October 20, 2014

Medina
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Browns: QB Bortles draws interest

Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles wasn’t perfect at his pro day Wednesday, but he impressed onlookers and received a passing grade.

He fared better than Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, who struggled Monday with his accuracy and was criticized by analysts.

Bortles completed 41 of 50 throws, according to USA Today’s Tom Pelissero. The percentage isn’t great for a scripted workout with no defense, but most of the incompletions came on deep balls that were overthrown.

Bortles is in the discussion to be the No. 1 overall pick of the Houston Texans. If he’s still available at No. 4, the Browns would have to consider him.

Bortles (6-foot-5, 232 pounds) doesn’t have the biggest arm, but it looked strong enough and he appeared to have fixed the footwork problems that hurt his accuracy in the bowl game to end his college career. He threw from a wider base and wasn’t taking as long — or inconsistent — a stride as during the season.

After several short and intermediate throws, including a number of rollouts to both sides, he went deep. His first attempt flew 62 yards in the air and was overthrown. The next try was on target, carrying 61 yards with more arc.

Perhaps the most impressive throw was a 55-yarder off one foot as he moved left. It was too long for the receiver, but the ease with which he made the throw showed his arm strength.

“He’s athletic, that’s obvious,” said draft analyst Mike Mayock of NFL Network, which carried the session live. “He was really solid from every perspective. It looked like it was supposed to look.

“The word for this kid is potential. He’s potentially a franchise quarterback.”

Browns coach Mike Pettine, coordinator Kyle Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains didn’t go to the workout, just like they didn’t attend Bridgewater’s, according to reports.

General manager Ray Farmer reportedly attended, and college area scout Patrick Moore was shown on TV talking briefly to Bortles after the workout. Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net reported the Browns met with Bortles in the morning and have a private workout set up.

Bortles was pleased with his performance.

“I think it went well,” he said on ESPN. “I thought I did everything I wanted to do. We’d definitely like to have a couple throws back, couple throws that I missed on.

“As far as what I wanted to show, what I wanted to do, all the movement, different actions, different balls, I think I showed everything and I had a blast doing it. Very few guys that are 6-5, 230-235 can move around and throw on the run.”

Bortles completed 65.7 percent in three years at Central Florida with 56 touchdowns, 19 interceptions and 8.5 yards per attempt. He was at 67.8 percent with 3,581 yards, 25 touchdowns, nine interceptions and 9.4 per attempt in 2013.

Houston coach Bill O’Brien is a former offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, including with the Patriots and Tom Brady. Bortles has been described as his kind of quarterback.

“I was very impressed,” said O’Brien, who watched the workout. “He made every throw I wanted to see, and he showed good footwork.”

Bridgewater, who subsequently blamed his poor workout on not wearing gloves as he always did at Louisville, was the first of the top quarterbacks to hold his pro day. Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel will conclude them March 27.

All are expected to have private workouts with the teams considering them in the top 10 in the draft May 8.

Paying a visit

Free agents Paul McQuistan and Alex Carrington visited the Browns on Wednesday, a team spokesman confirmed.

McQuistan (6-6, 315) is an offensive lineman who can play tackle and guard. He started 14 games for the Super Bowl champion Seahawks last season but came off the bench during the postseason.

McQuistan, who will turn 31 next month, has made 52 career starts, including 40 in the last three years with Seattle. He was with the Browns in 2010 but didn’t appear in a game.

The Browns are looking to add depth along the line and upgrade at least the right guard spot. Shawn Lauvao, who started there for most of last season, was allowed to leave in free agency and signed with Washington. Jason Pinkston and Garrett Gilkey are options already on the roster.

Carrington (6-5, 301 pounds) is a versatile defensive lineman with nine starts in four seasons with Buffalo. He started all three games he played last year, totaling 10 tackles before suffering a torn quadriceps. Pettine was the coordinator in Buffalo last year.

Carrington, 26, has 53 tackles, four sacks and a forced fumble in 44 career games.

Contact Scott Petrak at (440) 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him @scottpetrak on Twitter.