Coach: Brian Hoyer looks like starter


If the Cleveland Browns draft a quarterback, new coach Mike Pettine says it won't be easy for that player to unseat Brian Hoyer as the starter.

"There will be competition, but I think it will be very difficult, based on my evaluation of this year's draft class, it will be very difficult for anyone in this draft class to come in and beat [Hoyer] out," Pettine told USA Today Sports. "There's that certain 'it' factor he has. Just the way he's attacked his rehab, the way he's attacked learning a new offense.

"What jumped out was his accuracy. I think him going through the drill work that we had put the quarterbacks through in their workouts, and compared it to those [other] guys, it was encouraging to see."

Pettine made similar comments Thursday to ESPN's Sal Paolantonio, saying that if the Browns draft a quarterback, he is likely to sit this season.

The Browns also spent $100,000 on a study to help them find the best way to pick a quarterback in the draft, sources told ESPN.

The study used analytics to examine every quarterback who played in the past 20 years, to determine what qualities quarterbacks need to be successful. It concluded that Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater is the best quarterback in this year's draft. In their final mock drafts, ESPN's Mel Kiper and Todd McShay have the Browns taking Bridgewater with the 26th pick.

Although the Browns were earlier linked to Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, many mock drafts now have the club going away from selecting a quarterback with the No. 4 pick. In Mel Kiper's latest mock, he has the Browns taking Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins.

Hoyer returned to the field with teammates at a recent voluntary minicamp for the first time since he tore a knee ligament in October.

The injury occurred in Hoyer's third start for the Browns, a Thursday night win over Buffalo. He'd won his first two starts and seemed to be grabbing hold of the starting job. He said recently that he considers himself the starter until the team tells him he's not.

"Until someone tells me otherwise," he said, "I feel like I'm the starter for this team."

Other quarterbacks on the Browns' roster include veterans Vince Young and Tyler Thigpen, who signed with the team after the completion of minicamp.'s Pat McManamon contributed to this report.