NFL Talk: Who can turn the Browns’ franchise around?
So, it’s that time of the year again. The Cleveland Browns are projected to possibly have two Top-5 picks again, including the first overall pick in the 2018 draft. This comes after a season that will likely land them in the history books as one the worst seasons ever by a team next to the 2008 Detroit Lions (0-16) and the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-14).
Although the Browns’ problems stem from many things, the main focus of their struggles lies in the offense. In terms of yards/game, it ranks 27th in the league, compared to an underrated defense that ranks 12th in the league. These offensive woes can be traced to one central position: Quarterback. In the past, the Browns have been notorious for not being able to find a solid QB, as well as passing up on some pretty notable ones in the draft. These include Deshaun Watson, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr, and Jimmy Garoppolo. After passing on these big-name quarterbacks, 2017 saw starting quarterback Deshone Kizer out of Notre Dame finish with an awful 23.9 QBR. He only threw nine touchdowns and had a league-worst twenty-one interceptions. (I mean at least he leads the league in something).
One thing is certain: with the number one overall pick, the Browns MUST go QB.
Here’s the likely candidates, and why each could or could not be a fit for the Browns:
Josh Rosen, UCLA
Notable statistics: (2017) 26 TD, 10 INT, 146. 3 QBR, 3717 Pass Yds. 62.5 Completion percentage
Out of the top five Quarterbacks in this draft, Rosen seems to be the most pro-ready due to his poise in the pocket and his ability to make “NFL type throws”. The clearest example was the pivotal last second touchdown he threw in the comeback win against Texas A&M. Rosen, who was a highly touted recruit out of Mater Dei High School, has since drawn comparison to last year’s number one pick Jared Goff due to his massive arm as well as his pro-style play. For that reason, this could make Rosen a perfect fit for Cleveland. However, his ability to win (especially in Cleveland) will be questioned after his Bruins finished with a dull 6-7 record in 2017.
Sam Darnold, USC
Notable statistics: (2016) 31 TD, 9 INT, 161.1 QBR, 3068 Pass Yds. 67.2 Completion percentage.
(2017) 26 TD,13 INT, 148.1, 4143 Pass Yds. 63.1 Completion Percentage. (only QB in USC history to throw for 4,000 yards in a season.)
Darnold is an explosive thrower with a candid ability to use the whole field, anticipate windows, and fit the ball into tight spots. Darnold bested Rosen in the wins category, as he led the trojans to an 11-3 record and a Pac-12 conference title. Unlike Rosen, though, Darnold has been said to be more jittery and jumpy and needs to improve as a pocket passer. He also threw 13 interceptions in 2017. The upside is big for Darnold, but development is needed.
Josh Allen, Wyoming
Notable Statistics: (2017) 16 TD, 6 INT, 127.8 QBR, 1812 Pass Yds. 56.3 Completion percentage
Allen is the surprise prospect of these five. In the recent months of the season he has flown onto everybody’s radar. Although his stats aren’t anything to marvel at, his play making ability is. He can make things happen that look like they’re out of a video game. He has a very strong arm and is mobile. He also has great size at 6 feet 5 inches and 233 pounds. The main question is how he’ll do against better competition…but then again, we asked the same about Carson Wentz.
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Notable statistics: (2015) 36 TD, 7 INT, 3700 Pass Yds. 173.3 QBR, 68.1 Completion percentage
(2016) 40 TD, 8 INT, 3965 Pass Yds. 196.4 QBR, 70.9 Completion percentage
(2017) 43 TD, 6 INT, 4627 Pass Yds. 198.9 QBR, 70.5 Completion percentage
2017 Heisman Trophy Winner
Baker Mayfield, to me, is the most interesting choice the browns will have on draft day. The numbers speak for themselves. His stats leave everyone in the dust, and even more importantly, Mayfield possess a sought-after attribute that can’t be taught: he can “rally the troops”; he’s a born leader. He’s a two-time walk-on, fire filled, tough, passionate, gritty player. The only reason the Browns might run away in terror from even the thought of taking Mayfield is memories of one player: Johnny Manziel. Mayfield’s on and off field issues may concern the Browns (and rightfully so), but he may just be what we all hoped Manziel would be. It’s a risk, but I think the Browns should pull the trigger.
Lamar Jackson, Louisville
Notable Statistics: (2016) 51 total TD (30 Passing/ 21 Rushing), 9 INT, 3543 Pass Yards, 1571 Rushing Yards, 148.8 QBR.
(2017) 45 total TD (27 Passing/ 18 Rushing), 10 INT, 3660 Pass Yards, 1601 Rushing Yards, 146.6 QBR.
2016 Heisman Trophy Winner
Immensely athletic, Jackson has Michael Vick type of ability with an arm that has a tremendous upside. He has showcased instances in which he can make great throws, and as for him as a ball carrier, he is great in the open field. He also shows flashes of ability to fit the ball into tight windows, but needs to develop as a more consistently accurate passer (57% Career completion percentage). Overall, don’t expect him to go number one to the Browns, but he does have top ten pick potential.
In conclusion, my final rankings on who the Browns should take are in this order:
By: Victor Mendoza