CLEVELAND — Sam Darnold was quarterback No. 2 on the Browns’ visitation list this week.
That doesn’t mean he might not be their No. 1 choice.
Southern Cal’s gun-slinging QB visited with Cleveland’s coaching staff and executives on Wednesday as the team continues to evaluate players it may possibly take with the first overall pick in this month’s NFL draft.
Darnold is the second top-flight QB this week to visit the team’s facility in Berea, Ohio. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma’s dynamic Heisman Trophy winner, met with coach Hue Jackson, general manager John Dorsey and others on Tuesday. The Browns will host UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Wyoming’s Josh Allen and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson in the coming days.
Darnold is believed to be the favorite to land with the Browns, who are coming off a 0-16 season and have spent most of the past two decades futilely searching for a franchise quarterback.
The 20-year-old Darnold seems to check all the Browns’ boxes: He’s big (6-foot-3, 221 pounds), played against strong competition, and is accurate (65 percent). The major knock on Darnold, who started two seasons for the Trojans, is turnovers. He had 22 last season.
Jackson, Dorsey and owner Jimmy Haslam recently attended workouts for Darnold and Allen, considered the top two QBs on Cleveland’s board. Dorsey, too, has a high regard for Mayfield and attended several of his games last season before he was hired by Cleveland.
During the visits this week, Jackson and his staff will get to know each of the quarterbacks on a more personal level. They’ll also get a chance to gauge how well they process information, and their football acumen.
“That’s another piece of information for us,” Jackson said last week. “That’s probably the last piece of the process for us to bring them to campus and have an opportunity to sit down with them in a different environment and talk through the things.”
Per league rules, the Browns, who also have the No. 4 overall pick and five in the first two rounds, can host 30 national prospects on pre-draft visits.