Views expressed in this fan commentary may not reflect the views of the staff or the OBR.
Growing up in suburban Cleveland, I always heard that opening day for the Cleveland Indians was Cleveland's national holiday. For a kid growing up in the mid 90's that notion made perfect sense. It was everything that it had ever been, the pageantry and the start of spring (also, more importantly the end of winter) and the embodiment of hope, but with the reality of a contending, star studded team sprinkled in. For a sports crazed city that frequently (see: always) endured brutal winters, the day of the Tribe's home opener really did feel like a sort of national holiday.
And while I'd still contend that that day carries significant importance in Cleveland, there is another day that has usurped the home opener in this city. Naturally, it involves one of our sports teams, but sadly, it does not involve that team actually playing a game. No, what I'm referring to is the annual event where NFL teams gather one and all to methodically select college players, one after another, round after round, until the pool of players has been picked over so much that only several hundred still remain to be signed as free agents in a frenzied few day period after it “ends”. It's the Draft. And it's glorious.
It's become the one moment each year where we can all sink into a Matrix like Utopian alternate reality where we can be excited and optimistic over what our football team is doing. Just a few short days where we can rationalize just about anything and sit on our front porches late on a spring night while a slight, fully content smile spreads across our faces.
It's a remarkable time where one can envision Brandon Weeden's rocket arm tearing up the division or Barkevious Mingo blowing up opposing quarterbacks. Where you can see Trent Richardson running towards daylight, Braylon Edwards beating a corner and snagging a fifty yard bomb, and a dynamic young Heisman quarterback named Johnny Manziel reshaping the landscape of the NFL quarterback. It clearly isn't something that lasts very long for us here in Cleveland, but while it's happening it's pure magic.
With all that said, I do have to note that this year is the first that I can remember in a very, very long time where the Draft doesn't have the luster that it normally has around these parts. Part of that may be that the Cavs have been surging throughout the past few months, but I would venture to say that most of the reasoning lies with the current state of discontent, depression, and apathy for your Cleveland Browns. I've said before that I don't think we're even close to some of the depths that we've seen the past decade, but the overall wear and tear of said decade is really starting to take its toll on the general enthusiasm of the entire fan base.
If that's how you're feeling at this moment as you read this, don't fear my friend. The Browns are on the verge of bringing in players of unlimited potential that just may turn around the fortunes of this once proud franchise. And if that doesn't do it for you, well, that's why I'm here. Full disclosure, I'm in no way a super duper Draft guru. In the eyes of some, that may actually be a good thing, but I'm probably somewhere in between those guys and the average football fan. I don't look at a ton of scouting reports and I break down zero film, but I do watch a lot of college football, read a ton of articles on the Draft throughout the year, and pride myself more so on the big picture type Draft stuff. If that sounds like someone you would want to hear short, semi-random thoughts on the subject from, then go ahead and keep on reading. I think you may just be in for a treat.
Waiting Until the Mid Rounds for a Quarterback
There seems to be a sentiment among some fans that the way the Browns need to go this year with regards to the most important position in all of sports is to hold off until the middle of the Draft and take someone there. You know, one of the guys not nearly good enough to be considered for the first round. One of the guys that we can develop. One of the guys that can be our Tom Brady!
Please allow me a few seconds to slam my head repeatedly against the closest piece of furniture. Not only is this thought beyond ridiculous for the obvious reasoning that ending up with a great quarterback out of the third or fourth round almost never happens, it's even that much more ridiculous that a Browns fan would want to take this route. Hey, you know that thing that we've tried numerous times before and that almost never works? Yeah, let's do that to fill the position we've been dying to fill for over twenty years!
Just Get a Quarterback
This one I love. The people who don't really have any actual thoughts or plans, but fall back on the demand to just get a quarterback. They don't necessarily want to trade up. They don't really know who the guy is. They can't quite tell you how the team should go about obtaining the elite level passer that will turn the team into an instant contender. They just want it done. I suppose I would agree with the sentiment, but I don't live in a fantasy world where the answer to all of our problems will fall into our laps. The only realistic answers to our problem at quarterback seem to be poised to go before we pick at 12. So we either need to move up to get one of those guys, throw up a prayer on one of the later round guys, or admit that there is no answer in the Draft for us this year and look towards the future. Which leads me to..
Do We Look to Next Year?
