Top quarterback prospect, Johnny Manziel, worked out this weekend for the Cleveland Browns down in Texas. The highly coveted Texas product has also scheduled a visit with Cleveland next week. Although this may be true, Manziel is not guaranteed to sport orange and brown next year. Regardless of the Browns true intentions, it is obvious that they’re doing their homework. With this in mind, other quarterbacks Bortles, Bridgewater, and Carr intend to scope out the Dawg Pound and meet with Cleveland before the draft.

Even though in the past, I have preached for Sammy Watkins’ name to be called with the fourth pick, but I no longer feel this way. The wide receiver by no means fell off my radar, but the reality is I don’t believe he will remain on the board at four. Especially with St. Louis owning the second pick intertwined with rumors moving Detroit up the board to snatch the stand out receiver. On the contrary to my previous beliefs, even if Watkins remains undrafted when Cleveland is on the clock, they should pass.

Therefore, it is imperative that Cleveland selects a top quarterback, whoever that may be. I have always been high on Johnny Manziel, but this isn’t about that. The Browns have needed a quarterback, a leader, and more importantly a play maker, since 1999, making it essential to draft the top quarterback available, whether it is Maziel, Bortles, or whoever.

Needless to say, the Cleveland Browns have not found success drafting a franchise quarterback. Honestly, it is just our luck if you look at our history, cringing at the sound of a well-known name. We have rarely selected the top guy and, as a corollary, we settle for a subpar player. As a fan, I will no longer brook substandard decisions by drafting a mediocre quarterback. Our draft history, more importantly with quarterbacks, speaks for itself.

Since returning to the league in 1999, Cleveland drafted Tim Couch first overall (1999), Spergon Wynn (2000, sixth round), Luke McCown (2004, fourth round), Charlie Frye (2005, third round), Brady Quinn (2007, first round), Colt McCoy (2010, third round), and Brandon Weeden (2012, first round).

None of these players worked out well for our franchise. Tim Couch is debatable on account of the man absolutely had no offensive line. Despite this, Cleveland has traditionally always passed on the best quarterback or drafted one from a non-existent crop. Let me try to explain this better.

Back in 1999, the Browns selected Tim Couch to revive the franchise. Couch’s overall value is debatable due to previously discussed reasons. The quarterback was taken over Donovan McNabb, who experienced some success in the NFL, as well as Daunte Culpepper taken with the 11th pick. I believe both field generals cashed in better careers than Couch.

Then the following year, with Tim Couch on the roster, the number one pick wasn’t spent on a thrower. Fortunately, there weren’t several great choices available being that Chad Pennington was the first removed off the board at 18. Unfortunately, we took Wynn with the 183 overall pick, 16 picks before Tom Brady joined the Patriots.

Our horrific fate continued in 2004, Cleveland owned the sixth overall pick but didn’t decide on a signal caller. Granted that, Eli Manning went first overall followed by Philip Rivers at four, meaning the team didn’t exactly “pass” on them, but you could argue that we could have attempted a trade. Regretfully, we drafted Kellen Winslow Jr. and we all know how that story went. Disappointingly, Ohio product, Ben Roethlisberger remained available until the 11th pick and became a two time Super Bowl champ with Pittsburgh. The Browns settled for Luke McCown in the fourth round.

And the beat goes on in 2005, when similarly Cleveland sat in the third spot watching San Francisco endorse Alex Smith as their future. Braylon Edwards wasn’t a terrible decision but look where the wide receiver is currently, nowhere. The Browns passed on Aaron Rodgers (24th) and Jason Campbell (25th) to go forward with Charlie Frye.

Our team got better in 2007, not when we drafted Brady Quinn, but when Joe Thomas joined the squad with the third pick. This decision was clearly correct and impossible to regret. Trading up back into the first round to select Quinn was something to repent. There was no moderately successful quarterback worth discussing from this draft. JaMarcus Russell was the first overall pick, enough said.

Our next stop on the road down memory lane is in 2010 when Colt McCoy joined the team. Cleveland spent a third round pick on the Texas Longhorn, but this decision wasn’t horrendous. The only arguably premier quarterback from this draft was Sam Bradford, who St. Louis picked first. Also for argument’s sake, Tim Tebow was drafted 25th overall by Denver.

Last destination, the 2012 draft, composed of a superior crop of quarterbacks. Andrew Luck was chosen by Indianapolis, immediately followed by Washington deciding on Robert Griffin III. Granted that Cleveland tried to trade with the Rams to receive the second pick, no deal was agreed upon. The Browns rolled the dice with Trent Richardson and he is no longer with the organization. Ryan Tannehill, selected by Miami at the eighth spot, has shown potential since entering the league, more than I could say for Brandon Weeden.

There exists two men who discredited my argument, Tom Brady and Russell Wilson. Wilson was drafted in the third round and Brady in the sixth. At the time being, there was no way to predict Tom Brady’s career being as great as it is. The same concept could go for Wilson, the man has already won a Super Bowl. No one foresaw the instant success Wilson has experienced. Despite these amazing mid-to-late round quarterbacks, I would take one in the first round.

First rounders are usually the real deal, but nothing is guaranteed. I have witnessed enough first round busts in my day to be scared off from drafting a franchise quarterback, but Cleveland desires one. What is the worst that can happen; Cleveland wastes another first round pick and ruins another quarterback’s career?

A franchise quarterback has been needed since 1999, and I believe this is the year we find our guy. May 8th is coming fast, so get your popcorn ready and enjoy the show.

-Max Gold

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