Mailbag: Hoyer likely will start for Cleveland in 2014

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Is Brian Hoyer going to be the starting quarterback for the 2014 Cleveland Browns?
– Jim in Pittsburgh

Yes, with the Browns not picking up Matt Schaub, I believe that clinches Hoyer as the starter (barring an injury). Even with the ongoing trend of young guys starting immediately, I just don’t believe that the Browns will go down that route once again.  If you look at quarterbacks who have started for the team as a rookie (Tim Couch, Colt McCoy, Brandon Weeden, etc.), none of them have worked out.  Therefore, even if the Browns do end up drafting a quarterback with that No. 4 overall pick, I still think it would be a wise decision to have Hoyer start regardless. Performance-wise, he hasn’t given the team any reason not to start him (3-0 in games that he’s started), and it gives a young rookie time to sit and learn behind a veteran instead of being thrust into game action.

Who should the Browns take with the #4 overall pick?
– Ben in Cleveland

I’ve always been extremely high on Teddy Bridgewater, and I’m going to stick with him as my top option at the No. 4 spot. First off, I think quarterback is the position to draft at #4, regardless of who is available, due to how great the position of need is. In my mind, I like Bridgewater the most out of all of the quarterbacks in this draft class, despite his less-than-stellar pro day. Bridgewater is the best pocket passer of anyone in the draft, and at the same time has shown great awareness and the ability to escape if absolutely necessary. His greatest attribute by far is his patience and his unwillingness to be easily and quickly flushed out of the pocket. Of all the top QBs in this draft class, he is the most comfortable in the pocket under pressure – and that’s something that you just can’t simulate in any pro day or combine event.

What grade do you give Ray Farmer in his first free agency as GM?
– Henry in Euclid

I’ll give him a B+, and for the most part, I was a fan of many of his offseason moves. The two best moves that he made were the acquisitions of Karlos Dansby and Ben Tate. With Dansby, Farmer did a great job of replacing D’Qwell Jackson, and I believe he actually upgraded the position. Dansby is at the top of his game right now, and fits perfectly into Mike Pettine’s need for an athletic and versatile linebacker. With Tate, Farmer filled one of the greatest needs on the entire team, and Farmer was able to acquire him for what I believe is a steal.  The team is paying him $6.2 million for two-years, which is low-risk and high-reward.  He has had injury problems during his career, but if he can overcome those, he could emerge as a top-15 running back in the NFL. Now the main move that keeps Farmer from getting an A is the Andrew Hawkins deal.  Hawkins really hasn’t proven himself as a receiver in the NFL (955 yards and 4 TDs in 4 seasons). Therefore, I think a four-year deal for $13.6 million is way too much for a guy whose stats don’t match the contract.

I don’t care what anyone says, we need Johnny Manziel! Do you think the Browns still want him?
– Sarah in Cali

Honestly, I don’t think the Browns even know who they want at this point in time.  With that being said, I believe that Manziel is definitely still in the mix, but so is seemingly every other quarterback in the draft class. Ray Farmer has told the media that he will not attend Manziel’s pro day, but that the team is planning to privately work out Manziel at a later date. However, the Browns did also say that they were also planning to privately work out Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Derek Carr, Aaron Murray and Jimmy Garoppolo among many others. So after all that, the short answer is yes, the Browns still want Johnny Manziel. The thing is that they also want many other quarterbacks in the class as well, and their No. 1 right now will probably be 100% different than their No. 1 when the May 8 draft comes around.

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