Oregon Ducks star quarterback Marcus Mariota would have been in the running as the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft had he decided to declare, because he’s better than the likes of Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles, who are also potential No. 1 picks. Teddy Bridgewater has always been the clear-cut, No. 1 option in my mind, but Mariota would have been my No. 2 guy due to his physical tools, underrated accuracy, and intangibles.
It’s going to be interesting to see what the Cleveland Browns do with the fourth pick in the draft, and most of the smoke was focused on Manziel back when Mike Lombardi and Joe Banner were around. Lombardi, of course, was replaced by assistant GM Ray Farmer yesterday, and Banner decided to step down and won’t have a role in the team’s decision-making process. Farmer is a very touted exec and deserves this opportunity (he was a candidate for the Miami Dolphins GM gig, and they reportedly liked him more than any of the others before he turned them down), especially since he seems to be more draft and football-savvy than Lombardi.
The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that Mariota was Farmer’s favorite QB on film before he decided to return to school, which was a decision that surprised people like me. The Browns have such a big need at QB that they won’t wait another year in the hopes that Mariota will be available (he could be the No. 1 pick next year if he can separate himself from Jameis Winston, or if Jameis chooses to stay at Florida State), so we’ll see who the Browns pick this year as their potential franchise QB. At this point, neither Rapoport nor anyone else is “sure” if Farmer likes Manziel.