Q: Saw Joe Thomas hosting on some TV networks. Can he get the weight back up? Working out yet? Troubling, but we have four that played left tackle in school: Spencer Drango, Shon Coleman, Joel Bitonio, Rod Johnson. I favor kicking Bitonio to left tackle. Does he still have the feet and kick to do it at left tackle? Seems like we have guards to step in.
A: Thomas said last month he was down only 10 pounds but it looks like more than that. He said he has trouble keeping his weight up when he’s not lifting weights. He’s started to rehab the torn triceps but isn’t back into full training mode yet.
Before the offseason, I was convinced he’d return to play in 2018. Now I’m at 55 percent.
As for his possible replacement, there’s not a suitable one on the roster. Coleman would probably get the first crack but he doesn’t have the feet necessary for the left side. As for Bitonio, the Browns seem committed to keeping him at guard.
Whenever Thomas retires, the Browns will need to find his replacement early in the draft.
Q: In past drafts, experts spoke of quarterbacks such as Andrew Luck, Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston as elite and game-changers. Experts aren’t saying that about any of the quarterbacks in this year’s draft. Why should the Browns pass on elite, playmaking players for the best quarterback out of a mediocre group of quarterbacks?
— Will Cal
A: I agree there’s not a clear-cut No. 1 quarterback in this class but that doesn’t mean there’s not a quarterback worth drafting at No. 1. It just means general manager John Dorsey needs to do more research to determine his favorite and if he’ll become a franchise QB.
Despite a consensus No. 1, draft experts continue to rave about this class, with three quarterbacks expected to go within the first five picks. The Browns have passed on quarterbacks at the top of the draft too often, and it’s been their demise. If Dorsey loves any of the top guys, he shouldn’t hesitate to draft him at No. 1.
Q: Who are the best free agents at wide receiver and safety this offseason?
A: You’ve identified the team’s two biggest needs after quarterback.
Jarvis Landry, Allen Robinson, Sammy Watkins, Marqise Lee, Danny Amendola, Terrelle Pryor and Eric Decker should be available at receiver. With Josh Gordon’s off-field history and Corey Coleman’s on-field struggles, the Browns would be wise to cover themselves by signing a young receiver like Landry and a veteran like Decker. I also wouldn’t mind seeing Gordon and Pryor lined up opposite each other on the outside.
At safety, Lamarcus Joyner of the Rams is a natural fit. He played for coordinator Gregg Williams and is a free safety, which would allow Jabrill Peppers to slide into his more natural strong safety spot. San Francisco’s Eric Reid and Green Bay’s Morgan Burnett are other possibilities.
Q: I’m worried if we have AJ McCarron, DeShone Kizer and the No. 1 QB in the draft, we will only have two wins combined in our QB room? Didn’t we learn from last year that we need a QB with wins and experience?
A: You have good reason to be worried.
Obviously coach Hue Jackson believes he can win with McCarron and that he’s better/more experience than someone with only two career wins. But McCarron’s resume isn’t nearly long enough — especially compared with those of Case Keenum, Nick Foles and Tyrod Taylor — and that could lead to trouble if he struggles early. I keep imagining a scenario in which McCarron starts the season, goes 0-5, Jackson is fired and the No. 1 pick is forced into the lineup too early. I wouldn’t have the same concern with Keenum or Foles.
Q: Please tell me the Browns won’t take Baker Mayfield, for the love of God.
A: No guarantees, especially considering the praise GM John Dorsey and consultant Scot McCloughan have heaped on Mayfield. But I believe it’s a long shot they take him No. 1. My money is on Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen.
Q: What are your thoughts about signing Colin Kaepernick and exposing him to the expert coaching and development of Hue Jackson and Todd Haley?
— Mark Leonard
A: It feels like the ship has sailed on Kaepernick and the Browns and Jackson no longer covets him as he once did.
I’m fine with Kaepernick, but only as a last resort. I prefer Case Keenum, Nick Foles, Kirk Cousins, AJ McCarron, Teddy Bridgewater and Tyrod Taylor as veteran options.