Editor’s note: Brad Ward and Rod Bluhm present a look at both sides of the Browns quarterback situation, while evaluating options in the next two draft classes. Should the Browns trade for a quarterback, draft one or wait until 2018 for a franchise quarterback? Take a look at their thoughts and then let us know what you think.
Do you feel that quarterback is the main position the Browns need to address?
Rod – The Browns have a lot of positions to address. Getting a franchise quarterback is probably at the top of the list, but I think you have to be realistic about what’s out there. I believe last season’s roster made it tough for anyone to succeed. The Browns are more than a quarterback away from being a good team.
Brad – Yes, it is far and away the most important position on an NFL football team and without the quarterback of the future on the roster the entire organization is just treading water. When a new regime is hired in the NFL, you have to know you have two years to prove yourself.
For the Browns, the #1 job of the front office and in this case head coach Hue Jackson is to identify the quarterback of the future. Fair or not, if coach Jackson, Sashi Brown and company go through two off-season’s and fail to bring in a guy that could legitimately be the quarterback of the future, they will be viewed as a failure in the eyes of owner Jimmy Haslam and will be dismissed at the end of the 2017 season. This would be the worst case scenario because Hue Jackson is a great coach for the Browns and I want to see him get a chance to groom someone into a good starting quarterback. It would be a shame if he never got that chance.
The easiest way for this regime to buy itself more time at the helm is to show everyone that they have the future quarterback on the roster. If they can do that, their record won’t matter again this year. They will have accomplished something that every other regime has failed to do and they would be granted the time to see it through with that quarterback.
Do you have faith in Cody Kessler or RGIII?
Brad – I have no faith in RGIII at all and he will likely be let go in early March. He has proven he cannot stay healthy and even when he was on the field, it is clear that he does not have the ability to command a pro-style offense. Cody Kessler surprised me this season. He worked hard and proved that he can be a serviceable game manager. However, he is in no way shape or form “the guy.” He lacks the arm strength to stretch the field at all. He could end up being on the roster again but as a 2nd or 3rd stinger at best.
Rod – I don’t know if I would say I have faith in either guy, but I did like some things I saw from Kessler last season. The ineffective offensive line made it tough for the rookie to ever get into a rhythm. Kessler lacks the arm-strength that I would like to see, but his accuracy is excellent. I would like to see him get a chance in his second season. I don’t feel that RGIII has the frame to stay healthy in the NFL. I like his arm, but his decision making isn’t where it needs to be. I honestly don’t expect him to be on the team next season.
What is your assessment of the 2017 QB class overall?
Rod – I don’t love the class, but I think there are some guys who will be good starters eventually. The issue with the class is that every guy has at least one question mark. It’s the Browns’ luck that they get the first pick and there isn’t an Andrew Luck-type of guy sitting there. There are four to six guys who might develop, but none are a sure thing.
Brad – The 2017 quarterback class is a disappointing one, considering the season the Browns just suffered through to get the number one overall pick. There is no Cam Newton or Andrew Luck in this class, which would be ideal. To make things worse, the three guys that could be franchise quarterbacks all look like projects at best. It’s difficult to have much faith in any of them and because it’s just those three in a quarterback driven league, I find it very plausible that their value is being inflated.
What is the highest draft pick you would use on a QB in April?
Brad – Normally, I would be willing to use the number one pick in the draft on a quarterback. However, it is clear that there are no quarterbacks worth that pick in this draft. I would have no issue with the Browns using the number 12 overall pick in a quarterback or in a trade to acquire a quarterback. It is vital to Hue Jackson’s future that he get a viable candidate to fill the role as quarterback of the future. That comes at 12 either through the draft or via trade. He cannot just sit back and see who falls to them, they have to go get the guy they want, if he is even there. If he isn’t, they have to trade for Jimmy Garoppolo.
