Why the Cleveland Browns are gambling on Kellen Mond

Browns, Kellen Mond. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
Browns, Kellen Mond. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports /

What did the Cleveland Browns see in young Kellen Mond, who they claimed on waivers from the Minnesota Vikings? 

The Cleveland Browns already have three quarterbacks that they like in Deshaun Watson, Jacoby Brissett, and Joshua Dobbs, plus a fourth quarterback on the practice squad in Josh Rosen, so why did they add Kellen Mond to the active roster via waivers from the Minnesota Vikings?

What are they going to do with all these quarterbacks?

The answer is that a football team has to obtain quarterback talent when they have the opportunity, even when they don’t need a quarterback.

Mond could be a very good quarterback talent.  But don’t take this author’s word for it. Instead, consider the evaluation of Chris Simms, who is one of the best evaluators of talent out there.

n 2021, all the major sports organizations were crazy about Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields, and Mac Jones, all of whom were drafted in the first round. Mond was drafted in the third round. However, Simms ranked the quarterbacks as Zach Wilson, Trevor Lawrence,  Mac Jones, Kellen Mond, Justin Fields, and Trey Lance. Mond would have been right smack dab in the middle of the first round.

Jones is the only one who has really stood out so far in what might be regarded as an underachieving quarterback draft class based on the early returns. Lawrence, Wilson, and Fields were stuck in ridiculous offensive programs. Lance served a year as Jimmy Garoppolo’s understudy and was impressive in limited action.

But what if Simms is right about Mond? Don’t you think it is worth having the staff take a look at him for at least a few weeks?

Let’s not use the argument that the Vikings would never make a mistake on Mond if he were any good. To borrow a line from the comic character Pogo, we have met the enemy and he is us. The GM of the Vikings is former Browns assistant Adofo Kwesi Mensah, who is in his first year as Vikings GM.

He chose former Browns practice squad quarterback Nick Mullens over Mond. So, on the one hand, Mond got beat out by a good player, but nobody in the Dawg Pound — or any other spot in the known football universe — was bemoaning the fact that the Browns let Mullens go over the offseason. Thus, all the characters involved are connected to Cleveland.

As for Mensah, it is not clear to this observer that he is an expert quarterback guru. For example, having inherited quarterback Kirk Cousins and his $40 million dollar price tag this season, he chose to extend the agony by granting him a two-year deal for $80 million, while deferring $12 million into 2024 and 2025, after the contract expires. This “play-now-pay-later” philosophy for aging players ensures that the team will get weaker year by year.

It boils down to Andrew Berry backing Mond and Mensah backing Mullens. It’s as simple as that. This fan is unimpressed with Mensah, regrettably, on the grounds that he is betting too heavily on the near term in Minnesota. The point is that fans should not interpret Mond being cut by Minnesota as proof that he is no good. That is false reasoning.

Simms, as a neutral commentator, saw Mond as a guy who threw for nearly 10,000 yards at Texas A&M, with 71 TDs versus only 27 picks for his career. He threw only three picks as a senior, even better. Though Mond did not accumulate massive touchdown stats, Simms raved about Mond’s quick release.

Jimbo Fisher’s Aggies quietly finished 9-1 in Mond’s senior year and posted sixth in the nation in the dog-eat-dog SEC, but that was not quite enough to make the NCAA playoffs. The Aggies did not have superstar wide receivers on that team. Of course, Trey Lance and Zach Wilson did not accumulate stats in much of anything in 2020, but for some reason, the sporting press gave them a free pass.

Mullens’ replacement in Cleveland, Joshua Dobbs, has gotten generally good reviews, and some writers have dared to suggest that he might actually be an upgrade over current starter Jacoby Brissett. Dobbs was a star at the University of Tennessee, an SEC school (which happens to be famous for the Haslam College of Business, by the way), but was stuck behind Ben Roethlisberger and Mason Rudolph.

In Week 12, Deshaun Watson will be activated, and the Browns potentially could have four quarterbacks to choose from, so likely one will be dropped from the active roster. If they like Mond and if Brissett is healthy and having a good season, Dobbs could probably be cut and presumably be signed to the practice squad. There’s always a chance that a Covid situation somewhere in the league could result in a spot start for him, but he would probably be available to be recalled in case either Watson or Brissett is unavailable and the Browns need him.

The Browns should aspire to become a “quarterback factory” that churns out talented players. For some reason, something has gone wrong over the past several years. Past Browns front offices seem to have been intent on trading away quarterbacks, probably on the grounds that any “quarterback competition” would cause controversy.

This is silly. These are grown men. There needs to be more than one capable player at the most important position. Especially in the Covid era, it makes sense to always go into the season with three quarterbacks on the roster instead of two.

Last season, the Browns had to start three quarterbacks. The Browns started Keenum twice and Nick Mullens once. Frankly, many denizens of the Dawg Pound feel that coach Stefanski should have pulled the plug on Baker Mayfield earlier. This season they know for certain that they will start at least two quarterbacks, so the need for a third-string quarterback is not so far-fetched.

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