Wednesday, January 15, 2014

ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. projects Browns drafting QB Blake Bortles

Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has the Browns taking Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles with the fourth pick of the NFL draft on May 8. Kiper's first mock draft of the year, released Wednesday on, has Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel going to the Texans with the No. 1 overall pick. He has the Rams taking Texas A&M left tackle Jake Matthews second and the Jacksonville Jaguars taking South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney third. Following is Kiper's analysis of Bortles: 'Suffice to say, no coach in Cleveland makes this a pretty difficult projection. While there's plenty of debate in NFL circles regarding which QB in this class has the most upside in terms of overall ability, from a physical standpoint Bortles is at the top of the list. 'At 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, with not elite but good arm strength, and the ability to move both in the pocket and to make plays down the field as a runner, he has a chance to add value and eliminate negative plays with his mobility as he develops as a passer. 'It goes without saying that Cleveland will look to address its QB situation through the draft or via a trade, and this is potentially a good fit for Bortles. He's still somewhat limited as a progression passer and struggles with ball placement, and can also be rigid with his mechanics, but the presence of Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron gives any new QB here matchup threats to exploit. Cleveland is, for the first time in a while, a really attractive environment for a young QB to grow and succeed.' Bortles, 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, decided to skip his senior season at UCF. He completed 259 of 382 passes in 2013 for 3,581 yards and 25 touchdowns. He threw nine interceptions. In his career with the Knights, Bortles completed 585 of 891 passes for 7,598 yards with 56 touchdown passes and 19 interceptions. Kiper admits his mock draft might change dramatically. He said NFL evaluators he spoke to told him Manziel is the only quarterback that is 'certain' to be a top-five pick, but he isn't certain what kind of quarterback new Texans coach Bill O'Brien wants. The Rams have made it clear they would like to trade the second pick and Kiper acknowledged the Jaguars need a quarterback and might take one with the third pick. Kiper's mock draft has Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater going to Minnesota with the eighth pick. In addition to the fourth pick, the Browns have the 26th pick in the first round, which they acquired from the Colts in the Sept. 18 trade that sent running back Trent Richardson to Indianapolis. They have the third pick in the second round, giving them three of the first 35 picks. Kiper also has the Browns selecting Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde with the 26th pick. Turner to Vikings? Norv Turner might not be unemployed long. The Browns offensive coordinator for 2013, swept out the door when Rob Chudzinski was fired after one season, will interview for the same job under Vikings new head coach Mike Zimmer, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. The Vikings had to ask the Browns permission first. Chris Mortensen, Schefter's colleague at ESPN, is reporting former Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton is the leading candidate to take the same job with the Titans under their new coach, Ken Whisenhunt.

About the Author

Jeff has covered the Cleveland Browns since 1981. He also covers the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League and the Cleveland Gladiators in the Arena Football League. Reach the author at or follow Jeff on Twitter:@jsbrownsinsider.
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