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Why The Browns Should Draft Carson Wentz #2 Overall

It is often said that quarterback is the most important position in football, and possibly all of team sports. If that is the case, then there should be a correlation between good quarterback play and winning, and bad quarterback play and losing. In the table below I show each NFL team's passing stats since the Cleveland Browns re-entered the league in 1999:

NFL TeamCompleteAttemptsComp PctYards Passing---TDs------INTs--Passing EffW/L Record-Win Pct-
New England Patriots6,0479,643.62767,14749520591.61181 - 91 - 0.665
Indianapolis Colts6,2559,873.63470,29550925391.05181 - 91 - 0.665
Green Bay Packers6,0409,624.62867,68151525390.57169 - 102 - 1.623
Pittsburgh Steelers5,3248,635.61760,43639425589.87168 - 103 - 1.619
New Orleans Saints6,43110,163.63371,53150228788.84142 - 130 - 0.522
San Diego Chargers5,6809,121.62362,86742626786.07139 - 133 - 0.511
Denver Broncos5,6969,285.61364,18343826285.97161 - 111 - 0.592
Dallas Cowboys5,4678,893.61560,58341529583.43136 - 136 - 0.500
Seattle Seahawks5,2128,614.60556,77738624683.01151 - 121 - 0.555
Philadelphia Eagles5,6509,535.59362,64741825482.35157 - 114 - 1.579
Minnesota Vikings5,3888,712.61858,07938028582.31136 - 135 - 1.502
Houston Texans4,5117,296.61848,29128021281.8797 - 127 - 0.433
Kansas City Chiefs5,2778,745.60357,64234923881.80129 - 143 - 0.474
NFL Average minus Browns5,4659,058.60359,09838026981.17N/AN/A
Atlanta Falcons5,3798,966.60058,11736626180.56134 - 137 - 1.494
Saint Louis Rams5,8389,501.61462,49837730980.37120 - 151 - 1.443
New York Giants5,5939,461.59162,42939728880.14142 - 130 - 0.522
Washington Redskins5,3939,000.59958,06534925480.07117 - 155 - 0.430
San Francisco 49ers5,0488,492.59453,24934223279.79127 - 144 - 1.469
Tennessee Titans5,1958,724.59556,80834425779.71137 - 135 - 0.504
Cincinnati Bengals5,5079,137.60357,50537928879.22128 - 142 - 2.474
Jacksonville Jaguars5,2258,842.59154,82033023878.39117 - 155 - 0.430
Tampa Bay Buccaneers5,3598,969.59855,70834326778.10123 - 149 - 0.452
Carolina Panthers4,9958,564.58355,06935527677.87136 - 135 - 1.502
Buffalo Bills5,1448,620.59753,42932927377.17116 - 156 - 0.426
Oakland Raiders5,2939,098.58256,98534127276.70104 - 168 - 0.382
Baltimore Ravens5,2898,996.58854,52933126676.28157 - 115 - 0.577
New York Jets5,0528,535.59253,09732529275.77135 - 137 - 0.496
Miami Dolphins5,3209,002.59155,28331928475.59130 - 142 - 0.478
Detroit Lions5,86810,046.58461,74037132675.1695 - 177 - 0.349
Arizona Cardinals5,6729,705.58460,85634533574.38120 - 152 - 0.411
Chicago Bears5,2599,010.58453,69034530874.07135 - 137 - 0.496
Cleveland Browns5,0758,832.57551,86329930971.1487 - 185 - 0.320
Clearly, there is a strong correlation between teams with excellent quarterback play and teams with winning records. Teams that had a passer efficiency of greater than 80.00 had an overall record of 2460-2110-6 (.538 winning percentage; 8.6 wins per season); while teams that had a passer efficiency of less than 80.00 had an overall record of 1845-2231-4 (.453 winning percentage; 7.25 wins per season).

The correlation becomes even stronger when we increase the cut-off point slightly. Teams that had a passer efficiency of greater than 82.00 had an overall record of 1721-1267-4 (.576 winning percentage; 9.2 wins per season); while teams that had a passer efficiency of less than 82.00 had an overall record of 2584-3074-6 (.457 winning percentage; 7.3 wins per season).

