Josh McCown does not automatically become a backup if the Cleveland Browns draft a quarterback with the second overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
There has been a lot of talk about quarterbacks in Cleveland since the season ended on a dismal January afternoon, but one name has been left out of the discussion.
Josh McCown came into 2015 as the starting quarterback of the Cleveland Browns, but finished it as an afterthought.
His season started in the worst way possible, as his most memorable moment came on the opening drive of the season when he dove headfirst toward the end zone and was nearly incapacitated by the New York Jets’ defense.
Enter Johnny Manziel and the season was over before it ever began.
McCown found himself as the backup heading into 2016, until Manziel decided to lose his mind and ruin any shot of playing in Cleveland. This put McCown back into the starting role, at least on the current depth chart.
The Browns are expected to take a quarterback with the second overall pick, whether that be Carson Wentz, Paxton Lynch, or Jared Goff, meaning McCown may be the backup once again at the start of the 2016 season.
But drafting a quarterback would not automatically make McCown second-string. Whoever is drafted would need to earn the starting role in training camp, which fans should want based on the recent performances of first-round picks in Cleveland.
A potential plan, given he is healthy, could be to have McCown open the season as the starter and have the rookie learn behind the veteran for part or all of the season.
The franchise has a history of being impatient with young quarterbacks, but this new regime may try to change all that.
Hue Jackson does not seem like the kind of coach to put a player on the field to fail, when a veteran is able to start until the young player is ready. This does not mean a rookie quarterback should be coddled, but he should not be put on the field if he is not going to give the team a chance to win.
McCown has never had a great deal of success in his career, but he did look comfortable with the lackluster offense around him in 2015, when he did play.
A returning Josh Gordon, who is easily the most important piece of the 2016 Cleveland Browns, would give McCown a top target, which would result in Gary Barnidge and Travis Benjamin being open more often and having even better seasons than they did in 2015.
As long as he can stay healthy, Josh McCown could have this team playing at the .500 mark. He was more of a constant in 2015, when healthy, than the rest of the team, so if the assorted other problems are fixed he could be successful in 2016.
That is, if he is given a chance to start. Rookie quarterbacks, especially those taken second overall, are expected to pay immediate dividends. This type of mindset, and not his skill, may be the only thing keeping Josh McCown off the field next season.