Cleveland Browns flag against the Jacksonville Jaguars at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Browns need to let their next franchise QB sit a year

The Cleveland Browns biggest need this offseason is undoubtedly at the quarterback position, because a team without a potential franchise QB automatically has the all-important position as their biggest need. Since Jay Cutler is off the table, the Browns and other teams looking for an upgrade at QB will have to use the draft in order to snag their hopeful franchise quarterback. With two first round picks, including the fourth pick overall, the Browns are in a prime position to take almost any quarterback they wish to pull of the board. The dream scenario has the Browns taking a guy like Teddy Bridgewater with their fourth pick, because Bridgewater is, in my mind, definitely the best QB prospect in the draft. He’s the most accurate, possesses the best vision, and he has a strong arm and great athleticism. But make no mistake, with Bridgewater’s solid play now, he is as ready as it gets as a pro-style, pocket passer, and the “running QB” label is without merit and borderline stereotypical.

Anyway, the Browns are also extremely unlikely to land Bridgewater, because both the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars would have to pass up on him. As it stands right now, UCF’s Blake Bortles, Fresno State’s Derek Carr, and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel are the three quarterbacks with the best chance of being selected by the Browns with the fourth pick. Bortles is the best of those three, but it’s pretty much up to personal preference. Those aren’t the only available options for the Browns, but it would be a surprise for them not to pick those three and go with a second tier QB like Aaron Murray.

Of those three quarterbacks, Carr and Manziel are the two most often selected by the Cleveland Browns in mock draft, and it’s clear that neither of them are pro-ready right now. Some draft analysts also believe that Bortles could afford to sit another year, and the Browns are in the perfect position to draft a quarterback in the first round and spend time developing him.

There are some people who believe that you draft a franchise QB for him to start on day one, but quarterbacks need time to develop. If a QB isn’t polished, then it’s better to rest him and have a stopgap solution starting. Since Teddy Bridgewater is the only truly polished QB among the top-notch guys in this draft class, it makes sense for the Browns to rest a guy like Carr or Manziel (I’ll focus on these two QBs throughout the piece) and use Brian Hoyer or Jason Campbell as a stopgap QB. Why is it more ideal to rest a quarterback? I’ll let Tom Brady explain, from a post I wrote in late August, “I wasn’t prepared to play my first year. That’s all that would have happened, I would’ve gone out and get beat and lost a ton of confidence in what I was doing. I was able to sit there, watch, learn, grow, grow into my body a little bit, improve my throwing mechanics and then my second year I went in there really competing for the back-up job and ended up winning it.”

The Browns have two steady veteran quarterbacks who are both under contract through the 2014 season, meaning that they can use Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer as stopgap QBs for one season before letting one of them leave in 2015 and handing the keys over to their next quarterback. Both players had about even statistics (both had a 6.4 yards per attempt average), but I thought Hoyer outplayed Campbell when re-watching the tape; Hoyer’s accuracy and quick release stood out, though I’ve been a fan of Campbell as very good backup for quite some time.

Carr needs work, because his footwork is terrible. He has incredible arm strength, and I think he has the best arm talent of any QB in this draft class (arm talent essentially equates to arm strength). However, Carr could do a better job of getting his feet set, keeping his feet moving, and being more composed in the face of pressure- plus, his decision-making is sometimes a detriment. A guy like Carr’s arm talent could end up being a very good starter in this league, but he pretty much needs to sit out his rookie year and work under the tutelage of good coaching.

Why isn’t Manziel ready? I think this one is obvious. He’s horrendous at reading defenses, and he relies far too much on his improve skills, which are exemplary. However, improv skills don’t work well in the NFL, especially when the QB in question has a slight frame and will be going up against stronger, faster, more athletic, and better-tackling pass rushers in the pros. Manziel takes off running far too often and holds onto the ball instead of throwing it to an easy, open option; I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Manziel bypass an easy throw on tape.