Conversely, teams with an overall record of .500 or greater had an average passer efficiency rating of 84.48 (going up to 85.94 for teams averaging 9+ wins a season), while sub-.500 teams had an average passer efficiency rating of 77.58.

Therefore, it is not surprising that the Cleveland Browns, with by far the lowest passer efficiency rating (71.14), also had by far the worst overall record (85-187-0; .320 winning percentage; 5.1 wins per season).

There are some anomalies in the above table, most notably the Baltimore Ravens, who posted the NFL's 7th-best record (157-115-0; .577 winning percentage; 9.2 wins per season) and 7th-worst passer efficiency rating (76.28). Of course, the Ravens were able to win a large number of games (and a Super Bowl in 2000) with an historically strong defense, but even they eventually secured their own franchise quarterback (Joe Flacco; 75-47 record; 84.7 passer efficiency rating) who led them to an equally large number of wins and a second Super Bowl victory in 2012.

Some other anomalies occur at the other end of the spectrum, where the Oakland Raiders and the Saint Louis (now Los Angeles) Rams seem to have better passer efficiency ratings than their overall records would suggest. So let's take a closer look at both teams:

Oakland Raiders QBsCompleteAttemptsComp PctYards Passing---TDs------INTs--Passing EffW/L Record-Win Pct-
1999 - 2002 (Gannon)1,3722,167.63315,0971054491.5641 - 23 - 0.641
2003 - 20153,9216,931.56641,88823622872.0563 - 145 - 0.303
When Rich Gannon was playing at a Hall of Fame level (1999 to 2002), the Raiders were one of the best teams in the NFL. Gannon suffered serious injuries in 2003 and 2004, the second of which forced his retirement from football. From 2003 to 2013, the Raiders' revolving door at quarterback was almost as bad as the Browns', with no less than seventeen quarterbacks getting at least one start, and no single quarterback earning more than 28 starts. The Raiders' quarterback situation was not finally stabilized until 2014, when rookie Derek Carr locked down the job - he appears to be the franchise quarterback that the Raiders spent a decade searching for.

Saint Louis Rams QBsCompleteAttemptsComp PctYards Passing---TDs------INTs--Passing EffW/L Record-Win Pct-
1999 - 2003 (Warner)1,8872,903.65022,36316311091.2856 - 24 - 0.700
2004 - 20153,9516,598.59940,13521419975.5764 - 127 - 1.336
The Rams had one of the great offensive juggernauts of all time with running back Marshall Faulk, wide receivers Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt, and quarterback Kurt Warner leading the way. While the Greatest Show on Turf lasted, the Rams were a perennial favorite to win the Super Bowl (and they did so following the 1999 season), but when their quarterback play deteriorated the wins dried up. The Rams have had sixteen starting quarterbacks since 2004 and they are still searching for the face of their franchise.

Continued below in Comments section....
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Now let's get back to your Cleveland Browns. The Browns' quarterbacks have a passer efficiency rating a full ten points below the NFL average (71.14 to 81.17). This is obviously a great disparity, but what exactly does it mean on the football field? Let's assume that the Browns and their "average" opponent each throw 40 passes in a game, and that each QB completes passes at his normal rate (.575 for Browns' QB, .603 for average QB). Here's what the box score would look like:

QuarterbackCompleteAttemptsComp PctYards Passing---TDs------INTs--Passing Eff
NFL Average-12440.6002790081.15
NFL Average-22440.6002031081.56
In other words, in every game in which the Browns play, their running attack has to generate 76 more yards, or 6 more points, than their opponent's just to equalize the poor quarterback play; or the Browns' defense and special teams have to create big plays to shorten the field to give their inept passing attack a chance to succeed. In either case, or any combination thereof, the Browns are putting a lot of pressure on the rest of the team in order to make up for the deficiencies of their quarterbacks.

It's really amazing when you think about it - the Browns' poor quarterback play costs them, on average, a touchdown a game. That is quite a hole to dig out from, especially when the rest of the team (running attack, defense, special teams) hasn't been very good either.

