Jeremy Fowler of ESPN reports that the NFL office has no problem with soon-to-be Browns quarterbacks coach Kevin O’Connell working with Oregon QB Marcus Mariota in preparation for the draft before joining their staff.
On Tuesday, Albert Breer of NFL Media brought up an interesting point about Oregon QB Marcus Mariota and the Browns.
Mariota has been working with Kevin O’Connell since mid-January doing quarterback drills, which is notable given that O’Connell is expected to be joining the Browns’ coaching staff as their new quarterbacks coach.
On top of that, Breer added that Browns GM Ray Farmer has “shown a liking” for Mariota, and they have two first-round picks — No. 12 and No. 19 overall — to work with this year.
Breer expects Farmer to get “good intel” from O’Connell from working with the Heisman Trophy quarterback.
Just a day later, a high-level executive pointed out that the Browns appear to be exploiting a loophole by having O’Connell work with Mariota before eventually hiring him.
“So let me get this straight,” the executive tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. “The Browns can have their quarterbacks coach in waiting work with a player, teach him the entire offense, etc., but we can’t even talk to any potential draft pick until the Combine per league rules? Something is wrong here.”
O’Connell has yet to be officially hired by the Browns, but numerous reports have confirmed that will end up getting the position.
Meanwhile, multiple reports have said previously that the Browns are expected to consider moving up for a quarterback in this year’s draft, so this shouldn’t come as a big surprise.
Sources tells Jason Cole of the Bleacher Report that the Browns are expected to seriously consider trading up for a quarterback in this year’s draft, even though they spent a first-round pick on Johnny Manziel just a year ago.
According to Cole, Cleveland has already been weighing the idea because they like Mariota “so much” and FSU QB Jameis Winston “too a lessor degree.”
Cole mentions that the belief within the Browns is that must find a true franchise quarterback, and there are already doubts about whether Manziel will ever be that type of player.
Given the issues with Manziel and Josh Gordon, Cole mentions that there is a “tremendous amount of fear” for their future, which is why they are giving strong consideration to the idea of trading up for one of the top two quarterback prospects.
Assuming the Buccaneers take either Mariota or Winston at No. 1 overall, the Titans would be in a perfect position to auction off the No. 2 overall pick.
This will definitely be an interesting situation to watch in the coming months.