Shanahan key in QB evaluations

Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and head coach Mike Pettine will try to improve the team's offensive rankings in 2014.

Mark Duncan/AP Photo

BEREA, Ohio — One of the key people in the Browns organization, in terms of offensive thinking, is offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.

Mike Pettine has spent his entire NFL career on the defensive side of the ball and GM Ray Farmer played defense as a player.

Pettine was an all-state quarterback in high school but he doesn’t think that makes him a guru.

"I was a former quarterback but that doesn’t make me a quarterback expert," Pettine said. "I have my opinions. I got to spend time with all of them, a good amount of time and we talk about the ‘it’ factor a lot with the quarterbacks.

"The type of personality, the traits you want to have in your quarterback," he said. "A guy that’s confident, assertive and poised and can handle teammates when they need to be handled in the offensive huddle. That was more what I was looking for than necessarily the mechanics part that falls more in the wheelhouse of Kyle and (quarterbacks coach) Dowell (Loggains) in what they ‘re looking for in terms of evaluation. It was a great process and we have done a good job in getting the board stacked and hopefully it plays out the way we want it to on draft day."

So does that mean Pettine will defer to Shanahan’s opinion as to what quarterbacks the Browns will bring in.

"As he should, as he should," Pettine said. "I’m going to defer to an expert. I can say what a good one looks like, but in terms of why he is good, in terms of the technical part of it, I’ll certainly defer to him and Dowell."

Pettine said despite bringing in Vince Young and Tyler Thigpen, traditionally more mobile quarterbacks, Shanahan has proven he can work with all types of quarterbacks in his system.

"In terms of the system, one of the reasons I hired (Shanahan) is because his system is flexible," Pettine said. "He was able to be productive with Matt Schaub, who wouldn’t be on your list of mobile quarterbacks in the NFL and he was able to have a historic year with Robert Griffin, who’s probably the most mobile.

"He’s flexible in what he can do as far as different quarterbacks because they come in all shapes and sizes," he said. "I think we’ve gotten to the point that we’re all on the same page in terms of what we’re looking for."

With the signing of Young and Thigpen, the Browns now have four quarterbacks with Brian Hoyer, Alex Tanney, Young and Thigpen. It could be a smokescreen with the draft approaching or it could signal the Browns will just add a developmental quarterback.

The big question is how does Shanahan rank the prospects coming out in the draft, including Johnny Manziel?

"Everybody’s got their own opinion," Shanahan said. "There’s a lot of people in this building so I don’t think there’s a consensus. They ask me my opinion and I give it and we’ll see what happens.

"I try to not stay on the fence," he said. "You have to put yourself out there a bit."

Shanahan was asked who his top three prospects were at quarterback and he answered with a smile.

"I’ll let you know."


Shanahan on Manziel: Pettine declined to comment on specifically on QB Johnny Manziel. Shanahan was also asked his opinion of Manziel.

"I think I see him close to everyone else," Shanahan said. "It’s obvious how good of a player he is and how fun he is to watch and I think it does translate to the NFL. If you can make those plays in college you can make those plays in the NFL. The one thing about the NFL is there is a lot of tape out there. You have to be able to do everything. He’s going to make plays in this league, but when they eventually contain him and shut him down he’s going to have to do things he didn’t have to do in college."

Shanahan said he thinks Manziel will be successful in the NFL.

"The guy can play football," Shanahan said. "I don’t care if you’re a big guy or small guy you’re going to take hits. You have to take care of yourself, but I definitely think he has the size to succeed in the league."

Shanahan on Sammy: Shanahan was asked if there were enough footballs to add WR Sammy Watkins to the offense.

"There’s always enough footballs," he said. "For a great receiver, just being double-teamed sometimes is doing your job."

Importance of Fullback: Shanahan said that the signing of FB Chris Pressley was important for the Browns offense.

"We need a fullback in what we do but think we use the fullback as much as anyone in this league from 10-20 plays a game," Shanahan said.

Nate’s Good: WR Nate Burleson was absent on Thursday but Pettine said he was excused.

"He’s in good standing with us."