- Pat McManamon, ESPN Staff Writer
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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine emphasized that he doesn’t believe the team absolutely needs to draft a quarterback in the Top 10 to win.
That and some glowing words about Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins highlighted Pettine’s meeting with the media at the NFL combine.
“We’re not locked into saying we have to take a quarterback early in the draft,” Pettine said Saturday. “Look at the final four in the NFL last year. You had s sixth-round pick, which is an absolute anomaly, in [Tom] Brady, and the first pick in the draft in Peyton Manning. Then you saw that the Niners and the Seahawks did it going another way. I think there’s a lot of different ways to win in this league.”
That being said, Pettine admitted that quarterback is a priority for the Browns (as is running back). Which leaves the Browns 10 weeks to decide if they want to take a quarterback or another position fourth overall. He said he wants an all-weather team with an all-weather quarterback, but he said the player doesn’t have to fit a mold.
“When I looked at Kyle’s background, he was able to succeed with a Matt Schaub and an RG III,” Pettine said, referring to offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. “I don’t think you can be further apart on the spectrum of a skill set. That gives me confidence that whoever we take, whoever ends up fitting that position, will be a player who gives us the best chance to win.”
He did not get into specifics about any of the quarterbacks, saying he hadn’t studied enough. But one player he did discuss was Sammy Watkins, the fleet receiver from Clemson.
“Explosive athlete,” he said “Any time you can add somebody to your team who can score points and make explosive plays, that’s what the NFL is all about. Being a defensive coach, you think about playing great defense and running the football. I don’t think you can win that way anymore in the NFL. You have to have players who when they get their hands on the ball are special, and I think he falls into that category.”
“That’s the last thing I worry about,” he said emphatically. “It’s the last thing. You can’t have enough explosive athletes that can score points for you. You can’t have enough. If that’s our biggest problem is worrying about it, then where do I sign up.”