Now let's look at an actual head-to-head opponent, the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have had the NFL's fourth-best passer efficiency rating (89.87) over the past seventeen seasons:

QuarterbackCompleteAttemptsComp PctYards Passing---TDs------INTs--Passing Eff
So in the statistical head-to-head with the Steelers, Browns quarterbacks would be out gained by 140 yards; or by 60 yards and 6 points; or by 12 points. This goes a long way toward explaining why the Browns have a record of 5-28 against the Steelers since 1999.
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I think I've established that there is at least a correlation between excellent quarterback play and winning in the NFL. Now the question becomes: Where do NFL teams find excellent quarterbacks? Most fans' intuitive response would be: In the first round of the draft. Let's see if intuition mirrors reality in this case.

I will analyze all quarterbacks who started at least one game in 2015. The table below compares the career performances of all quarterbacks drafted in first round or very high second round (up to pick #36), versus all other quarterbacks:

QuarterbackCompleteAttemptsComp PctYards Passing---TDs------INTs--Passing Eff
Top 36 picks55,54489,212.623649,9874,2382,36889.10
All others23,02537,194.619267,7331,70599087.86
The combined passer efficiency ratings of both groups are remarkably close, with the difference being almost statistically insignificant.

However, let's compare some other numbers between the two groups, namely passing yardage (649,987 to 267,733) and touchdown passes (4,238 to 1,705). The quarterbacks in the first group (top 36 picks) have thrown for almost 2.5 times the number of yards and touchdowns as those in the second group (all others). Why is that? Because there are far more franchise quarterbacks in the first group than in the second group. Although franchise quarterbacks can be found almost anywhere, this statistic indicates that a team has a much better chance of finding a top quarterback near the top of the draft.

Let's drift away from the numbers for a moment and undertake a somewhat subjective analysis of franchise quarterbacks. By my count, there were eighteen legitimate franchise quarterbacks in the NFL in 2015, with fifteen of those being drafted in the first round (Cutler, Flacco, Luck, E. Manning, P. Manning, Newton, Palmer, Rivers, Rodgers, Roethlisberger, Ryan, Smith, and Stafford) or high second round (Brees, Dalton). The three remaining franchise quarterbacks were Russell Wilson (3rd round), Tom Brady (6th round), and Tony Romo (undrafted).

In addition to the established franchise quarterbacks, there are nine young signal callers who appear to be on that career path. Six of those nine were high draft picks (Bortles, Bridgewater, Carr, Mariota, Tannehill, Winston), while the remaining three were lower draft picks (Cousins, Osweiler, Taylor).

Add in a pair of former phenoms and current reclamation projects (Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick), and that gives us 23 actual or potential franchise quarterbacks coming from the top 36 picks in the draft, and only 6 coming outside of the top 36 picks.

Now let's look at another metric, namely quarterbacks who have won the Super Bowl. The ultimate goal of every NFL team is to win a championship, so it makes sense to analyze the quarterbacks who have actually won it all. The table below shows all fifty Super Bowl winning quarterbacks, with his number of Super Bowl victories as a starting quarterback, the round that he was selected in the draft, and his selection number in the draft:

Super Bowl Winning QBSB WinsRnd #Pick #
Terry Bradshaw411
Troy Aikman311
John Elway211
Eli Manning211
Peyton Manning211
Jim Plunkett211
Joe Namath111
Steve Young111
Bob Griese214
Len Dawson115
Jim McMahon115
Trent Dilfer116
Phil Simms117
Ben Roethlisberger2111
Doug Williams1117
Joe Flacco1118
Aaron Rodgers1124
Drew Brees1232
Brett Favre1233
Ken Stabler1252
Jeff Hostetler1359
Russell Wilson1375
Joe Montana4382
Joe Theisman1499
Johnny Unitas19102
Roger Staubach210129
Mark Rypien16146
Tom Brady46199
Bart Starr217200
Brad Johnson19227
Kurt Warner1UFAUFA
To summarize the above table: 17 of 50 Super Bowl winners (34%) were the top overall selection, and 30 of 50 Super Bowl winners (60%) were picked in the first round or the very top of the second round (Drew Brees at #32; Brett Favre at #33).

