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Browns Analysis: Buckle up for a wild ride until the NFL Draft ... and maybe when it starts

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The No. 1 pick comes with a spotlight and speculation.

The Browns’ track record brings skepticism.

So buckle up, Browns fans, the two weeks remaining before the NFL Draft begins April 27 will be filled with turbulence. Reports, rumors and innuendoes will only get louder, as the uncertainty of the Browns’ plans lingers.

A notable report came Tuesday night shortly after the Indians’ home opener ended. ESPN’s Adam Schefter, citing a source, tweeted the Browns hadn’t made up their mind about what to do with the top pick. “Split opinions. Some like Myles Garrett, some like Mitchell Trubisky.”

The presumption has been Garrett, a highly talented pass rusher out of Texas A&M, would be the choice. He’s ranked at the top of most analysts’ boards, while the consensus is no quarterback is worth the first pick.

Perhaps an executive from another team heard the Browns are torn. Perhaps the Browns want to cultivate trade interest. Perhaps they want to prepare everyone for the possibility of a stunner to start the draft.

The Browns aren’t saying, and executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown is unlikely to reveal anything when he meets with reporters next week.

He’s free to declare the organization’s love for a player and intention of taking him No. 1. But Brown said at the owners meeting he was going to wait until draft night to announce anything. The delay allows the team to process any late information, and wait for a trade offer too good to turn down.

The Schefter news was followed Wednesday by conflicting information.

Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman quoted a longtime NFC scout saying he’s constantly heard the Browns want to trade down for extra picks, and that coach Hue Jackson wants a quarterback No. 1 while the front office doesn’t. Tony Pauline of draftanalyst.com tweeted that Jackson wants Garrett but the front office prefers a quarterback. NFL Network’s Michael Silver, a close friend of Jackson, tweeted he doesn’t think Jackson wants a quarterback at No. 1.

This is why former Browns general manager Phil Savage called the run-up to the draft “silly season.”

If I’m going to believe anything, I’d lean toward Jackson wanting Garrett. He ruled out trading the No. 1 pick for a quarterback (read: Patriots backup Jimmy Garoppolo), and if the Browns are as hot for Garoppolo as I believe, why would Trubisky be worth the pick but not Garoppolo?

Conflict within an organization is natural, especially when it comes to quarterbacks. Everyone views a prospect through his own lens and consensus is rare.

In the Browns’ situation, analytics mean more to the front office than they do to the coaching staff. What’s important is reaching an agreement in time.

The organization’s biggest need is at quarterback, and the Browns won’t be a contender until they find a good one. They must be asking themselves if they can afford to wait until their pick at No. 12, or even later. If they decide they can’t, Garrett at No. 1 and a trade back into the top five could be the perfect solution.

The quality of the quarterbacks available this year is the mitigating factor.

“We lack the top-tier talent at the position this year,” NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah said on a conference call.

He isn’t buying the notion the Browns will pass on Garrett.

“I’d have to pick myself up off the floor first of all, and then my thought would be that they made a big mistake,” he said. “To pass on not only the best player in the draft, but the best player who’s also at a premier position, which you would put right behind quarterback in edge rusher, to push a quarterback all the way up the board I think would be a huge mistake.”

I still believe Garrett will be the pick because all of the best quarterbacks – Trubisky, Deshaun Watson, DeShone Kizer, Patrick Mahomes -- have serious question marks. The next-best option is trading down to add to the pile of picks.

But if the Browns love a quarterback, they could shock the world. It’s the only position that can trump player ratings and displace Garrett.

It’s too early to tell what the Browns will do. But brace yourselves, a lot can be said and written in two weeks.

Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him @scottpetrak on Twitter.



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