The Cleveland Browns are in an enviable position, with three of the first 35 draft selections, and five of the first 85. For a team in need of talent across the board, they'll have many chances to plug holes. This could be a turning point for the franchise if they nail these picks. All evidence on hand suggests they will not be using their top selection on QB, let's break down why.
- They are flush with picks
With 2 first round selections and 3 over the next two, the Browns will have plenty of chances to pick a QB from a deep, but not especially top heavy class. The Browns also have the #26 selection in the first round, and it's eminently possible that Bridgewater or Manziel is still on the board at that point. Or they could package picks and move back up into the late teens if they see a player lingering in the green room who they want. For once, the Browns are rife with options and it would behoove them to maximize the amount of talent they acquire.
- Brian Hoyer's already on board
While no one would confuse Hoyer with a franchise QB, he's no more or less of one than anyone the Browns would take in the draft. Only Teddy Bridgewater is potentially pro ready, the rest would all have to sit and season behind Hoyer for at least one season. If the Browns can grab Bridgewater at #26, that would be a great value selection. Hoyer showed flashes of brilliance last season, winning back to back starts before suffering an untimely injury. He shredded one of the league's best defenses in Cincinnati, throwing for 269 yards and 2 TDs, leading the Browns to a 17-6 win.
- Mike Pettine's philosophy
It could be a smoke screen and Pettine has already fallen in love with one of the QB prospects, but his recent quotes suggest a coach with little patience for a project. While any coach's words this time of year should be taken with a grain of salt, it's hard not to believe the Browns' HC. Pettine says he does not like the idea of playing a rookie simply because he was a high pick and expressed a desire to build a strong team, minimizing the need for a franchise QB. "We want to be as good as possible without reaching for a quarterback," Pettine said. "You still want to throw resources at that position, but I don’t think you can go ahead and reach and take your 20th rated player at the fourth pick just because he is a quarterback and you have to have that guy. If you build the best possible team around him, that minimizes the importance of the quarterback."
- Pettine's scarred from the EJ Manuel experience
It's hard not to read the above quote as at least a slight dig at EJ Manuel and the way his former employer, the Buffalo Bills, handled their QB situation. The Bills were criticized in many corners for what was considered a reach, taking Manuel at #16 in last year's draft. Early returns on the move were uninspiring, as Manuel struggled with injuries and had bouts with ineffective play when healthy. Could be typical growing pains, or a sign the Bills made the wrong choice. Either way, it does not sound like an experience Pettine is overly eager to duplicate.
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