Dec 30, 2013; San Antonio, TX, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) warms up before the game against the Texas Longhorns at Alamo Dome. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Mariota, other QBs, Draft Targets for Browns?

The Brian Hoyer/Johnny Manziel QB competition is over, at least until the end of Week 1. Neither seems to have won the competition as both players have struggled. The old NFL adage that “if you have 2 quarterbacks you have none” seems appropriate for the Browns at this time. Could another QB competition be on the offing next year as well? Could Marcus Mariota, Brett Hundley, Jameis Winston or another high level QB be drafted by the Browns in the first round next year?

What we posted here a couple weeks ago as a random ‘What If’ has now found its way into Peter King’s MMQB column:

And I think: Cleveland GM Ray Farmer could have two of the top five picks in the draft next April. The Browns have Buffalo’s first-round pick from the Sammy Watkins trade. Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston (if he comes out) or Brett Hundley … plus either a bookend tackle from a reportedly rich tackle crop next year, or a corner to team with Joe Haden. It’s way too early to project things like this, but two picks in the top five of any draft is gold—gold, Jerry, it’s gold!—and Farmer might just have made a golden deal to help the Browns of 2015 and beyond, even as the team faces another apparently lean year now.

Then I think: Manziel versus Mariota in training camp next July. I mean, the national press is going to rent the Courtyard in Berea for a month.

Update: King recently tweeted that he forgot about Justin Gilbert and will be updating the article:

As King noted it is very early to have any guesses as to what will happen with the season, with Manziel or in college football. It is possible a couple of the QBs listed do not even come out, though all but Winston are very likely to. It is possible that Manziel lights it up if/when he gets into the game. It is possible that Brain Hoyer does enough with a strong running game and a good/great defense to win too many games for a top pick.

The Bills pick is also up in the air. E.J. Manuel hasn’t looked good this off-season and could be a top level pick as well. Yet with Sammy Watkins, C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson the Bills have some talented playmakers that could make up for Manuel and a bad offensive line. Even without Kiko Alonso the Bills also still have a good defense that, like the Browns, could keep them in games.

While this is far to early to be a likely possibility it is important to note that many close to the team believe that Mariota would of been the Browns pick in this year’s draft had he come out. Many that I trust made it clear that the Browns had Mariota on top of their draft boards. It was likely that the Browns would of been willing to trade up to make sure they acquired him. Based on where they drafted Manziel it is obvious the value difference between the two QBs perceived values.

Quarterback competitions are problematic for teams generally speaking. They tend to divide attention, reps and player support. A competition between Manziel and a Top 5 pick could be off the charts problems. For Ray Farmer, Mike Pettine and Browns fans that can’t stop them from making the best choice they believe they have to make. Not drafting a QB or trading Manziel before the draft would be the easiest way to avoid this.

While early, how would you feel about King’s thoughts playing out in the next NFL Draft?

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