2015 NFL DRAFT

2013 NFL Draft: Browns let it be known they're Geno Smith admirers

By Jeff Reynolds | NFLDraftScout.com

Add Cleveland to a rapidly expanding list of NFL admirers for the top-ranked quarterback in the 2013 draft.

The forecast this time of year calls for 100 percent chance of smokescreens, and many teams with top-10 draft picks are predictably floating their verve for West Virginia's Geno Smith.

Five weeks and two days before the 2013 NFL Draft, and at least seven teams have made their interest in the top quarterback in the class known publicly.

The Browns arranged a private workout with Smith. Same time, coach Rob Chudzinski claims he still hasn't watched tape of Smith. Perhaps we're to believe he's leaving that to CEO Joe Banner and GM Mike Lombardi, who called drafting Brandon Weeden 22nd overall in 2012 a "panicked distaster."

For the purpose of this walk-through, let's take the bait.

Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Tuesday at the AFC coaches breakfast that it's too early to rule out Smith. He wouldn't say whether he had Smith graded close to where he had Donovan McNabb in 1999, but Reid vowed that he does believe Smith "is a good quarterback." That's hardly over-the-top interest. And after trading for Alex Smith and signing Chase Daniel, we can't believe Reid is head over heels for a quarterback in this lot. But it's enough to put doubt in the minds of the team holding the No. 2 pick.

Jacksonville held an extensive on-spot, informal interview with Smith last week in Morgantown. It's the same tact, grading reaction to the unrehearsed, coach Ron Rivera and the Carolina Panthers used to determine Cam Newton warranted the No. 1 pick two years ago.

Oakland, which has the third overall pick, is unsettled at quarterback and interest in Smith had been rumored since the combine last month. On Tuesday, coach Dennis Allen confirmed Smith is an option the Raiders will consider.

The Eagles, who hold the fourth pick, sent everyone but the mayor to Morgantown eight days ago. Owner Jeff Lurie, GM Howie Roseman and head coach Chip Kelly were on hand ahead of Smith's pro day to run him through one part endurance test and one part passing/accuracy exercise.

Detroit at No. 5 has been silent, and with Matt Stafford's contract extension around the corner, that's what we'd expect.

Now introducing the Cleveland quandary. If the Browns have sincere interest in Geno Smith, they likely have to move to get him. That's problematic. For several reasons.

Selling a fan base on moving up with the intent of drafting a quarterback 11 months after said fan base watched Washington trump Cleveland with a trade package for Robert Griffin III will be touchy territory. No, Lombardi can't get caught up in the sensitivities that arise over the err of past regime's ways. But it's a raw wound of which Banner will be mindful.

Cleveland doesn't have a second-round pick (spent in the supplemental draft on WR Josh Gordon, another player Lombardi viewed as a dud). It would almost certainly have to part with its 2013 third-rounder to move up a few spots. Does it make business or football sense to give up one-third of your draft to land Smith? If you believe he's a franchise quarterback, it just might.

The crowd doesn't stop with Cleveland. Arizona (seventh) and Buffalo (eighth) are universally viewed by NFLDraftScout.com as the franchises most likely to be shopping in the QB aisle early. On this topic, GM Buddy Nix -- who attended Smith's pro day -- doesn't care who is listening, he's pining for the Bills to score a franchise quarterback. Overeager puts it lightly, and it would be a mild upset if Nix wasn't devising ways to get to the front of the checkout lane.

 
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