Cleveland Browns: Paul DePodesta explains passing on Carson Wentz

Jul 28, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) throws during training camp at NovaCare Complex. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 28, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) throws during training camp at NovaCare Complex. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

Cleveland Browns Chief Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta revealed the thought process behind passing on Carson Wentz in the 2016 NFL Draft.

The Cleveland Browns entered 2016 in need of a franchise quarterback, leading many to believe the Browns would use their No. 2 overall selection in the draft on either Jared Goff or Carson Wentz.

That all changed when the Browns signed Robert Griffin III in March and subsequently traded out of the No. 2 spot in the draft, ultimately selecting wide receiver Corey Coleman with the No. 15 overall pick.

Goff was already gone by the time the Browns had the chance to take Wentz, but some were confused by the decision to trade the pick to the Philadelphia Eagles and go with Griffin as the starter.

Paul DePodesta explained the decision in an interview with Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland. The article covers the signing of Griffin and the focus on college quarterbacks to potentially draft in the 2017 NFL Draft, but he also explained why the team did not draft Wentz:

"Had Goff been available at No. 2, DePodesta indicated, it would have been a more difficult choice. But Wentz was not considered a top 20 NFL quarterback in the consensus opinion of the New Browns Order.“We have to make judgments on the individual players and we’re not always going to be right,” DePodesta said. “But in this particular case, we just didn’t feel it was necessarily the right bet to make for us at this time. Again, it comes down to individual evaluation of a player. We will not always be right on those type of things.“I think the hardest part, and where we have to stay the most disciplined, as much as you want a player, you can’t invent him if he doesn’t exist. In a given year, there may be two or three NFL-ready quarterbacks at the college level. In another year, there literally may be zero. There just may be not be anybody in that year who’s good enough to be a top 20 quarterback in the NFL.“Even though you have a desperate need for one, you have to resist the temptation of taking that guy just because you have a need if you don’t believe he’s one of those 20 guys at the end of the day. I think that’s the hardest part, just maintaining your discipline because you have the need. That’s what we did this year.”"

DePodesta said something Browns fans have been waiting to hear for years. The fact this new regime passed on a questionable, in their eyes, quarterback shows the team is committed to a long-term plan that cannot be fixed in one year.

Instead of going after a quarterback early, the front office focused on the wide receiver position, as no quarterback could come to the Browns and be successful with the receiving corps that have been featured throughout the past few years.

There is the chance Wentz could turn out to be a successful quarterback, but committing to a player with multiple question marks while in the first year of a rebuilding phase would not have been smart.

It is something that may have been done by past regimes, such as when Brandon Weeden was taken in the first round of the 2012 draft, but it is just bad business.

Instead of taking a chance on Wentz, the Browns decided to go with Griffin, who should officially be named the starter in the next week or so. It is a low-risk move, as Josh McCown is ready to step in if needed. There is also Cody Kessler, but it would be best to let him learn the game as much as possible before he is put on the field.

Griffin may surprise fans in 2016, but he would have to play even better than he did in 2012 to put him as the favorite to start in 2017. Unless the Browns pull off a miracle and finish above the .500 mark this year, the focus in next year’s draft is going to be on the quarterback position.

Next: Joe Thomas highlights systematic problem

And with a full year to scout and look ahead, the front office will be given the chance to select a player who truly can become this team’s quarterback of the future.