The quarterback position has hung over the Cleveland Browns Organization like a dark cloud for years. With Tim Couch the best the team has drafted, way back in 1999 with the #1 overall pick, the position has been a turnstile of old veterans, flashes in the pan and "QB of the Future" hopefuls who never really worked out.
The Cleveland Browns record on the field, as well as the turnover in both the coaching staff and front office, seem directly linked to not solving this problem.
Last year, Josh McCown and Johnny Manziel, with a little Austin Davis sprinkled in, produced decent numbers, a combined 4,156 yards with 20 TDs. McCown's 64% completion percentage lead the way while the 3 QBs combined for 12 INTs as well.
Even with those decent combined numbers, the Browns struggled to a 3 - 13 record and the #2 overall pick. Now, Manziel is on his way to being cut and likely out of the league.
For the Browns organization, they are in Year 1 under Hue Jackson and the rest. For Browns fans, this is another year in a long line of hope turned to pain.
The team is likely to draft a QB unless Jackson falls in love with one in Free Agency or via a trade. When the Browns "should" draft a QB is cause for much debate. Needless to say, fans must hope that whoever Jackson and the Browns brain trust pick finally ends this consistent problem.
Time to evaluate the Browns roster at the QB position:
Who Is On the Browns Roster
Josh McCown - McCown will be 37 by the start of the 2016 season. He wasn't terrible in his first season in Cleveland but his biggest contribution came off the field as a mentor and leader.
Austin Davis - Davis was a player that the previous Browns regime was high on but struggled when he got time on the field. The 26-year-old's upside is as a low-level starter, much like McCown and Brian Hoyer. He likely gets another season in Cleveland but lacks the physical tools that Jackson seems to be drawn toward at the position.
Connor Shaw - Shaw's 2nd season was lost due to injury. Shaw shows a ton of heart and guts but lacks the arm and body to give hope that he can be an important piece going forward.
Johnny Manziel - Much has been written about Manziel, and rightfully so. On the field last year, Manziel gave some signs that he could be developing as an NFL level QB. His improvements were not enough to make his on the field future certain. Off the field issues take precedence over anything about football with Johnny. The worst fears about Manziel coming out of college have been realized.
Who Could the Browns Lose
Manziel - He will be cut the first day the team can. From all reports, there is no interest in Manziel around the league.
Shaw - Shaw is unlikely to beat out McCown or Davis and is very likely to be a Training Camp cut unless he was able to reform his body in his year off.
Is the Need: Low, Medium or High
High - While there are many differing opinions about how the Browns should answer their problem at QB, everyone agrees that it is a problem. A BIG problem that the team has to addres if they are ever going to be successful.
Top Free Agents in Position Group
Sam Bradford - With Chip Kelly out in Philly, Bradford's future is still unknown. He made it through the season without a major injury for the first time in a few years. Bradford's stock is at the lowest it has ever been but the dearth of QBs means he will likely get a big deal.
Ryan Fitzpatrick - The Harvard QB had a very good season for the NY Jets and they are likely to try to re-sign him. He fits perfectly in Chan Gailey's system. With the Ivy League Front Office in Cleveland, the smart Fitz could be interesting but he doesn't really fit Jackson's scheme.
Brock Osweiler - The Broncos will have Manning likely retiring and his backup becoming a free agent. Osweiler did not prove he is the Broncos QB of the Future but he showed enough that the Broncos are going to stick with him for the foreseeable future.
Kirk Cousins - Cousins picked the right time to have a great year, a contract year. Washington will need to bring back Cousins including being willing to use the Franchise Tag on him.
Others - Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick could be free agents, with RG3 almost certain to be. Kaep could be given one more year under new HC Kelly but they may decide just to reset. Both have had good to great seasons recently but have fallen off greatly. Could Hue see reclamation projects worth taking a chance on?
Top NFL Draft Prospects in Position Group
Our guy Brendan Leister is planning to do draft profiles on most of the top QBs in this class, with Jared Goff's coming out later today. Analysts are greatly divided on this group with some not sure any of the top guys will be franchise changers in their first 3 to 4 years. Others have dug their heels in on one guy but do not think highly of the others. Still a few others see a lot of upside with this group of QBs.
The Browns next "QB of the Future" is likely on this list:
Jared Goff - The youngest of the top QBs, has Lynch beat by a couple months, Lynch is also seen as having the highest floor. The Cal product is great between the ears and has a good feel for the game.
Paxton Lynch - The big Lynch is the "tools" QB in this draft. He is huge, has a good arm and can also run. Seen to have the highest ceiling and lowest floor among the Top 3 guys.
Carson Wentz - The small school Wentz is seen as somewhere in between the other two guys above. Wentz is a big solid prospect with a solid feel for the game. He is older than the other two, almost 2 years, and has to answer questions about competition level.
The Cleveland Browns need a QB and are unlikely to find one in free agency or a trade that will fill their need. That leaves the NFL Draft and the ongoing fan, and analyst, discussion about where the Browns should take one. Most are greedy, wanting a top level player like Joey Bosa AND a Franchise QB later because "none are worthy of the #2 overall pick." Others are either resigned to the Browns "having" to draft a QB at #2 or are sold on a specific prospect at the position.
Either way, the Browns are likely to draft one in the first 32 picks. Brendan will have most of our QB profile pieces and the rest of our staff will fill in the rest.
We will continue our Roster Evaluation series over the next couple weeks. We will look at each positional unit group in the same way we did the QB position above. Stay tuned.