Editor's note: Tony Grossi covers the Cleveland Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR.
Takeaways from Day 2 at the NFL Combine …
1. Tall tales: For the first time, Hue Jackson stated his physical preference for his next quarterback. “We all have a profile for what we like a quarterback to be and I think you kind of work through that. I like a guy that's a little taller,” Jackson said. How tall? “Six-two, because I think a guy has to be about 6-2 to play in this league. The special guys -- I don’t want to take anything away from any of the other quarterbacks—there have been guys who have played in this league who are not 6-2, but the majority of the guys who have played are 6-2 or a little bit better, and that’s just what I like in a quarterback.” It so happened that Jackson spoke about an hour after quarterbacks were measured on Thursday at the Combine. And each of the top four prospects measured 6-2 or taller. Clemson’s Deshaun Watson: 6-2 ½, 221 pounds. North Carolina’s Mitch Tribusky: 6-2 1/8, 222. Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer: 6-4 ¼, 233. Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes: 6-2, 220. Tribusky, of Mentor, was rumored to come in shorter than 6-2, but that proved false. “That’s great for him,” Jackson said with a chuckle. So I asked Jackson if 6-2 was his preference all along, then how do we account for Cody Kessler (6-1 1/4, 215)? His answer: “You have to play the hand you’re dealt.”
2. Pryor update: It’s sounding as if the hold-up in a new contract for free agent-to-be receiver Terrelle Pryor is a difference of opinion of what he is worth. Absent a deal, that would seem fairly obvious. But the perception, or hope, was that Pryor’s avowed loyalty to Jackson and the Browns would help bridge that gap. But with the Browns passing on tagging Pryor and EVP Sashi Brown’s expectation that Pryor will entertain other offers, it sure sounds like the Browns don’t feel the market will bear what Pryor is asking for. On Wednesday, Brown said he is hoping to find “some middle ground with Terrelle to bring him back and have him as a Cleveland Brown for a long time.” Jackson echoed that pointed remark on Thursday. Jackson said, “Obviously, Terrelle was a huge piece of what we did a year ago. Obviously, we’re working through that. And it has to work both ways for all involved – for him, fur us and hopefully it will. Hopefully, we can get that done soon.”
3. The right right tackle: Other than quarterback, the biggest need on the Browns’ offense might be right tackle. Incumbent Austin Pasztor appears headed to free agency. Cam Erving, Shon Coleman and Spencer Drango are in-house candidates. But Jackson acknowledged of the position, “We need to improve it … maybe we’ll find somebody in free agency or find somebody that can play the position in the draft.” Offensive tackle happens to be one of the weaknesses of this draft. And the position is not abundant in free agency, and the best usually come at a premium cost. The best free agent right tackle this year is Baltimore’s Ricky Wagner, who has been inconsistent but has started 45 games over the last three years. Wagner, 27, could net more than the $6.5 million per year average that Mitchell Schwartz signed for last year – and the Browns thought that was excessive. “We’re trying to get Ricky back,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh told me. “He’s one of the three guys that we’re trying to get back and re-sign. They need to do what they need to do, do their due diligence, check out what their market value’s going to be. We’re just competing against the market right now. We do have an edge. They want to be Ravens. They love it in Baltimore. We’re very competitive, I’ll tell you that, what we’re offering. We’re negotiating and Ricky definitely is a guy we want back.”