With all the pre-draft activities going on, like the combine and developing a draft strategy, the Cleveland Browns must evaluate every position player including pending free agents. The organization will need to decide who to retain, who to release, who to pursue/draft and who to let walk. This is the beginning of a long, tedious process until the draft occurs at the end of April.
One of the Browns’ biggest question marks is the quarterback position. There are currently four signal callers on the roster, including Josh McCown, Johnny Manziel, Austin Davis and Conner Shaw. McCown was brought in to be the starter, but also to mold Manziel into a starter. An injury caused Shaw to miss the entire 2015 season so Cleveland acquired Davis as insurance.
As every Browns fan knows, the season was atrocious as they watched their team finish fourth in the AFC North and a 3-13 record. Let’s briefly review how each quarterback performed last year.
The seasoned veteran McCown started eight games and came out victorious just once. Despite the record, he finished the year with a 93.3 rating, the highest for any Browns QB appearing in at least four games since Bernie Kosar in 1987. Not to mention the 1-7 record shouldn’t pinned on Josh, but attributed to a suspect defense and the lack of a ground attack. Think about it, in eight games McCown passed for over 2,000 yards and threw 12 touchdowns to just four interceptions.
After playing better than expected, the veteran should be retained. There are two years remaining on his contract and he is willing to mentor a young quarterback. However, if Cleveland decides to sign a free agent, McCown is a goner.
Speaking of a goner, that is exactly what Johnny Manziel is. He is currently under investigation for an alleged assault of his former girlfriend. After repeated negative headlines, the team is set to release the troubled quarterback in March.
It really is unfortunate, though. Manziel showed significant improvement over the course of the season. His decision making progressed as well as his comfort level. Manziel played in nine games, started six and finished the year with 1,500 passing yards and 230 rushing. He recorded a horrific completion percentage of 57.8% and accounted for seven touchdowns and five interceptions.
As for Austin Davis, he started two games, passing for 547 yards. He registered just one touchdown and three interceptions. Also, he signed a two-year extension during the 2015 season. There wasn’t much sample size to evaluate his performance so it’s tough to predict if Cleveland will keep Davis around.
Regardless, the Cleveland Browns should draft a quarterback this coming April. Since returning to the league in 1999, this organization has searched far and wide for their franchise quarterback and has yet to strike gold. It is imperative that we find a reliable quarterback to take our team into uncharted territory, the playoffs and maybe a Super Bowl.
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