There was a point early in the offseason when it seemed like the Browns were very much interested in drafting Johnny Manziel with the No. 4 pick and making him the team's next franchise quarterback. But now that president Joe Banner and general manager Mike Lombardi have been run off and replaced by Ray Farmer, the team may have their sights on another passer -- and it's not Blake Bortles or Teddy Bridgewater.
"The one thing about the combine is, you get there, you're around all your contacts, a lot of different NFL people," NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah told The Dan Patrick Show Wednesday (via NFL.com). "And it had been so out there that the Browns loved Manziel under the previous regime, and I talked to enough people that firmly believe that that was a total smokescreen. ...
"Their guy," Jeremiah continued, "is Derek Carr and they're going to take a different player with the fourth pick and they want to take Derek Carr with their second one. ... I heard that from several different places."
To recap: The Browns like Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr, the younger brother of 2002 first-overall pick David Carr, but not fourth overall. Instead, they'll hope he's still on the board when they're on the clock with the No. 26 pick.
If this sounds familiar it's because in 2012, the Browns traded up to No. 3 to take Trent Richardson and then drafted quarterback Brandon Weeden 22nd overall. That proved to be an unmitigated disaster; Richardson was shipped to the Colts last September (for the aforementioned No. 26 pick, so there's that), and Weeden will probably be released in the coming weeks.
As for Manziel, he said before the draft that if the Texans' passed on him with the top-overall selection "It would be the worst decision they ever made." But if it does happen, he would gladly embrace the Browns should he end up there.
"If something happens, and it's the Cleveland Browns, I'm going to pour my heart out for the Dawg Pound and try to win a Super Bowl for Cleveland," he said. "I don't care if they've had 20 starting quarterbacks since 1999. I'm going to be the 21st and the guy that brought them the Super Bowl."
If Jeremiah is right, the Browns aren't interested.
In case you're wondering, in the latest NFLDraftScout.com/CBSSports.com mock draft, the experts have the Browns taking Bortles, Bridgewater or Manziel fourth overall and going with guard Xavier Su'a-Filo, linebacker C.J. Mosley, wideout Kelvin Benjamin or offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio with the 26th selection.