It is certainly true that a team can find a franchise quarterback in the first round (Aaron Rodgers), the middle rounds (Russell Wilson), the late rounds (Tom Brady), as an undrafted free agent (Tony Romo), or even bagging groceries (former QB Kurt Warner). However, an NFL team is most likely to find a franchise quarterback - and a Super Bowl winning quarterback - at the very top of the draft.
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In 2016, the Cleveland Browns have two picks at the top of the NFL draft (#2 and #32). Isn't it about time that the Browns finally figure this thing out and draft their franchise quarterback? Isn't seventeen years of putrid quarterback play enough already?

Well, that argument seems to make sense to a rational person, but Browns fans have never been known for rationality. In fact, the typical Browns fan has an aversion to spending a high draft pick on a quarterback almost as strong as a young child has to taking medicine, even though doing both have been proven to cure what ails you. Here's a sampling of some of the counter-arguments of Browns fans:

1) The Browns have too many holes to waste the #2 pick on a quarterback. An analysis of the numbers - together with 40+ years of observing the game - lead me to conclude that you are never "wasting" a pick if you end up with a franchise quarterback.

But more to the point, such as it is: Every team has holes, and the Browns have more holes than most if not all of the other teams in the NFL. But the Browns' biggest hole - the immense black hole into which this team has been imploding for the past seventeen seasons - is at the quarterback position. The Browns have suffered the worst quarterbacking in the NFL since 1999 and it's not even close: the worst passer efficiency rating (71.14), which is 3 points below the next worst team, 10 points below the NFL average, and 20 points below the NFL's gold standard passing attacks. The worst completion percentage (.575), which is nearly a full percentage point below the next worst teams, nearly three percentage points below the NFL average, and nearly 6 percentage points below the league's best. The fewest yards passing. The fewest touchdown passes. The only team with more interceptions than touchdown passes. By every metric, simply the worst. And not coincidentally, the Browns also own the NFL's worst record since 1999.

The Browns will continue to struggle until they find their franchise quarterback, the one who has been missing since 1999 (and in reality since the glory days of Bernie Kosar in the mid- to late-1980s). The Browns can plug holes here and there, but until this team stops the floodgates at the quarterback position it will remain underwater indefinitely.
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2) A rookie quarterback will fail without talent around him. This is a corollary to counter-argument #1. And it might in fact be true. Teams are bad for a reason, and that reason is generally poor quarterback play. However, getting a franchise quarterback is not always a quick fix, it is often just the start of the process.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were arguably the NFL's worst franchise from their inception in 1933 through the 1960s, with an overall record of 157-253-18 (.388 winning percentage) and only seven winning seasons in 37 years. The Steelers hit rock bottom in 1969, when the team went 1-13-0. In the following draft, the Steelers used their #1 overall pick to select quarterback Terry Bradshaw. The team saw somewhat of an immediate improvement with Bradshaw at the helm, going 5-9-0 in 1970 and 6-8-0 in 1971. With some savvy talent evaluation, the Steelers were able to fill in the holes around Bradshaw, and three years after selecting him they were a bona fide juggernaut. From 1972 to 1979, the Steelers had a regular season record of 88-27-1 (.763 winning percentage) and won four Super Bowls. Of course, the Steelers have experienced a renaissance since 2004 under their new franchise quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger (record of 124-66-0; .653 winning percentage; no losing seasons; two Super Bowl victories in three appearances).

Terry Bradshaw is certainly not a unique example. The once-proud Dallas Cowboys gradually declined after their franchise quarterbacks Roger Staubach and Danny White retired; by 1988, they posted the league's worst record of 3-13. In the ensuing draft, the Cowboys used their #1 overall selection to nab quarterback Troy Aikman. Playing for a team full of holes, Aikman suffered through a horrendous 1-15 season that saw him lose all 11 of his starts, complete just 52.9% of his passes, and throw only 9 touchdowns versus 18 interceptions, for an awful passer efficiency rating of 55.7. The Cowboys regained respectability in 1990 with a 7-9 record, and then they blossomed into the best team in the league. From 1991 to 1996, the Cowboys posted six straight 10+ win seasons, an overall record of 70-26-0 (.729 winning percentage), and three Super Bowl victories.

