BEREA, Ohio – Since Joe Haden arrived in Cleveland four years ago, he's watched a revolving door of quarterbacks lead the offense. Seven of them, actually, from Colt McCoy to Branden Weeden to Brian Hoyer.
But that doesn't mean he's hoping the Browns draft a quarterback with the No. 4 pick tonight.
Haden has a different prospect in mind that he believes would be the perfect addition to the Browns offense: Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
"If they took Sammy Watkins at four, how could anyone be pissed? He's an impact player. He's going to be real good. I think he's going to be special, elite," Haden told USA TODAY Sports.
I asked Haden how he thought Browns fans would react if the team picks an offensive tackle, perhaps Greg Robinson or Jake Matthews, with the No. 4 pick. Haden shook his head.
"Shoot, I don't know. I don't know if they'd be burning couches, but he'd have to come in here and be like Joe Thomas. That's all I'm saying," Haden said.
New Browns safety Donte Whitner returned home to Cleveland after three seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, and his experience playing in the NFC West has shaped the way he would like to see the Browns build their team.
It means defense, defense, defense, and a quarterback with the "it factor." Whitner would rarely say a nice thing about the Seattle Seahawks while he was with the Niners, but now that he's gone, Whitner uses the way the Seahawks functioned around Russell Wilson as the best example of how to build a winner.
That said, Whitner would be thrilled if the Browns were to draft quarterback Johnny Manziel.
"I just know what type of game plays and the things you can't teach that he'll bring to a football team. I know the type of chip he's going to have on his shoulder," Whitner told USA TODAY Sports.
And if not Manziel, Whitner too would love for the Browns to draft Watkins.
"I don't think I've ever even heard him speak, but when you watch him play, you can tell he's an explosive player. He's one of those Calvin Johnson, AJ Green type of guys that you don't want to miss out on," Whitner said.
Hoyer said he'll try to pay attention to the draft when the Browns are picking, but he'll be busy with his two young children at home. He's sure that whenever the Browns add a quarterback, he'll know.
And if his team were to draft one of the top receivers, like Watkins?
"I'll probably be waiting for him in Berea if that happens," Hoyer said.
Whitner will be at a draft event at the Browns' facility that wraps up about the time the team will make its first pick, and he's curious to see who it will be. Haden will be paying attention, too, especially to what quarterback winds up on the roster.
"Quarterback is definitely a big part, but if you just have a solid quarterback …. And Hoyer, he's solid, and then get other quarterbacks in there later," Haden said. "You can get [Derek] Carr later. I like [Zach] Mettenberger, you can get him later. There are these quarterbacks that will be able to come in and be starters in this league, they just might not be as high profile."
Ray Farmer won't be inviting any Cleveland Browns players to join him in the draft room tonight, but the first-year general manager has invited his players to share their opinions about the prospective players in this year's draft.
Farmer told USA TODAY Sports he appreciates these opinions, especially if his current players have done more research beyond just catching college highlights on television.
By Lindsay H. Jones