Will Cleveland Browns’ General Manager John Dorsey be able to resist drafting a quarterback on Day 3 of the 2019 NFL Draft, and if so, will the Dawg Pound forgive him for generating controversy?
First of all, if there is a quarterback controversy with the Cleveland Browns, it’s not about the first string guy. It could not be more obvious that Baker Mayfield is at the top of the depth chart and no one is pushing him off.
However, the number two slot is occupied by 35-year-old Drew Stanton, a guy who historically has had trouble completing 50 percent of his passes, but who tends to win football games when given a chance to start.
Third-string is occupied by the top quarterback of the now-defunct Alliance of American Football, Garrett Gilbert. It’s hard to tell if that’s a compliment or an insult. Gilbert had much better numbers in the AAF than he had in college, especially in avoiding interceptions. Maybe he is learning and getting better. Still, Gilbert has thrown only three NFL passes in his career. That’s not a lock to make the team.
It may seem silly to ask if Dorsey can survive controversy over drafting a backup quarterback, but quarterback decisions contributed strongly to Dorsey’s firing in Kansas City.
His career as GM in Green Bay, Kansas City, and Cleveland saw him pull the trigger on several major quarterbacks, including Aaron Rodgers, Nick Foles, Alex Smith, Patrick Mahomes, Tyrod Taylor, and Baker Mayfield. Holy Cow, today that looks like Mount Rushmore of quarterbacks.
Yet each of these moves had strong pushback from the media and fan base, including the “undraftable” Baker Mayfield, as labeled by famed Browns critic Colin Cowherd of Fox Sports. In particular, Dorsey gave up two number one picks for Patrick Mahomes, and that hurt his standing with ownership.
It’s hard to believe, but every single one of these picks generated great negative controversy at the time. There are those who claim that drafting Kevin Hogan helped get Dorsey fired by Kansas City on the grounds that they had too many quarterbacks. It didn’t help that he waived Hogan trying to set him up on the practice squad, and Hogan decided to accept an offer from the Cleveland Browns instead. So the excrement really hit the ventilator the next year when he traded two number one picks to move up for Patrick Mahomes, a “system quarterback” from off-brand Texas Tech.
Maybe Browns ownership and fans should show a little more tolerance if Dorsey drafts some competition at quarterback. What they really want is a guy who is a project quarterback, maybe a bit of a longshot but someone who can eventually overtake Drew Stanton by 2020.
There are quality prospects out there, like Ryan Finley of North Carolina State, Clayton Thorson of Northwestern University and Jarrett Stidham of Auburn, Brett Rypien of Boise State and Kyle Shurmur of Vanderbilt.
This analyst would consider Rypien as early as Round 4. Rypien played for a small school, but showed dramatic improvement in 2018, with a 30-to-7 TD-to-INT ratio. He also threw well at the Combine. It doesn’t hurt that his uncle Mark has a Super Bowl ring with the Redskins, and played a year in Cleveland as well.
If you would like to take a flyer on a Combine superstar, look no further than Tyree Jackson of Buffalo, who is 6-7, 249-pounds and ran a 4.59 at the Combine. This guy might be a tight end if quarterback doesn’t work out.
As a guess, Dorsey will probably select a quarterback on Day 3. He won’t be satisfied until he has three Pro-Bowl quality quarterbacks on the roster. The quarterback controversy will never end, but it will shift down a notch from first string to second and third string.