Cody Kessler is not the answer for the Browns as QB1

Nov 6, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Cody Kessler (6) during the first quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Cowboys won 35-10. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 6, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Cody Kessler (6) during the first quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Cowboys won 35-10. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cleveland Browns need a true starting quarterback and, unfortunately, Cody Kessler is not the man for that important role.

If the Cleveland Browns were to line up for a game this upcoming Sunday, there is a very real likelihood that Cody Kessler would take the field as the team’s starting quarterback.

That reality, while sobering, is one that Kessler embraced during the offseason, according to

"“You have to approach it [that way]. Like last year, obviously, I was the third-string guy and I treated every week as if I was the starter. That is the same mindset that I took going into this offseason, whether that is reality Week 1 or it is not. You have to take that approach. You have to prepare during the offseason, in season, week in and week out as if you are the starter."

"That is the mindset that I have had this whole offseason and going into workouts right now and then obviously into OTAs and camp. You have to prepare yourself like that because if you don’t and all of the sudden that happens, then you aren’t going to be ready. My mindset this whole time is to prepare as the starter and continue to do things as if you are going to play Day 1.”"

Kessler should be applauded for continuing to hone his game during the offseason. It would have been easy for Kessler to take the attitude that, with the release of fellow quarterbacks Josh McCown and Robert Griffin III, that he had a roster spot locked up as one of the few quarterbacks in the room who has experience in head coach Hue Jackson’s offense.

Related: Patrick Mahomes draft profile

It is that desire to improve, among other things, that makes Kessler a valuable member of the roster. He works hard (unlike a recent first-round quarterback), doesn’t embarrass the team off the field (unlike a recent first-round quarterback) and won’t make a mess of things on the field when called upon (unlike a recent first-round quarterback).

But for the longterm success of the franchise, the Browns must draft a quarterback in the first round of the draft – preferably this year; if not then no later than 2018.

Related: DeShone Kizer draft profile

When you go back through the Super Bowl era of the NFL there are a few truths that stand out, and one of them is that championship teams are more likely than not to be quarterbacked by a first-round draft pick.

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Of the 31 different quarterbacks who have won a Super Bowl, 18 were selected in the first round of the draft. While there are notable exceptions – Tom Brady was a sixth-round selection, Kurt Warner was an undrafted free agent, and the entire league clearly missed the boat on Bart Starr (17th round) and Johnny Unitas (ninth round) – the reality is that having a first-round quarterback in the lineup improves your odds of winning a championship.

Related: Deshaun Watson draft profile

That’s not to say this is as easy as simply selecting a quarterback in the first round and everything else falls into place. The Browns have gone that route seven times in franchise history – Harry Agganis (1952), Bobby Garrett (1954), Mike Phipps (1970), Tim Couch (1999), Brady Quinn (2007), Brandon Weeden (2012) and Johnny Manziel (2014) – and only Couch had any kind of success at the NFL level.

The narrative throughout the offseason has been the Browns should do “whatever it takes” to get a quarterback if they believe he can be “the guy.” That has centered mostly around New England Patriots backup Jimmy Garoppolo and North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky, but that sentiment should apply to any quarterback.

The Browns need to still put in the work and if they decide there is a quarterback worthy of being selected in the first round – for example, Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes or Clemson’s Deshaun Watson – then they should absolutely do it. If not, well, the idea of waiting until 2018 in the hopes of being in a position to select USC’s Sam Darnold seems a bit shaky, but that may end up being the case.

To bring this back around to Kessler, he is a great guy to have on the roster as a backup quarterback. If he is forced into a game because of an injury to the starter, he won’t put up a Spergon Wynn or Ken Dorsey-like performance, which is good, but he also is not going to take the Browns to the next level.

Next: Mel Kiper lays out a path to Mitchell Trubisky

That will only happen when the Browns find themselves a true first-round quarterback – that much is certain.

The big uncertainty is who that player is and when will the Browns finally find him.