Reasons The Browns Won’t Be Trading Up For A QB

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By Eric Szczepinski

The Browns wont be drafting a quarterback in the 1st round, despite the rumors that the team is considering trading up for Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. It was less than one short year ago when the Browns selected Johnny Manziel from Texas A&M. Yes, Manziel struggled on and off the field and his behavior did not match one of a quarterback in the National Football League. However, Manziel is 22; younger than a good amount of QB’s in this year’s draft.

Manziel is a skilled prospect that needs to adapt and learn the ways of the NFL. He played only two years at A&M before entering the draft. With such a small amount of collegiate experience, Manziel needed to watch and learn the NFL game. 2014 was designed to be a red-shirt year for the talented rookie. The Browns planned on having original starting quarterback Brian Hoyer carry them through the season. As we know, Manziel was forced into action late in the season and it was a disaster. He was not prepared and played poorly as a result. With only two years of college play, and reported lack of NFL preparation, Manziel was destined to fail in his small sample size.

Manziel is not a bust because of 1.5 games of bad action.

The former A&M sensation’s rookie season by no means was promising, but that does not mean you simply give up and start all over with a new rookie for the 2015 season. For the fans and “experts” that say his game didn’t translate in the weeks he started, Manziel was lost in the speed of the game. He was actually trying to correctly line up and read different coverages, something every great quarterback does, just with more efficiency due to experience.

Manziel’s lack of preparation set him up to fail. NOT his talent and skill-set. He truly was the biggest mystery of the 2014 draft.

It is not a question if his unique skill-set will transfer to the NFL, but if he is able to play in a more sophisticatedly structured offense. Manziel displayed at A&M that he is capable of working from the pocket and driving the ball downfield. He is elite at extending plays. and making things happen outside of the pocket.

For Manziel, to be successful he needs to first and foremost be prepared and put in the work to be successful. Secondly, Manziel must learn to live inside the pocket and only use his legs as plays breakdown. Only at 22 years of age entering his second season, there is no means to give up on this polarizing prospect, but instead to help him grown and mature into a successful quarterback.

Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston are the top two QB’s in the 2015 draft class. After them there is a steep drop in talent. Both Mariota and Winston projected to be top 15 picks in the upcoming draft. Mariota, the 6’4 dual threat quarterback from Oregon offers the most upside in the draft. At that 6”4 height, he has the size of a prototypical NFL QB. The former Duck has a strong arm; good size and can make plays with his legs. He has the skill-set to be a great future signal caller.

However he comes from the up-tempo Oregon offense, which had Mariota throwing to wide-open receivers. Mariota is not a custom to making NFL reads and throws into tight windows. Mariota is not a Day 1 starter at the next level and needs the proper grooming to allow him to translate to the NFL. Like most rookie QB’s he must go through a learning curve entering the league and will not be ready to go on opening day like an Andrew Luck was, per say. Whoever drafts Mariota will love his physical tools but must ease him into the pro system.

Pro Comparison: Colin Kaepernick

Jameis Winston from Florida State whose 6’4, 230 pound build is similar to Ben Roethlisberger. Winston is a more pro-ready prospect. In his two years at FSU, Winston displayed the ability to work from the pocket. He had a great pocket presence, thus did most of his work from that pocket. He had good anticipation, and made NFL reads and throws on a weekly basis. Winston is by far more pro-ready when it comes to on field play. However, he has had numerous off field issues showing his lack of maturity. He also saw a spike in interceptions this past year amounting to over 30 total interceptions combined in his two collegiate seasons. If Winston can impress teams and show he is capable of maturing and growing up, he can be the first quarterback selected this April.

Pro Comparison Ben Roethlisberger

The Browns can’t afford to trade away valuable picks to select either of these candidates. Either is a for sure a franchise changer, but I don’t expect them to make an immediate impact on being a team’s savior from day one. Both come with their own set of weaknesses and flaws. Both QB’s need to develop and adapt to the game because whether it’s on or off the field issues both prospects don’t come nice and ready. The Browns have many needs on the roster including DL, WR, and OT. They need to hold both first round selections, and make two impact picks that can come in and be day one contributors. The Browns will be able to address needs, and continue to already build their solid core. Trading up for another QB will continue to set the Browns back, and will be giving up on their first round quarterback Johnny Manziel, whom I believe was a more gifted and talented prospect than both Winston and Mariota. With no quick fix in the draft there is no need for the Browns to sell the farm on either QB prospect.

The Browns, however, do have a large amount of salary cap space for free agency. But, no team wins by building through free agency. Successful teams build through capitalizing on their draft picks while adding key veterans and solid core players in free agency. The Browns have enough money to retain most of their own free agency and make one big splash maybe like an DT Ndamukong Suh. I then expect the team be wise with their money and not just spend money to spend money.

When it comes to the quarterback for 2015 there is no easy answer. Manziel will need to mature and continue to develop. He will not be given the job, but asked to compete and earn the starting spot. The free agency market is weak, but the team will likely sign a capable veteran that will be asked to compete with Manziel for the starting gig. Brian Hoyer, Mark Sanchez, Matt Moore, and Jake Locker are some of the top options.

Mike Pettine has built a solid foundation during his first year and I expect the team to continue to give Pettine more talent. The Browns need to capitalize on both first rounders and add solid veteran free agents. The Browns need to develop Manziel and get him ready to be their starting quarterback and hope the benefits show through of his first round pick status. If Manziel does not work out, the Browns will have a steady veteran whether Hoyer or someone else to lead the way in 2015.

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