Rod – None of the draft prospects are worthy of the number one pick. Myles Garrett is really the only guy the Browns should be considering right now. I guess I could live with the Browns using number 12 on a QB, but it would have to be their guy and not just the guy who’s left. I would prefer to use the first-round picks on other positions and guys who are rated higher. If the right guy is there are 33, pull the trigger.
Who do you like best in this class?
Rod – I can see the potential in Watson, Trubisky and Kizer, but I think they’ll all be drafted higher than their value would dictate. I like the raw talent of Pat Mahomes. I believe he’ll move up into the first round. I would draft him at 33 if he’s there. The issue with Mahomes is that he’ll need time coming from a spread offense. I do believe he’ll be the first to truly succeed coming from the spread. His talent is insane.
Brad – If I had to pick a quarterback from the draft it would be Deshaun Watson. He has the intangibles that cannot be taught. His athleticism and arm strength are both there, and I think with enough work and the right offense around him, he has the best chance to succeed out of the top three guys coming out in the draft.
What are your thoughts on Jimmy Garappolo and Tyrod Taylor?
Brad – I think Jimmy Garoppolo is the answer. He is fundamentally sound and already has the smarts to run an offense right away. I don’t think he is just a product of the Patriots system; he makes all the throws with extreme accuracy and quick decision making. I feel strongly that he could be the Browns starter for the next 10 years. The Browns front office should do whatever it takes to acquire him. He speeds up the rebuild by years and Hue Jackson keeps his job.
Rod – I’ll back anyone the Browns go out and get. Jimmy’s value is debatable. He hasn’t played enough for me to feel that he’s a franchise guy. He’s looked good, but we was playing for the Super Bowl champs. How do we know what he’ll do on a lesser team? Other New England backups haven’t fared so well in new surroundings. Most of all, I don’t want Cleveland to give up a first round pick for his rights. He is a free agent in 2018. Tyrod might fit well in Cleveland, but I don’t see him as a franchise guy. I would welcome him in Cleveland as a bridge for a couple years. I just don’t think he’ll come here for peanuts.
What do you think about the 2018 QB class?
Rod – There appear to be several quarterbacks who could be franchise guys. Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Jake Browning, Mason Rudolph and Lamar Jackson all have the potential to be at the top of the draft board in 2018. The first three appear to be the most likely to be outstanding at the professional level. I know it’s early for all of them, but I believe that this class will produce more than one great NFL QB.
Brad – The 2018 draft class looks great right now but that isn’t something the front office can bank on. Last year, everybody was talking about how Watson was going to be a lock for the number one pick this season. It didn’t unfold that way at all. It’s too early to tell what that class is going to be. So many things can happen between now and then.
It is feasible for the Browns to wait a year to land their franchise guy?
Brad – The Browns cannot wait until next year. A failure to identify “the guy” and go get him over two consecutive off-seasons is not an option for Hue Jackson. What good is the “quarterback whisperer” without a quarterback? How frustrating would it be to watch this franchise pass over the potential answer again. The Browns have to take a swing at solving the quarterback problem every year. You don’t get that many chances, you’ve got to take your shot. Hue has to take his shot this off-season or he may never get his shot at all. They have the resources to make sure the get the guy he likes. Let’s hope it’s Jimmy Garoppolo, but even if it isn’t, go get your guy. Waiting is not an option.
Rod – Looking at the way the draft classes set up, I think it’s the smart thing to do. The 2017 class is chock full of defensive talent and has question marks at QB. With the hiring of Gregg Williams, the Browns should stack his defense with young talent. The question here is whether Hue Jackson can survive another season without adding a better option under center. I believe in this staff and I believe that Jimmy Haslam should be aware of the composition of these draft classes. In reality, the Browns don’t expect to make the playoffs in 2017. Why not admit that this is a long-term project and give Hue a minimum of three or four years. That way the Browns can build this team according to what’s available and quit having to reach for a QB. They have wasted so many picks over the years, it has to stop.
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