BEREA, Ohio – As the father of two young children ages two and under, there will be little chance for Brian Hoyer to settle down on the couch tonight and watch the duration of the first round of the draft.
Not that he's really that interested.
Hoyer will be busy with bath time and bedtime stories as his bosses with the Cleveland Browns likely use one of their two first-round picks on a player who will arrive in Berea hoping to become the Browns' starting quarterback. It's a job that Hoyer, seven months removed from surgery to repair a torn ACL, currently holds, and one he has no plans to relinquish, regardless of where that rookie was selected in the draft, at No. 4 or No. 26 or No. 35 or later.
"I only played three games before I got hurt, so it's not like I had a full season under my belt for them to say, 'Hey, he's the guy we're going to go with.' I don't blame them for it," Hoyer told USA TODAY Sports. "No matter what happens in the draft, I'll have that chance to compete for the starting job, and if it comes down to that, I have the ultimate confidence in myself that no matter who they bring in here, I can beat them out."
The Browns haven't even made selected a quarterback yet but the competition to be the Week 1 starter has already begun.
As the general manager Ray Farmer, head coach Mike Pettine and other coaches crisscrossed the country to put at least 10 of the top quarterback prospects through private workouts, they created their own equivalent of a quarterbacking standardized test.
Each of the NFL hopefuls was put through the same throwing session, instructed to work through an identical script of throws and routes. When the coaches returned to Berea, Hoyer and Alex Tanney, went through the same workout. So did Vince Young and Tyler Thigpen when they were signed last week.
Hoyer aced that work out, and further impressed the Browns' new coaching staff during a voluntary mini-camp last week.
"There will be competition, but I think it will be very difficult, based on my evaluation of this year's draft class, it will be very difficult for anyone in this draft class to come in and beat [Hoyer] out. I really believe that," Pettine said. "There's that certain it factor he has. Just the way he's attacked his rehab, the way he's attacked learning a new offense. What jumped out was his accuracy. I think him going through the drill work that we had put the quarterbacks through in their workouts, and compared it to those guys – it was encouraging to see."
Pettine was coaching the Bills defense last season in the game against the Browns in which Hoyer was injured on what Hoyer described as a "fluke" play as he was hit while trying to slide at the end of a scramble.
The Browns won the three games Hoyer started last season (and won only one other game without him), giving Hoyer the confidence that he could indeed make it as a starting quarterback after previously being released by the Patriots (where he spent three seasons as Tom Brady's backup) and the Steelers and after a brief stint with the Arizona Cardinals.
But it would mean more to Hoyer if he could remain the starter here in Cleveland. His family had season tickets when he was a child, before the franchise moved away, and remained a Browns fan even though they did not renew their seats when the franchise returned in 1999.
It has given Hoyer a unique perspective on the years' of quarterback pains in Cleveland, dating back to when he was in high school and watched Tim Couch on television.
"I think getting to play last year. It was like, 'OK, I played for the Browns.' But it was only three games and then I got hurt," Hoyer said. "So to become the fulltime starter, that's the completion of the dream, to be that stabilizer of that position for this franchise. That's what I grew up dreaming about when I was playing in the backyard, pretending to be Bernie Kosar. That would be the ultimate goal for me, and that's what I've worked so hard for in this offseason, and it's definitely attainable."
By Lindsay H. Jones