Similarly, Peyton Manning's Indianapolis Colts went 3-13 during his rookie campaign of 1998, as he completed only 56.7% of his passes; threw 26 touchdowns to 28 interceptions; and had a passer efficiency rating of 71.2. Manning quickly rebounded after his rough start, posting a regular season record of 183-66 (.735 winning percentage) as a starting quarterback from 1999 to 2015; becoming the NFL's career passing leader with 71,940 yards and 539 touchdown passes (career passer efficiency rating of 96.5); and winning a pair of Super Bowls along the way.

Peyton's younger brother Eli also struggled as a rookie, compiling a 1-6 record as a starter, completing just 48.2% of his passes, throwing 6 touchdowns against 9 interceptions, and posting a 55.4 passer efficiency rating. Although Eli has never been quite the superstar as his older brother, he is a franchise quarterback in his own right and also owns a pair of Super Bowl victories.

The next generation of potential franchise quarterbacks has mostly struggled during their early years. Derek Carr was 3-13 as a rookie, but improved to 7-9 during his sophomore campaign; his passer efficiency went up as well, from 76.6 to 91.1. Blake Bortles's record went from 3-10 to 5-11, while his passer efficiency increased from 69.5 to 88.2. Teddy Bridgewater was 6-6 as a rookie with a passer efficiency of 85.2; in his second season, he went 11-5 with a playoff appearance and a passer efficiency rating of 88.7. The two top picks of the 2015 draft - Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota - each had a losing record as a starting quarterback (6-10 and 3-9, respectively), but their fine efficiency ratings (84.2 and 91.5) bode well for the future. It would not be surprising if one (or more) of these young quarterbacks turned out to be the next [insert great QB here]. In fact, it would surprising if that did not happen.

Not every quarterback is going to be Ben Roethlisberger, going 22-3 out of the gate and winning a Super Bowl in his second season. Even Hall of Famers like Bradshaw and Aikman and the Manning brothers often times start out slowly. If the Browns select a quarterback #2 overall, I will fully expect him to fail for a year or two playing for a crappy team. But if he's the right guy, then he will learn from his failures, overcome them, and eventually develop into a quality football player. The key to success is getting the right guy to be the face of your franchise, and then filling in the holes around him. That is the proven path to long-term success, and to the Super Bowl.
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3) The Browns need an immediate impact player, not a quarterback who needs a year or two of seasoning. In the 2007 draft, the Browns selected left tackle Joe Thomas with the #3 overall pick. Thomas started from day one and has never missed a snap throughout his career. Thomas has made the Pro Bowl for each of his nine seasons in the league, and has been first team All Pro six times and second team All Pro twice more. Thomas is one of the top ten Browns players of all time, probably top five, and he is a sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer after he retires. Joe Thomas is the very definition of an immediate impact player.

The Cleveland Browns have a record of 47-97 (.326 winning percentage) during Joe Thomas's tenure. Some impact.

You don't win in the NFL with impact players, you win with impact quarterbacks. That is a bit of hyperbole, of course, but only a bit. At the very least, you need to get the impact quarterback in place first before you surround him with other impact players. If you don't get the impact quarterback, you probably aren't going to win anything regardless of how many other impact players you have. The list of Super Bowl winning quarterbacks - the vast majority of whom are or will be in the Hall of Fame - should be ample evidence for that proposition.

But what about a quarterback having to sit for a year or two? Isn't that guy by definition not a franchise quarterback?

In 2005, the Green Bay Packers selected Aaron Rodgers with the #24 pick even though the team already had future Hall of Famer Brett Favre at the helm. Rodgers sat and waited his turn. During his first three seasons, Rodgers saw mop up duty in 7 games, completing 35 of 59 passes for 329 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Since taking over the team in 2008, Rodgers has become arguably the best quarterback in the NFL (and it's a pretty easy argument to win): a record of 80-39 (.672 winning percentage), 2,598 completions on 3,988 attempts (65.1%) for 32,070 yards, 256 touchdowns and 64 interceptions (4.00 TD/INT ratio), and a passer efficiency rating of 104.6. And don't forget about that Super Bowl victory in 2011.

