The Draft is Here! The Draft is Here! The Draft is Here!
…Kind of. Ok, not really. But it is never too early to talk about the Draft, especially for the Cleveland Browns, who are still (as they have been for the past forever) in rebuilding mode. And, speaking of the Draft, the NFL Scouting Combine started on Tuesday, as Offensive Linemen, Kickers, and Tight Ends all arrived in Indianapolis, and will continue through Monday, when the defensive backs finally make their ways home. And so, with all the Draft-related happenings this week (and because I love love love the Draft), I am going to focus on the Browns on the Draft today. However, I am not going to look at everything. Instead I am going to focus on what everyone is really most interested in right now – the QB situation. So, without further rambling, here is what the Browns will do when it comes to the quarterback position over the next couple of months…
First off, Brian Hoyer is remaining at home. This is kind of a no-brainer to me. With Johnny Manziel in rehab and really just questionable overall when it comes to his ability to play at the NFL level, the Browns have to keep at least one quarterback that is familiar with the team and personnel and who is capable of winning games. While I like Connor Shaw, the only guy that fits this description is Hoyer. Hoyer still has an interest in remaining in Cleveland, and the Browns shouldn’t have too much trouble inking him to a rather cheap deal, although they have the room to give him more if necessary. But either way, he stays in Cleveland for at least one more year.
Second, Ray Farmer is not trading up to draft Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston. Winston will be off the board to the Bucs at #1, and it would be incredibly stupid to package a boatload and a half of picks to move up and grab another project QB in Mariota. I don’t care that our new QBs coach has been working with him; it simply isn’t going to happen. Instead, the Browns will draft a quarterback in the later rounds. I’m thinking someone like Brett Hundley (UCLA) or Garrett Grayson (CSU), but more on that in a couple of weeks. Anyway, the bottomline is that the Browns have way too many other important needs (e.g. Wide Receiver) to idiotically trade up to grab Mariota.
Third, the Browns will pursue a quarterback other than Hoyer in free agency, but fail to be willing to fork over enough to sign him. This quarterback will be one Ryan Mallett, if only for the simple reason that there is no one else worth pursuing. The Browns won’t be looking for a backup in this search, instantly ruling out the perpetual backup who goes by the name of Matt Moore. The Browns aren’t looking to bring in somebody who seems to always be injured, so knock Jake Locker off the list too. The Browns won’t pursue either of the aging options that are barely worth mentioning, meaning one can ignore Shaun Hill and Josh McCown. And, finally, the Browns won’t be looking to sign a QB who couldn’t manage to lead an offense with more weapons than the Browns into the playoffs despite being in prime position to do so, so take Mark Sanchez off the list as well. So that leaves only Ryan Mallett. However, that leaves only Ryan Mallett, meaning a lot of other teams will be looking for his services, and the Browns are going to lose a bidding war over him.
So, come the end of the Draft this coming year, the Browns will have 4 quarterbacks on the roster. Three are old, one will be new. And all will appear to be equally poor options to the average fan. However one, and I’m putting my money on Hoyer here, will emerge during training camp and take control of the team. It will be hard for Pettine to begin another season with Hoyer at the helm, as the average fan is likely to be very unhappy. But Pettine has not been one to give into fan pressure much at all so far, and that isn’t changing this coming season. Anyway, with a more explosive set of receivers, some dude named Julius Thomas, and a stronger offensive line in front of him, Hoyer will quickly silence the critics. The only difference is that in 2015 he won’t fade after 8 games.
At least that’s my take on it. Over the next few weeks I will take a closer look at what the Browns will be doing in free agency, and then will move into the ever-exciting Draft. Stay tuned folks, for the Browns are never boring, and this offseason won’t lack news.