ball to all those receivers.
Before he got injured last season, Brian Hoyer had me in his fan club. I was impressed with the way he handled his three starts, particularly with the way he countered the Bengals' eventual third-ranked defense in a Week 4 win. He and Jordan Cameron completely confounded Cincinnati.
While Hoyer and Alex Tanney alone aren't the answers to Cleveland's quarterback quandary, I'm not sure the group of quarterbacks who will be around for drafting at No. 4 will be perfect fits to jump right in and start right away, either. That's especially the case if Bortles is already gone to the Texans before the No. 4 pick even gets placed on the clock. Right now, he appears to be the best quarterback of this mostly down quarterback class.
Perhaps if Bridgewater or Manziel slip all the way to 26th a case could be made for taking one of them then since getting a signal-caller remains a pressing need. But when it comes to that No. 4 pick, you've got to make sure you're drafting a special player. You've to make sure you're bringing along a player who will contribute right away. In my eyes -- eyes that have seen him play live twice -- Watkins still ought to be the man at No. 4 for the Browns.