Aaron Rodgers might be the best example of a quarterback who sat and developed behind an established starter, but he is not the only one. Tony Romo spent a year on the practice squad and two-and-a-half more on the bench before becoming the Dallas Cowboys' franchise quarterback.

San Diego's Drew Brees hardly played during his rookie season, sitting behind journeyman Doug Flutie, and didn't really come into his own until he was traded to New Orleans after five years; meanwhile, Philip Rivers was stuck behind Brees for two seasons until the aforementioned trade gave him the opportunity to develop into the Chargers' franchise quarterback.

Even the great Tom Brady sat for a year before supplanting former #1 overall pick Drew Bledsoe in New England.

Tyrod Taylor languished on the Baltimore Ravens' bench for four seasons before having a break-out year (99.4 passer efficiency rating) for the Buffalo Bills in 2015.

Warren Moon had to spend six seasons in the CFL before embarking on his Hall of Fame NFL career, and Kurt Warner was bagging groceries before he became the ringleader of the Greatest Show on Turf.

Sometimes a quarterback needs to sit for a while before he can develop into a franchise player. The Browns are going to be a bad team in 2016, maybe the worst team in the NFL. Do the Browns really need an immediate impact safety or linebacker? Would such a player make any difference to the Browns' short- or long-term success? Wouldn't it be better if the Browns simply took their franchise quarterback this year and let him develop, so that he might be able to lead the team to success a few years down the road?
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4) The Browns have blown too many first round picks on quarterbacks, so they shouldn't blow another one this year. News flash: The Browns' talent evaluation has sucked since 1999. Yes, the Browns have missed on first round quarterbacks (Couch, Quinn, Weeden, Manziel), but the team's brain trust (and I use that term very loosely) has also missed on first round running backs (Green, Richardson); wide receivers (Edwards); tight ends (Winslow); offensive linemen (Faine, possibly Erving); defensive linemen (Brown, Warren, Taylor, possibly Shelton); linebackers (Wimbley, Mingo); and defensive backs (Gilbert).

The Browns have also missed on quarterbacks in the third round (Charlie Frye, Colt McCoy); the fourth round (Luke McCown); the sixth round (Spurgeon Wynn); and through trades and free agency (Kelly Holcomb, Jeff Garcia, Jake Delhomme, Jason Campbell, Ken Dorsey, etc. etc. etc.). The Browns have spent the last seventeen years failing to find a quarterback, and they've done a fabulous job of doing so - 24 swings and 24 misses. Sheer perfection!

But ignoring the problem at quarterback will not make it go away. The Browns have a gaping hole at the most important position in football (and perhaps all of team sports) and they must do something to fill it. As I have shown above, the best place to find a franchise quarterback is at the top of the draft, and the Browns have had many opportunities to do so since 1999. The franchise started off on the wrong foot by selecting Tim Couch over Donovan McNabb with their very first draft pick, and then compounded that mistake by passing on Drew Brees (32nd pick in 2001); Ben Roethlisberger (11th pick in 2004); Aaron Rodgers (24th pick in 2005); Andy Dalton (35th pick in 2011); Ryan Tannehill (8th pick in 2012); Teddy Bridgewater (32nd pick in 2014); and Derek Carr (36th pick in 2014). The Browns' failure to find a quarterback at the top of the draft reflects their lack of talent evaluation, not the lack of available talent.

The Browns aren't the only team to have whiffed on quarterbacks in the draft, they have just done it better and for longer than anybody else. The Cincinnati Bengals selected mega-bust Akili Smith #3 on the 1999 draft; gave up too soon on Carson Palmer, the #1 overall pick in the 2003 draft; and finally got their franchise quarterback in Andy Dalton, the #35 pick in 2011.

The Jacksonville Jaguars missed on Byron Leftwich (#7 in 2003) and Blaine Gabbert (#10 in 2011) before landing Blake Bortles (#3 in 2014).

Likewise, the Tennessee Titans missed on Vince Young (#3 in 2006) and Jake Locker (#8 in 2011) before getting Marcus Mariota (#2 in 2015).

