Everyone believes they have the right answer. Listening to and understanding another’s point of view can be difficult. It can also be illuminating.
With this thought, the Orange and Brown Report’s Brent Sobleski and Jared Mueller decided two minds are better than one. These two come from disparate backgrounds, yet both fervently cover the Cleveland Browns.
As the Browns continue to struggle in an attempt to win their first game of the season, the OBR’s dynamic duo decided to tackle the biggest issues plaguing the franchise.
Of course, everything starts with the quarterback position…
If you had to target one quarterback this offseason, who would it be?
SOBO: The one NFL constant is the Cleveland Browns' continued quarterback search.
Instead of wallowing in the past and all of the team's missed opportunities, another regime is tasked with finding the elusive face of a franchise. Unfortunately, this is one of the worst possible offseasons to do so. Thus, two options immediately come to the forefront.
First, the Browns must gauge the New England Patriots' interest in trading backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. This is the most viable solution for multiple reasons. He's only 25 years old with three years of NFL experience learning under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. When pressed into action this year, Garoppolo completed 70 percent of his passes with one of the NFL's fastest release times (faster than Brady's). Before a deal can be struck with any team, the Patriots must decide how long Brady can actually play and how much the organization likes Jacoby Brissett as his potential heir apparent.
Even though the price to acquire Garoppolo's services will be steep, his presence could expedite the rebuilding process.
If that option is unavailable, drafting a quarterback remains a very likely scenario. However, this year's class is suspect at best. There are plenty of interesting developmental prospects, but none of them have the appearance of a top-end signal-caller. Where each is drafted, the coach who is leading them and the system in which they play will be of utmost importance.
Deshaun Watson seems like the obvious choice, because of his success, experience and athleticism. He's adept in a system that relies heavily on half-field reads and run-pass options. But that plays against him since he's never been asked to regularly survey the entire field.
A name I keep coming back to is Miami's Brad Kaaya. His value is obviously lower than Watson's, but I view them in the same vein. They're both 21 years old (Their birthdays are only separated by 11 days) and multi-year starters with plenty of untapped potential. The difference is that Watson may cost the team a first-round pick, while Kaaya's value isn't as high. Their upside is similar, though. Kaaya's biggest issues stem from inconsistency in his mechanics.
Normally, I'd argue to take the most polished product and commit to said signal-caller. This year is different. It comes down to the best fit. Kaaya can arguably be as good of a fit as Watson, DeShone Kizer or even Mitch Trubisky. That's how crazy this year's class is.
JM: First, free agency does not provide anyone that would draw my interest. Kirk Cousins, Jay Cutler and Colin Kaepernick all have been seen as Franchise Guys at different times in their career but are not guys the Cleveland Browns should build around. As a stopgap measure, maybe, but Robert Griffin III or Josh McCown can fill that role with experience in Hue Jackson's already under their belt.
Second, the trade market seems like it will start and end with Jimmy Garoppolo and the New England Patriots. The 25-year old has the Patriot rub that will likely raise his cost, either in trade or 2nd contract, even though former Pats QBs have failed in the past. Garoppolo can be a free agent after next season as well. Trading a high pick, or more, then having to pay a virtual unknown just is too much for me.
Finally, the NFL Draft lays in front of the Browns, as it always has, as the answer to ALL the questions. Will it turn out to be a mirage of hope once again or, finally, can the Browns hit? Local guy Mitch Trubisky has risen up the ranks, much like Paxton Lynch did last year, DeShone Kizer is a big, strong-armed QB that fans love and Deshaun Watson has fallen off from the high expectations from last season. Brad Kaaya, Pat Mahomes and Mason Rudolph will get interest as well but will get over drafted.
If I were in charge of the Browns, next year's QB room would be RG3, Cody Kessler and Deshaun Watson. I believe almost all rookie QBs should sit a season so Griffin or Kessler hold the fort for a year, the Browns can be competitive then hand the reigns over to Watson. Where we draft Watson would be the big gamble. At the top of the Draft doesn't seem to fit value but would a trade up be necessary with the way the Eagles are winning?
Watson would be my guy for the future, where to draft him would be the difficult part.
While you might judge a draft class three years later, what are your early takeaways from this regime’s first group?
SOBO: When the Cleveland Browns walked away from April's NFL draft with 14 draft picks, a new day dawned and a different approach became evident.
From the front office's actions, outsiders could see an emphasis placed on football character, production and certain advanced statistics or workout numbers. No singular player was worth more when a plethora could be obtained.
The approach makes sense at a base level, too. The acquisition of more players provides a greater chance of obtaining impact performers. However, any impact has been limited this season for numerous reasons.
Corey Coleman, Carl Nassib, Shon Coleman, Seth DeValve and Trey Caldwell dealt with injuries, which limited their development.
Emmanuel Ogbah has been the team's most consistent rookie performer, but he needs to work on the nuances of rushing the passer to become more effective.
Cody Kessler performed above expectations, but the team continues to search for a true franchise quarterback.
Joe Schobert and Derrick Kindred looked overwhelmed after being rushed into the starting lineup.
And the team's trio of rookie receivers beyond Corey Coleman have yet to make any significant contribution to the offense--unless Ricardo Louis' drops are being discussed.
As such, the NFL's youngest team isn't getting enough from the foundation it built during the recent draft. The final six games will help determine which of these young players can be a large part of the team moving forward as the rebuild continues.
Not all of these players will work out over the long haul, but the organization must hope there is a significant improvement from more than a few between this year and next season.
JM: Always a little bit the optimist, I've seen traits that have me excited about this rookie class. I don't expect much out of rookies, unlike man. I expect them to have their ups and downs, to struggle with the rookie wall and to show some overall improvement as the season goes on.
This year's class has been a little bit of everything. They haven't made quite the impact that I had hoped for even with my limited expectations but they have done enough to raise my hopes.
Coleman's explosiveness, Ogbah's speed, strength and length, Nassib's motor and timing, Spencer Drango earning Hue Jackson's trust on the line and Kessler's overall play have teased us. While that is only five of the fourteen draft picks, they can be important pieces.
Shon Coleman, DeValve, Schobert, Kindred and Caldwell still have plenty of time to develop but none have shown enough to give enough comfort that the Browns have their positions addressed at all.
Year 1 looks like a solid, base draft but not having the Franchise QB or a game-changing defender, so far, is a little concerning.
Who do you agree with more on each issue? Who do you want to see at QB next season? How do you view the Browns 2016 draft class?