Pro Football Talk is reporting that the Cleveland Browns have narrowed their choices for the fifth pick in the NFL Draft down to USC QB Mark Sanchez and Texas Tech wideout Michael Crabtree.

If it’s really down to these two, let’s analyze how the Browns came to this decision.

Mark Sanchez. The kid is an extremely talented player who only had one year as a starter at USC. In that year, however, he showed a lot of the skills, intangibles, and accuracy you look for in a franchise QB.

While he’s certainly not a can’t miss prospect, there’s a lot to like, and if the Browns bring him along slowly and implement the right system to feature his skill set, he should do well for a long time.

Now, why would the Browns be considering him when they already have QB Derek Anderson and 2007 first round pick, Brady Quinn on the roster?

Anderson had an excellent year in 2007 and was rewarded with a three-year extension.

Unfortunately, 2008 wasn’t as kind to him.

A lot of that had to do with injuries, drops (Braylon), no running game, and a defense that couldn’t stop anyone—a tough predicament for any QB to find himself in.

So once it was apparent that the Browns’ season was going to end in Week 17, Crennel, realizing the pink slip was inevitable, turned the football over to Quinn to see what he could do with it.

The answer, not much.

Just a few games into his tenure and he had a broken hand, which sidelined him for the remainder of the season. So to say that Mangini isn’t exactly enamored with his signal callers and gleaning over Quinn’s potential is an understatement.

A lot of people felt, and still feel, that Quinn is overrated and that’s why he had such a precipitous drop on draft day.

So if they do decide on Sanchez, look for them to have a deal in place for Quinn, something which was rumored last week when reports had the 49ers linked to the former Notre Dame QB.

Then the Browns can give the ball back to Anderson while Sanchez is brought along slowly.

Michael Crabtree. The kid is being touted by many NFL scouts as the best player in the draft. In fact, he’s drawing comparisons to Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who firmly entrenched his superstar status with his spectacular postseason run.

Why would the Browns take Crabtree?

Two reasons.

Edwards’ personality and flair aren’t seen as meshing with Mangini’s no nonsense, no personality demeanor.

And second, Braylon’s contract is up after the season and the Browns are going to have to shell out big bucks if they want to keep him around.

And even if they came up with the money, which they won’t, Edwards seems intent on leaving Cleveland for a big city.

So that’s why the rumors of him to the Giants keep cropping up and will probably happen on, or near, draft day. When you have a player of Edwards value, which is still surprisingly high after his poor 2008 campaign, you cannot afford to let him walk for nothing.

Just ask San Diego.

Although Rivers has performed well for the Chargers, it’s still tough for fans to think that they allowed Drew Brees, probably the third best QB in the NFL, to walk for nothing.

So Crabtree then makes a lot of sense. You move Edwards, pick up a first, third, and possibly a later round pick, and by selecting Crabtree at five, if the Seahawks don’t swoop him up at four, you have your receiver spot covered and can focus on building up the rest of your roster through the draft.

Let’s face it, the Browns aren’t doing anything in 2009.

The defense has so many holes in it and you can’t win in the NFL, or compete, if you can’t get off the field.

And that’s why this could all just be smokescreen and the Browns really intend on solidifying their defense with either Texas DE Brian Orakpo or Boston College DT, B.J. Raji.

For the latter, you’ll have to check back on Tuesday when the pre-draft drug tests are released to see if that’s still a possibility.

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