Since the franchise’s return to the NFL in 1999, the Cleveland Browns have had eight head coaches, one playoff appearance (with only two winning seasons and an overall record of 77-163), and 20 different starting quarterbacks. They’ve actually managed to play 20 quarterbacks in 15 years. That’s borderline impressive. Check out Matt Friedman’s article Ranking the 20 Cleveland Browns Starting Quarterbacks Since 1999, posted on returnofcleveland.com, for more insight on the atrocious quarterback play endured in Cleveland since I was 8 years old.
Two of those 20 QBs who played last season (Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell) have been released, leaving Bryan Hoyer as the only quarterback currently on the Browns roster. With all of this being said, it is clear what position Browns fans are hoping to see come out of the draft this May.
In a recent article on espn.go.com, Pat McManamon address the task at hand for the Browns in the upcoming draft.
“And then there was one.
The Cleveland Browns’ busy offseason leaves them having addressed the possible loss of Alex Mack (he stayed) and the departures of T.J. Ward and D’Qwell Jackson (Donte Whitner and Karlos Dansby). They added a running back (Ben Tate) and they added depth at several spots, including the offensive line (Paul McQuistan), receiver (Andrew Hawkins, Nate Burleson), tight end (Jim Dray) and cornerback (Isaiah Trufant).
Which basically leaves one spot to address: quarterback.”
Although there will be no surprise when a QB is taken in the draft, no one can truly be sure when one will be chosen. The Browns have a total of 10 picks in the draft (two first rounders — 4th and 26th overall — one second rounder, two third and fourth round picks, and one 5th, 6th, and 7th rounders).
There are three frontrunners for the job if the Browns decide to go quarterback at number four: Teddy Bridgewater from Louisville, “Johnny Football” Manziel out of Texas A&M, and Blake Bortels from Central Florida.
If they decide to wait until later in the draft, a large number of potential QBs come into play: including, but certainly not limited to, A.J. McCarron, Derek Carr, Zach Mettenberger and Aaron Murray.
According to Peter King, writer for SportsIllustrated and MMQB.si.com, the Browns are “strongly considering passing on quarterbacks with their first picks and waiting until their second or third selections.”
“I’ve heard that at least four quarterback-needy teams—Houston (first pick), Jacksonville (3), Cleveland (4) and Oakland (5)—are strongly considering passing on quarterbacks with their first picks and waiting until their second or third selections. Simple reason: They’re not in love with any of the quarterbacks, and there are too many other good players who are surer things than a quarterback you have sincere doubts about. For that reason, there could be more quarterbacks taken in round two than round one.”
We all know great quarterbacks can come from the later rounds, such as Tom Brady who was drafted 199 overall in the sixth round, but for an organization like the Browns, you can’t bank on finding a Tom Brady past the third round in this year’s draft. The NFL has changed to a pass-heavy league and elite quarterbacks are winning year in and year out. For the past 11 seasons, the winning quarterback in the Super Bowl came out of the first or second round. Tom Brady,Russell Wilson (third round), and Drew Brees (second round) are the only three drafted outside of the first round.
Needless to say, I want to see the Browns make a statement and draft a quarterback in the first round. The guy I have an eye on is Bridgewater whose accuracy is among the best in the draft. The Browns just may be a quarterback away from a special 2014 season.