The Baltimore Ravens wasted a first round pick on Kyle Boller (#19 in 2003) before drafting Super Bowl winner Joe Flacco (#18 in 2008).

More recently the Minnesota Vikings busted out with Christian Ponder (#12 in 2011) before hitting it big with Teddy Bridgewater (#32 in 2014).

The Miami Dolphins spent a trio of second round picks in consecutive years on worthless quarterbacks (John Beck in 2007; Chad Henne in 2008; Pat White in 2009) before landing Ryan Tannehill (#8 in 2012).

The Oakland Raiders got burned big time by JaMarcus Russell (#1 in 2007) but were not afraid to take a chance on Derek Carr (#36 in 2014).

Even the normally sane Denver Broncos blew a first round pick on Tim Tebow (#25 in 2010) before going "all in" on free agent Peyton Manning. It was a move that worked out fairly well for them, as Manning put up record-breaking numbers in leading the team to a regular season record of 46-12 (.793 winning percentage) and a victory in the 2016 Super Bowl.

Alas, there is no Peyton Manning in the current free agent market, and there may not be another one available for many years to come. So the Browns must look to the draft if they are going to find their franchise quarterback. And like so many other teams have done, the Browns must try and try and try and keep on trying until they finally get it right. It is bad to blow a first round pick on a bum quarterback; it is worse to pass on the next great one because you are gun shy.
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5) The Browns can get a franchise quarterback in the third round. Maybe, but it's not likely. The vast majority of the current franchise quarterbacks in the NFL were selected early in the draft (pick #36 or higher); as were most of the up-and-coming franchise quarterbacks. It is actually quite rare to find a franchise guy lower down in the draft, and any team that relies on that strategy will likely be doomed to fail. It's kind of like drawing on an inside straight.

And besides, if the Browns really feel that some prospect with a third-round grade - Cardale Jones or Dak Prescott or Christian Hackenberg - is going to develop into a legitimate franchise quarterback, shouldn't they just draft that guy at #2 and be done with it?
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6) There's no quarterback in this draft worth the #2 overall pick. This is a fantasy that exists only in the minds of Browns fans. I have analyzed 25 mock drafts (CBS, NFL Network, Kiper, McShay, and others), and almost all of them have both Carson Wentz and Jared Goff firmly in the top 10 picks. The table below shows where each quarterback is selected in the various mock drafts that I considered:

Quarterback#2 Overall#4 Overall#6 Overall#7 Overall#8 Overall#15 Overall2nd Round
Carson Wentz17014111
Jared Goff52112230
Both Wentz and Goff are consensus top-7 picks, and a two-thirds majority believes that Wentz is best choice for the Browns at #2 overall.

As a brief side note, both Sports Illustrated and USAToday are reporting that the San Francisco 49ers are looking to obtain the #1 pick in the draft so that they can select Carson Wentz.

Now I realize that mock drafts are based not only on the talent of the individual players, but also on the needs of the teams drafting. That is why none of the mock drafters has either quarterback going #3 to San Diego (Philip Rivers), #5 to Jacksonville (Blake Bortles), or #6 to Baltimore (Joe Flacco), while a lot of them are projecting one of the quarterbacks to Cleveland (no quality QB for 17 years). In order to eliminate the "team need" factor, I also analyzed nine top prospect lists that looked just at the talent levels of the various prospects.

Draft AnalystWentz RatingGoff Rating
Daniel Jeremiah78
Draft Geek41
Joel Klatt45
CBS Sports75
Each of the draft analysts has both quarterbacks in their top 12, with Wentz (5.89 average) being rated slightly ahead of Goff (7.00 average).

The draft experts generally agree that both Carson Wentz and Jared Goff are worthy of being selected in the top 10. The Browns have a top-10 selection and need a franchise quarterback. The Browns must draft one of these guys and begin the long slow process of turning this franchise around. The foundation of almost every great team is a great quarterback.

