Kiper: Browns must draft QB

Whether it be in the later rounds or one of the top three prospects, Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater or Blake Bortles, at No. 4 overall, the Cleveland Browns need to address the quarterback position in the 2014 NFL Draft.

At least, that is the opinion of ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr., who recently held a conference call with the national media.

"I just think they have to draft a quarterback," Kiper said. "It doesn't have to be at four. If they don't like the guy that's there, or don't like any of these three enough, I get that, but you've got to come out with a quarterback. (Brian) Hoyer's coming off of an injury, so you don't know what you have with him. They've got to get better at quarterback, significantly better at quarterback than they were last year or they don't have a chance of getting out of the cellar."

According to Kiper, drafting a quarterback could allow the Browns to close the gap between them and the other three teams in the AFC North Division, all of whom have been to the playoffs -- with Pittsburgh and Baltimore advancing to the Super Bowl -- multiple times in the last five years under the direction of established signal-callers.

"If you like any one of the three and you're Cleveland, you've got to take him just because of the need at that position and the fact that you're in a division with (Pittsburgh's Ben) Roethlisberger, (Baltimore's Joe) Flacco and (Cincinnati's Andy) Dalton," Kiper said. "You can't be a distant fourth at quarterback and expect to be a playoff team.

"If you don't have a quarterback, it's not like the '80s and '90s where you could live with that. You've got to have it now, especially in a division with those three, particularly, Roethlisberger and Flacco."

Should the Browns elect to pass on a quarterback with the No. 4 overall pick in the draft, Kiper believes the team could help the signal-caller by adding a playmaking wide receiver in Clemson's Sammy Watkins.

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Watkins entered the NFL Draft after a record-breaking performance against Ohio State in the Orange Bowl. In Clemson's 40-35 win over the Buckeyes, Watkins caught 16 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns.

On the season, Watkins gained 1,464 yards and 12 touchdowns on 101 catches.

"Put him opposite Josh Gordon with (tight end Jordan) Cameron and then, you have something," Kiper said. "Then, you can come back at 26 and maybe look at Derek Carr from Fresno State or Jimmy Garoppolo from Eastern Illinois, or wait till the second round to take Carr, Garoppolo, or (Alabama's A.J.) McCarron."

Even with the addition of Ben Tate through free agency, Kiper believes the Browns could bring in another running back in the draft to be a part of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's scheme.

And Kiper said former Towson star, Terrance West could be a late-round steal after the 5-foot-11, 223-pounder proved to be a workhorse rusher who gained 2,468 yards and scored 40 touchdowns on 391 carries for a team that advanced to the NCAA's Football Championship Sub-divison Championship Game this past season.

"Terrance West almost carried that Towson University team to the I-AA Championship Game," Kiper said. "He had a heck of a career. On ability, he should've been at Florida State, North Carolina. He should've been in the ACC, could've been in the Big Ten and done a great job. Terrance West is a guy that, on day three of the draft, is going to come in and help a football team an awful lot."


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