Whether it’s finance, dating or quarterbacks in Cleveland, acts of desperation get you nowhere.
Keep that in mind as the Browns attempt to upgrade their roster this offseason and fulfill Hue Jackson’s promise that 2017 will be more palatable than 2016.
While most Browns fans will base their judgment of the Browns offseason performance based on their solution at quarterback, it’s not that simple.
“I came here to coach that position and get it better, and I plan on doing that.” Even Browns Head Coach Hue Jackson stressed the importance of answering the position last week at the Senior Bowl.
There is no denying the importance of a quarterback in the NFL. The conference title round of the NFL playoffs featured Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady.
Yet it’s important for fans – and teams – to remember that you can’t take a quarterback that doesn’t exist.
Desperation for quarterbacks can lead even the best and brightest offensive minds to see a quarterback mirage.
The Vikings learned that lesson with Christian Ponder in 2011. He was not considered a 1st round pick yet Minnesota selected him 12th. 4 years and 36 interceptions later, Ponder left the franchise a bust.
History is scattered with bad quarterback decisions. Just last offseason the Texans gave former Bronco Brock Osweiler, a free agent, a 4-year, $72 million contract. One season in, they are considering moving on from the Arizona State product.
That isn’t to say Jimmy Garoppolo or Tyrod Taylor will be a bust in Cleveland. It merely should serve as a reminder that hitching your wagon to the wrong guy can be just as detrimental as passing on the right guy.
With Garoppolo, you are paying draft capital and a potentially substantial contract extension for an unknown ceiling. Is Garoppolo a game manager? Can he be a franchise quarterback? Is he even a starting quarterback in the NFL? There are no definitive answers given his lack of NFL experience, 2 career starts, and stellar supporting cast in New England.
Those are alarming unknowns for a guy you’ll reportedly have to give up at least a first round pick for.
Taylor is a more known quantity. A draft classmate of Ponder, Taylor is coming off 2 years in Buffalo with a 15-16 record and a 37-12 TD-INT ratio.
Despite the solid numbers, Taylor is a limited quarterback. A game manager, he isn’t the kind of player that will single-handedly win games for the Browns. Given the team’s lack of talent compared to Buffalo, the concern he might not be good enough to make a difference is fair.
These are just two names the Browns will consider over the next few months but each represents a different end of the investment spectrum.
We’ve seen the Browns acquire quarterbacks for relevance & need since 1999 and often the decision has gone wrong.
A smart approach to the quarterback position this year would also be a sign Cleveland’s brain trust is ready to make the right decisions across the rest of the roster too.
My advice to the Cleveland Browns is simple this offseason. If you are uncertain of your options this offseason, aim small – miss small.
If you swing for the fences for the wrong guy in a bad year for quarterbacks, it could be a new leadership group making the decision on quarterback next year in Berea.
Mock Draft Fun — More than 2 months away from the NFL draft, here is some fun speculation names that might make sense for the Browns.
1) Myles Garrett, EDGE, Texas A&M — If Cleveland doesn’t feel a quarterback is worth the first pick (a la acting off desperation,) then Garrett is clearly the guy. Garrett fits the Browns’ other great need, a potentially dominant pass rusher. Garrett along with 2016 2nd round pick Emmanuel Ogbah could team together as building blocks for a young Browns defense.
12) Dalvin Cook, TB, Florida State — “What about Isaiah Crowell?!” I can already hear you scream this at me through the phones.
In reality, Crowell is a nice player but has not been consistent whatsoever to start his career. In 2016, he tore off one or two big plays per game, increasing his stats, followed by inconsistent runs that left the Browns with plenty of 3rd and longs.
Cook is an explosive runner that is the best of a good class. He isn’t Ezekiel Elliot, but he would be an immediate upgrade for a team that needs playmakers.
33) Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson – I’m not partial to any quarterbacks in this class yet. Each has their own positives and negatives but Watson at the top of the second round is phenomenal value for the Browns.
Watson has fair concerns about his body holding up in the NFL but he’s a true leader that could potentially work through accuracy issues and spread offense concerns.
52) Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss – The Browns utilized two tight-end packages often in 2016 despite lacking great playmakers at the position. While Cleveland might prefer a bigger bodied tight end to go with converted receiver Seth DeValve, Engram’s athleticism would be a nightmare for the back seven of every AFC North team.
65) Adoree Jackson, CB, USC – Jackson is an undersized ball-hawk who might start immediately for Cleveland but needs coached up. Given it’s a third round pick and he is a freak athlete, the risk is worth the potential reward for the Browns.