While the Browns could try to throw their next starter into the fire, it would be very unwise to do this, especially since they wouldn’t have built up their roster enough. Plus, why should the Browns rush a rookie QB who isn’t ready or polished when they have steady vets in Campbell and Hoyer? The Browns won just four games last season, but they were competitive thanks to a stout defense. They will be better on offense next year- a feature back will hopefully be on its way- and it’s important for the Browns to do things the right way in their rebuild and in their development of a franchise QB. Whether or not you trust Michael Lombardi to make the right decisions, it’s clear that the identification and utilization of a franchise QB in the 2014 draft class is of the utmost importance for Lombardi and will most likely decide his fate in Cleveland. For his sake and the sake of the Browns, let’s hope the front office can get it right, even if their head coaching management has shown farcical dysfunction to this point.

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Tags: Brian Hoyer Cleveland Browns Derek Carr Jason Campbell Johnny Manziel NFL Draft Notes And Analysis

  • Tim Dillon

    interesting article, man. I was skeptical at first but it makes sense

  • paulbip

    Campbell is “steady”? Steady in the way he looses games.

  • Letterman007

    I agree with your point to the article and I too would let him sit a year if possible. I’m not so sold on Campbell or as I call him” Check down ” as he was pretty pathetic with his reads and I saw people wide open down field that even I could have thrown the ball to!!! There is a reason he is on his forth team!!
    Here’s my thinking, if Bridgewater isn’t there and Sammy Watkins is I would take him at 4 and see what developes at 26. Quite possibily one of the other QB’s is still available, if not get your running back there,although we all know Banner likes third round backs! With the second round pick get Garrapolo, the kid from Eastern Illinois and let him sit behind Hoyer! Or if Carr is still there take him or get Murray there or in the third round and get your right tackle in the second!
    We can’t keep reaching on picks to get a QB when we have other needs. Also there will be a plethera of QB’s next year that will be better prepared to start in the NFL!!!

  • Milliken Steeler

    As a Steeler fan, I’m hoping they take Manziel as he is going to get killed, He is at best 6′ and 205 soaking wet. If you think he can just run a muck, in the NFL like that in the pocket without getting hammered, think again. The problem is, people wont bounce off Manziel like they do with a bigger Cam Newton. The best bet is Bridgewater or Bortles in my opinion.

    When Cleveland is good and the rivalry is there with the Steelers its good for the NFL. The problem is you have an incompetent owner in Haslam, who is going to further embarrass the Browns fans when the feds decide to officially charge him. There is also the behind the scenes chatter with the coaches that are being thought about or interviewed. The way they fired Chud in one year when he was handed a mess, is going to resonate with a lot of would be coaches.

    Then you lose Norv who no one will deny is a great O coordinator and QB friendly Coach. How many times does the ownership collect money and think they can lie to the loyal Browns fans and tell them we’re rebuilding for the future?

    If they have another fiasco at QB with a Manziel who by the way has very questionable maturity also, the fans should rise up against the ownership. Just because you have money ( say thank you mom and dad Mr Haslam) doesn’t mean you have sense.

    I would make so many video related parities with a three stooges theme, Haslam wouldn’t want to turn on his computer again. I mean who gets called out in public like that and actually think its funny to have you and your management team called the three stooges? Did you see Haslams reaction to that? It was priceless.

    It reminded me of the fast and the furious when Paul Walker losses the race, frys the top end of his engine and has this stupid grin on his face after it happened. Did you enjoy yourself, was that fun he was asked? The same question goes to you Mr Haslam.

    The loyal Browns fans deserve much better than this.

  • GeorgiaRed

    If the Browns can somehow land Bortles, then I think he’d be alright to start next year, but Please for the love of everything holy stay away from Manziel. I keep hearing this rumors that the Front Office is enamored with him & even willing to trade up. I pray to God this is an elaborate smoke screen.
    I’m not sold on Bridgewater and I honestly can’t tell you why. I just don’t get excited watching him. If he’s there at #4 I won’t complain though.
    If for some reason both Bortles & Bridgewater aren’t there at #4, I hope management is smart enough to trade down(Because with 2 of Clowney, Watkins, or Matthews still available, there will be suitors). then maybe look for a CB(Dennard) or maybe O-line help. I do agree that a QB at 26 or maybe even early 2nd(Carr, McCarron, Fales) sitting for a year would be alright with me as well.

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