In the first two Preseason games, Robert Griffin III has set fans of the Cleveland Browns a buzz. His ability to run with ease and his #flickofthewrist deep passes has dreams of the decades-long question finally being answered.
Griffin is young (26). Griffin's rookie season set the world on fire. Griffin has the backing of new Browns Head Coach Hue Jackson. The Browns offense is set up around the unique talents of Griff. The team could have a dynamic offense with tons of big plays.
Griffin has receivers like Terrelle Pryor, Josh Gordon and rookie Corey Coleman who are great in the deep game. He also has underneath talent like Duke Johnson, Gary Barnidge as well as a couple of other rookies that can succeed in a variety of ways.
Everything is setup for the Browns to ignore the QB position in the upcoming NFL Draft.
They do not plan to do so. They plan to target Deshaun Watson, the big name going into the college season, and the rest of the QB class, even if Griffin is great this year.
Griffin's Injury History
While RG3 has looked great so far, his injury history is very concerning. With his smaller frame, ability to extend plays and ability and willingness to take off and run, Griff is at risk of further issues.
His knee issues led to the end of his career in Washington. While medicine has improved over the years, any body part that has been cut on is naturally more at risk for problems. Some have worried that Griffin's knee could quickly become a problem once again.
Whether it is due to an injury during this season or just the worry moving forward, the Browns will target Watson and the rest of the college QBs because of Griffin's injury history.
The Browns have RG3 under contract for this season and next. It will not be the biggest issue should he excel in his two seasons but the Browns want options going into those negotiations.
With his history, negotiations could get very difficult. Griffin has been focused on his "brand" since entering the league and is likely to want to capitalize on free agency after getting very little attention this time around.
The Browns are likely to have a ton of cap space and won't want to let a successful QB leave but, much like the Chargers with Drew Brees and Philip Rivers, having options at QB will be helpful. This will lead them to targeting any number of college guys.
Everyone, Everything Is an Asset
The new Front Office, the Harvard Guys, obviously see everything as an asset. They turned the #2 pick in this year's NFL Draft into a plethora of picks over the next two seasons. They didn't just trade down once, they did so twice in the 1st Round.
Even if Griffin is good this season, adding a top level quarterback is adding the most valuable asset in the NFL. Nothing, including a 1st Round draft pick, is as valuable as that. Drafting Watson would give the Browns two quality QBs, with the rookie being under contract for 5 years. Not only would they protect themselves against an RG3 injury, they would have the best backup in the league and, after showing him off in Preseasons, would get call after call about a possible trade.
Drafting Watson, or another top level QB, only to turn them into multiple picks/players is the definition of using assets.
Manipulating the Draft
It is important for the Browns to not limit what other teams think they are going to do. If Griffin is looking good, the Browns have to show strong interest in college QBs to give other teams who want QBs reason to trade up with them. It was why the Eagles had to pay a high price to get to #2, the Browns needed a QB and had scouted the top guys strongly.
Because of Griffin's injury history and his contract, it would be believable that the Browns would spend one of their top picks on a QB. Targeting and focusing on them in the college season gives them power during trade negotiations. This is especially true if the Browns are picking #1 (their pick or the Eagles).
Targeting Deshaun Watson and the rest of the college QB class gives the Browns the ability to manipulate the Draft.
Keeping Griffin Motivated
Some believe that Griffin wasn't motivated after his amazing rookie season. Scouting, and especially drafting, a top level QB keeps the fire under him. While the Browns would have to be careful not to alienate RG3, putting pressure on him from within can bring out the best in him.
Griff has put forth great effort this offseason and the development is obvious. After failing out of Washington and then having little interest from other teams, he had lots of reasons to put in the work.
Targeting, scouting and even drafting a QB high would be one way to keep Griffin motivated.
Best Use of Assets
Along with the point above about everything, everybody being an asset, drafting a QB high could be the best use of an asset in the upcoming NFL Draft. The Browns have two 1st Round and two 2nd Round picks. Drafting a QB while still being able to address other needs, seemingly defense, is a luxury some teams haven't had. The Bengals, for example, haven't been able to draft a possible upgrade to Andy Dalton because of the need to add immediate talent around him.
Outside of a LeBron James type player in the NBA, no position has more value than QB in the NFL. Having so many picks, the Browns would be in position to draft this most important position. Doing so, even with a talented RG3, would be a great use of their assets and give them long-term hope.
This year, Watson seems to be in a league of his own at the QB position. While the Browns could draft one of many edge defenders worth a 1st Round pick, Watson could be the only one at the QB spot worthy of such a pick.
Drafting a QB might just be the Browns best use of assets and lead them to target Watson all year long.
Deshaun Watson is THAT Good
Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater three years ago. Marcus Mariota two years ago. Jared Goff this year. Those four have been my favorite QBs in the previous three NFL Drafts. Watson falls just behind Mariota at this point for me. His ability to read the field, his arm talent and his added ability with his legs make him a great prospect.
While there are a variety of reasons listed above as to why the Browns might scout Watson and other QBs, the Clemson star is in a league of his own in my mind. The Browns will target Watson, and draft him if they have a chance, because he is just that good. He will be worth the #1 overall pick in next year's NFL Draft.
Does the idea of the Browns targeting a top level college QB, even if Griffin is playing well, surprise you, upset you or just make sense?