CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Cleveland Browns general manager John Dorsey walked in the door in December with an embarrassment of riches in assets to play with.
Now he has to decide who he will spend them on.
“We’re going to be very prudent in our long-term strategic planning process,” Dorsey said in an interview with Dustin Fox at the Senior Bowl that aired on 92.3 The Fan Thursday.
With over $110 million in estimated salary cap space and 4 of the top 35 picks in the draft Dorsey hopes to rebuild the Browns quickly but the focus is – and understandably so – on the No. 1 pick in the draft.
It is widely assumed that pick will be spent on one of four quarterbacks: Wyoming’s Josh Allen, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield or USC’s Sam Darnold. Everyone is trying to figure out who Dorsey has his eyes on.
“Yeah, I do have a leader. You know what his name is? Best available player,” Dorsey said.
Dorsey doesn’t have a “type” when it comes to quarterback. Sure, the measurables matter – height, weight, hand size etc., but Dorsey explained to Fox why he looks deeper than that when evaluating the position.
“When you correlate success, it comes down to winning,” Dorsey said. “And then there’s the physical mechanics of it, there’s the mental makeup of it. Guys come in all different shapes and sizes. Aaron Rodgers is completely different than Tom Brady. Brett Favre won a different way.
“To me, winning is the ultimate thing, but also when you love the game of football and you command that respect of your teammates and it comes naturally and it’s not forced, I think it’s a wonderful thing. When guys start to believe in each other, that’s wonderful.”
Dorsey kept his thoughts on the quarterback class close to the vest as to not tip his hand, but he did share a tidbit about Mayfield that caught his attention and impressed him.
“The one thing that you hear about, what I was impressed with, when he first got to Oklahoma, his teammates early in the summer, he had digested the playbook and understood it within two days. And then the love and conviction that his teammates have for him, you can see that,” Dorsey said.
So which quarterback is Dorsey leaning towards?
“Me? I like Otto Graham, myself,” Dorsey joked referring to the Browns’ Hall of Fame QB responsible for 7 of the franchise’s 8 championships.
Dorsey has already sat down with the personnel department to comb through potential free agents. He’s met with head coach Hue Jackson to assess the team as well as staff to figure out, “where should we move forward here?”
Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam have also been kept in the loop as to the vision he and Jackson are trying to forge together to get the franchise back on track.
It starts with infusing a roster that is young and known nothing but losing with blue-chip talent through free agency, trades and the draft starting March 14 when the new league year begins.
“We can acquire players at different levels of each position. I explore every opportunity,” Dorsey said. “All I can say we’re going to be well-prepared whenever the start of the league year is. I’ve always said, we’re not going to leave any stone unturned. We’ll put the pieces together and hopefully it all works out.”
One hole they may have to fill is at left tackle. Joe Thomas has yet to tell the Browns if he’ll return or retire but Dorsey is planning for both scenarios to play out.
“We all admire Joe Thomas. We all think he’s a great person. I think he’s a great football player. We’ve had nice discussions with each other,” Dorsey said. “I expect Joe to come back. I mean I do, I’m the eternal optimist. But, you also have to make sure you have plans in place if something like that doesn’t happen. I want Joe back and the whole organization does and the city of Cleveland does, too, I think.”
Jackson adding Todd Haley from Pittsburgh to be the offensive coordinator was a big win for the organization in Dorsey’s eyes.
“His ability to coordinate the game, it’s been on display for many years,” Dorsey said. “You guys have seen it. I’ve always admired how he attacks defenses. I always admired his creativity. I’m excited to have somebody of that caliber here.”
Dorsey won’t put a win total on his expectations for 2018 yet but he is confident better days are ahead – and soon.
“I’m the eternal optimist, I really am,” Dorsey said. “I expect us to win every week.”