The Cleveland Browns seem to have clearly moved on from Johnny Manziel at this point. It is unlikely that Sashi Brown, the new head coach and whoever is in charge of player evaluation as the General Manager are going to want to hitch their wagon to Johnny. The rumors/reports of him dressing in disguise in Las Vegas may turn out to be true, but him not being in Berea as expected on the final Sunday morning of the season was the real final straw its seems.
The Browns could cut him, trade him or not given him what he wants and keep him on the roster. No matter what, they will not be building around him.
That leads to the NFL Draft. When Browns owner Jimmy Haslam was asked about the quarterback situation, he quickly noted that the team has the No. 2 overall draft pick. While we don’t want to read too much into that, it clearly indicates that the quarterback position is on the table with that pick.
Paxton Lynch and Jared Goff are the top two QBs in the upcoming draft -- maybe by a wide margin. Lynch has seen a meteoric rise this season with his huge frame, good numbers while leading the Memphis Tigers to an 8-0 record including a win over then No. 13 Ole Miss. Losing 4 of their last 5 hasn’t hurt his stock too much.
Lynch is a project with great physical traits, while Goff is seen as a ready-to-play QB with a higher floor but a lower ceiling. He threw for over 4,700 yards with 43 TDs and 13 INTs. At 6’4” and 215 pounds, he isn’t the exciting physical presence that wows fans of the NFL Combine.
Instead, he is just a talented player with good accuracy, enough arm strength and the high level intelligence it takes to play the most important position on the field. Much like many of the best QBs in the league (Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees) he wins with a set of skills beyond his physical traits.
Much like Teddy Bridgewater, expect Goff to be downgraded because of psychical attributes.
For the Browns, everything is up in the air. Sashi Brown is in charge of the roster but will have a lot of input from whoever the new head coach and GM are. Brown, an analytics guy, has never had a position related directly to making football decisions. However, if multiple reports are true, the Browns analytical study of QBs suggested the team draft Bridgewater in 2014.
That could be a sign that Goff would get the nod, as he ranks very highly in most analytics.
Once the Browns' brain trust is in place, we should know more about what they are looking for at the position. Concerns about Goff playing in the cold weather of Cleveland (as a California kid) and the AFC North, having played in the Cal system and his physical traits will all be raised. The Browns will also have to decide whether they want to take the riskier, bigger Lynch or go the safe route with Goff. Not an easy decision for a franchise that has floundered for years.
If the Browns decide to draft a QB with the No. 2 overall pick, OSU’s Joey Bosa will likely make that decision difficult, but Jared Goff will be a big part of that discussion. Whether the Browns pull the trigger or not depends on a variety of things. Once they get a coach hired, the NFL Draft prospectus for Cleveland will start to come into focus a little better.