Have you heard the latest draft rumors on Mark Sanchez? Apparently only the Lions, Rams, Seahawks, Browns, Jaguars, 49ers, Jets, Redskins and Broncos are either in love, smitten or downright want to get in bed with the USC quarterback.
Is that all?
It seems every day rumors of a new team being interested in Sanchez emerge and while it’s easy to get caught up in all the pre-draft speculation, it would obviously be wise not to believe everything you hear. That said, with the draft quickly approaching, I’ve thoroughly convinced myself that Mark Sanchez will in fact be a Cleveland Brown.
Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire and there’s a ton of smoke coming out of Cleveland that new head coach Eric Mangini isn’t a big Brady Quinn fan. Along with daily Sanchez-is-going-here speculation, there have been just as many Quinn-will-be-traded-here rumors. Maybe Mangini and new GM George Kokinis are just throwing up smokescreens to keep other teams guessing at what their draft day plans are. Or maybe (and this seems more logical by the day) Mangini and Kokinis want to blow up the entire roster and start over and that’s why Kellen Winslow was traded to the Bucs, Braylon Edwards will soon be dealt to the Giants and Quinn will be jettisoned to parts unknown.
Read between the lines and you get the impression that Mangini would rather hold onto Derek Anderson than Brady Quinn. Anderson might not have as much upside as Quinn, but he has more starting experience and is just two years removed from a Pro Bowl season. He’s also only 25 years old and has the strong arm Mangini apparently covets to run his team’s offense. (Don’t forget in New York, Mangini eventually banished noodle-armed Chad Pennington last year in favor of big-armed Brett Favre.)
One would have to believe that the Browns want to replenish their pick stock after former GM Phil Savage went gonzo and traded away multiple draft selections last offseason. Getting a first round pick for Quinn would be ideal, but if Mangini truly wants to rid himself of the former Notre Dame alum, then who knows what Cleveland will be willing to accept in compensation. But the bottom line is that Quinn will be traded by draft day in order for the Browns to acquire more picks and to make room for Sanchez.
Getting back to Sanchez, the Browns will make him the No. 5 pick. Who else are they going to take? Brian Orkapo or Everette Brown? Maybe, the Browns do need another outside linebacker. Michael Crabtree? Maybe, the Browns will need a receiver with Donte Stallworth likely heading to prison and if Edwards is traded. Rey Maualuga? Maybe, but doubtful considering he’s an inside linebacker and Cleveland signed free agent Eric Barton this offseason, who played for Mangini in New York. B.J. Raji? Maybe, the Browns could use him in a rotation with fellow defensive tackle Shaun Rogers or use him at one of the end spots in a 3-4, although he’s a better fit inside.
All of the prospects mentioned above are possibilities, but you can make a strong argument that none of them are worthy of the top 5 pick. Sanchez might not be either, but if the Browns see a franchise-caliber quarterback in him down the road, then you better believe they’ll have no regrets taking him that high. So they trade Quinn, draft Sanchez at No. 5 and have him sit for a year or two behind Anderson until he’s ready to play.
This is all just speculation on my part of course, but the more I think about it, the more this scenario makes sense. Cleveland is essentially stuck in a tough spot with no clear-cut choice at No. 5 and again, they would love to acquire more draft picks. And if Mangini isn’t big on Quinn and doesn’t see Anderson as the long-term answer, than Sanchez makes a ton of sense for them in the first round. Plus, if they can acquire more selections, then they can still fill their defensive and wideout needs later in the draft. Hell, if they can convince a team like the Redskins (who clearly aren’t sold on Jason Campbell) to give them their first round pick for Quinn, then a guy like Brown might fall to them at No. 13. Would the ‘Skins be willing to give up their first round pick for Quinn? I don’t know, but anything is a possibility at this point.
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