Cleveland Browns position not needed in draft No. 1: Quarterback of the Future
Cleveland has not drafted a quarterback since Baker Mayfield in 2018. The Dawg Pound sometimes has a weird complex about quarterbacks, like the second-string quarterback is an enemy player, and is a threat to our guy.
Probably that complex has existed ever since Vinny Testaverde replaced Bernie Kosar in 1994. Generally speaking, however, it is not a bad idea to continue to draft a late-round quarterback, looking for the next Tom Brady or at least a Tyrod Taylor. As long as the backup quarterback wears brown and orange, it should be all good.
Under Andrew Berry, the Browns usually have tried to carry only two quarterbacks on the roster except when Covid necessitated giving a roster spot to Nick Mullens or Kyle Lauletta. However, whenever a sportswriter innocently advocates carrying a third-string quarterback on the roster, it usually results in controversy and all hell breaks loose.
No matter who you suggest, fans will get upset. Darn it, that guy ain’t no franchise quarterback! Well, no…the third-string guy is someone near the NFL minimum wage scale. Aaron Rodgers is not going to take this gig, okay? We have to limit the discussion to players with a $1 million price tag.
We are one of the most quarterback-complexed fan bases in the nation. Many of us are convinced that a Super Bowl is not possible without the so-called “Franchise Quarterback,” and no team could ever win with a backup, like Nick Foles, for instance. Of course, nobody knows what a Franchise Quarterback is until after he wins the Super Bowl.
This year, Deshaun Watson is the first-string quarterback. We think he is a Franchise Quarterback based on his paycheck and stats. His status is not subject to debate, and we aren’t going to even discuss it here.
Second-string is Jacoby Brissett, who has been a starter in the NFL and if called upon, should be able to win some games with six present or former Pro Bowl players around him (Amari Cooper, Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, Joel Bitonio, Wyatt Teller and Jack Conklin). Brissett is a lower-cost option than Case Keenum.
Keenum had to go because the coaching staff had no confidence in him last season, and wouldn’t play him even though Baker Mayfield was injured and could not throw accurately. They saved $7.1 million by cutting Keenum. There is also a narrative that Watson will cause the offense to evolve to a more wide-open affair with multiple wide receivers, and Brissett’s game may be a better fit for the new offense than Keenum’s.
The fact of the matter is that Brissett’s career as a starter has been more impressive overall than Keenum’s and he’s still improving.
At third string, the Browns signed former Steelers backup Joshua Dobbs. The former Tennessee Vol has been impressive in preseason games and he has been around since 2017. He was available because the Steelers thought they were going to have Mitchell Trubisky, Mason Rudolph, and the late Dwayne Haskins, so it was not a disgrace to be displaced by those three.
Dobbs is a credible quarterback for third string. However, with the threat of suspension apparently lessened this season for Watson, the need for a third-string quarterback may have lessened also.
We might keep an eye on the Raiders quarterback situation. If they draft a QOTF behind Derek Carr, they will probably cut either Nick Mullens or Garrett Gilbert, both of whom have experience with the Browns and Kevin Stefanski and more experience than Dobbs.
The last thing the Cleveland Browns need is to use another draft pick on a fourth quarterback. Still, an unwritten rule is that if there is a quarterback that the front office believes strongly will develop into a top-10 performer in the NFL, you have to take him, even if the team does not need him.
Within the AFC North, the Ravens didn’t even bother to draft a quarterback and still managed to unearth a possible starting quarterback as an undrafted rookie. They signed Tyler Huntley out of Utah in 2020, and he actually beat out Robert Griffin III for the second-string job. Then last season, he performed well substituting for Lamar Jackson when he went down with various injuries.
Speaking of RG3, back in 2012 Washington drafted Kirk Cousins the same season that they drafted RG3 with the second overall pick. Sometimes these backup picks eventually appreciate in value.
It’s possible, but not likely, that the Browns scouting department could advocate some kid who they think could be the next Tyler Huntley or Kirk Cousins. Bringing four to six quarterbacks to summer camp is not a bad idea just to run a thousand or so drills per day with thrown footballs and there need to be talented arms to throw those footballs.
These players are better found among undrafted free agents or recycled veterans, however, rather than expending draft picks.
Even in the long term, there can be no plan to replace Deshaun Watson. Hence the Browns are not motivated to search for a late-round quarterback who might displace Josh Dobbs at number three on the depth chart. Dobbs is good enough, and there might be other alternatives that present themselves at roster cutdown date in September.
So congratulations, dear reader, if you made it this far. What we learned is that there are some positions worth drafting and others not. Do draft defensive ends and defensive tackles, safeties, and maybe even cornerbacks, even though the Browns appear to be loaded with corners. Don’t draft a linebacker this year.
On offense, do draft a tackle, but not a center or a guard. Do draft a tight end, but not a slot receiver and probably not a wideout. Do not draft a running back or the developmental quarterback unless it’s Tom Brady 2.0.
Do draft a punter, fullback, and maybe even the right kicker in the later rounds.