I have to admit that the thought has crossed my mind. If we can't get up and get Mariota, should we look to maybe trade for another first rounder next year? Such a deal would certainly revolve around trading 19 to a team looking to either move up or move back into the first round this year. In such a trade, I would imagine that we would end up with a later round pick this year and a first next year.
The thinking would obviously be that we would want to have ammunition to move up and grab a top quarterback prospect in the 2016 Draft. Now, there is something to be said for the fact that next year's class seems to always look better than it ends up being. There are countless examples of guys who appear to be the next big thing, but end up shrinking under the increased scrutiny of an additional season of college football. I don't know if this is the right way to go for the Browns, but if a trade up can't be had, I would say that it should at least be on the radar. I can understand not solving the problem at quarterback this offseason if the option just isn't there, but I do need to know that there is at least some kind of a plan. And I hope to god that plan isn't go 1-15.
The Price to Trade Up is Too Much for Mariota
No. This one needs to stop. We've seen everything from Doug Pederson to Colt McCoy to Brandon Weeden, and all the horrible things in between. There is no price too high to get a franchise quarterback. There isn't. There may be in New England. There may be in Pittsburgh. There may be in Green Bay. But there isn't in Cleveland. If the opportunity presents itself to move up for a guy who can be a an elite quarterback for a decade or more, there is no such thing as too much.
I've heard more of this lately than I can stomach. People who say that they would be willing to part with some combination of picks this year and next to move up, but the line would be drawn at adding certain other picks. It would be alright, they suppose, to package 12 and 19, but if a trade would need the Browns second round pick in order to be completed that would just be a bridge too far. I mean, do you know what kind of marginal right tackle or disappointing wide receiver could be had with that pick? There's no way that the Browns should be willing to part with that to get a player who could turn the franchise around. No, that would be insane.
Look, it's all dependent on whether or not Mariota would be that guy. The guy to turn things around. The franchise type quarterback. No one can know for sure. The Andrew Luck types almost never come around. It's a once in a decade or more type thing. What every other team that doesn't happen to have the first overall pick in one of those Drafts has to do is evaluate the top quarterbacks correctly and make their move if needed. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes they have to move up, sometimes they don't. But you can't just wait for those once in a generation types to fall into your lap. Unless you're the Colts and you're the luckiest awful team in the history of ever.
I happen to think that Mariota just may be that guy. I've been wrong before and I'll be wrong again. Luckily, I don't have to make the decision. I just know that it's insane to place limits on what would be acceptable to pay for an actual franchise quarterback. It's up to Ray Farmer and the coaching staff to make that determination. I'll place my faith in them, mostly because I have no other choice. But if they feel that they have a legitimate chance at solving our perpetual problem at quarterback, there should be no price too high. Especially not a second round pick or a future first.
No Mariota Because He Lost to Ohio State
If you don't want Mariota because you watched the National Championship game and his team lost to Ohio State, you may just be using the most idiotic reasoning of anyone ever. Congratulations!
This is another thing I've heard, and it's beyond any realm of sanity that has ever existed. Let's forget, for a minute, that he actually played pretty well in that game and his team lost because the defense couldn't stop the Buckeyes and his receivers couldn't hang on to sure thing wide open touchdown catches. Even if he had played poorly, it wouldn't be an indicator. Brandon Weeden beat Andrew Luck in a bowl game for god's sake.
Also, did I mention that he didn't play poorly in that game? I did? Ok, moving on before I have to go slam my head on some furniture again.
If the Browns Draft (Insert Player) I'm Done With Them
Oh, so you've persevered through the team being stolen, three years of no football, and fifteen years of pure crap, but if the Browns pick that one player it's all over.. Sure. I believe you. No, really, I do. And we'll all be sad to see you go.
(We'll see you in Berea in July)
The Browns Have to Pick (Insert Position) The Browns Have to Go Offense With Both Picks The Browns Have to Go Defense With Both Picks
Wrong. The Browns need to take the best players available. Drafting for need or drafting based on preconceived plans will only hurt us in the long run. Like always. Like William Green over Ed Reed because we needed a running back. Or Kamerion Wimbley over Haloti Ngata because we needed a pass rusher for Romeo's scheme. A few more of those and I'll be committed before I hit forty.
The Final Verdict
I'm hoping the opportunity presents itself for a trade up to get Mariota. If not, I'm just hoping we let the Draft come to us and grab whoever the two best available players are, regardless of position. Either get the quarterback or get some impact guys. That's how the good teams do it. It'd be nice if the Browns started to follow suit.
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