Now the question remains: Which quarterback should the Browns select? The experts prefer Wentz slightly over Goff, and I agree. Both Wentz and Goff supposedly interviewed well and neither has any apparent off-the-field concerns. Wentz is bigger and more athletic than Goff, has bigger hands and a better arm, and played in pro style offense while Goff played in a variation of the "air raid" offenses that are so popular in the Big XII conference.
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7) Just wait until next year.... The Browns drafted Tim Couch #1 overall in the 1999 draft, and they've been waiting until next year ever since. Now is the time for the Browns to get their franchise quarterback.

But what if the Browns could get Deshaun Watson next year? For those of you who don't know, Watson is Clemson's superstar quarterback who is already projected to be the #1 overall pick in the 2017 draft. He would be a great addition to Browns, but....

(a) The Browns would have to lose enough games to earn the #1 pick in the draft, and as inept as the team has been since 1999, they have accomplished this dubious feat only once (2000). There is no guarantee that the Browns will be bad enough in 2016 to make it to the top of the 2017 draft.

(b) Watson still has a season left of college football, and his stock could certainly drop through poor performance and/or injury. He is considered to be an NFL franchise quarterback now, but his situation could be completely different this time next year.

Next year is NOW. Draft one of the top quarterback prospects (slight preference to Wentz) and get the Browns headed in the right direction for the first time in seventeen very long years.
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I hate to pick one thing out of a great deal of work, but this one point fits the only counter argument I can come up with best
There's no quarterback in this draft worth the #2 overall pick. This is a fantasy that exists only in the minds of Browns fans. I have analyzed 25 mock drafts (CBS, NFL Network, Kiper, McShay, and others), and almost all of them have both Carson Wentz and Jared Goff firmly in the top 10 picks.
I know you aren't coming right out and saying it, but it seems like a secondary point being made here is that QBs who are good come from the first round, so if you draft a QB in the first round he'll be good. Again....I know that's not your intended point, but it kind of becomes the point. Analyzing mock drafts that are using the same logic doesn't really make that strong of a point. If everybody thinks that a QB should always go early in the draft, and they just look at the best QBs in this draft.....of course Wentz and Goff will show up in the top of the draft. It still doesn't address the possibility that Wentz is a scary pick at 2 because you don't know what to expect from a 1AA guy who only started for 1 year.

Obviously your stats make sense going back and seeing that good QBs come earlier in the draft.....but so do bad ones.
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I hate to pick one thing out of a great deal of work, but this one point fits the only counter argument I can come up with best
I know you aren't coming right out and saying it, but it seems like a secondary point being made here is that QBs who are good come from the first round, so if you draft a QB in the first round he'll be good. Again....I know that's not your intended point, but it kind of becomes the point. Analyzing mock drafts that are using the same logic doesn't really make that strong of a point. If everybody thinks that a QB should always go early in the draft, and they just look at the best QBs in this draft.....of course Wentz and Goff will show up in the top of the draft. It still doesn't address the possibility that Wentz is a scary pick at 2 because you don't know what to expect from a 1AA guy who only started for 1 year.

Obviously your stats make sense going back and seeing that good QBs come earlier in the draft.....but so do bad ones.
I hear you. Every top draft pick is "scary" (to use your term) - Joey Bosa might be the next Courtney Brown, Laremy Tunsil might be the next Tony Mandarich, Myles Jack might be the next Brian Bosworth, etc. Quarterbacks are particularly scary not only because the importance of the position, but also because they do seem to bust out at a higher rate than other positions. For every tremendous success like Peyton Manning and Donovan McNabb and Andrew Luck, there is an equally spectacular bust like Ryan Leaf and Akili Smith and JaMarcus Russell, and a whole bunch of journeymen like Mark Sanchez and Sam Bradford and Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder and Jake Locker and Robert Griffin III and so on and so forth.

Carson Wentz isn't a sure thing like Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck, but most franchise quarterbacks were not sure things when they were drafted. And the Browns don't need the next Manning or Luck - they would be fine with the next Ben Roethlisberger or Joe Flacco, two quarterbacks to whom Wentz has been favorably compared.

Carson Wentz might be a franchise quarterback, he might be a journeyman, or he might even be an outright bust. If the Browns draft Jalen Ramsey or Myles Jack or Joey Bosa, then they will definitely not get the franchise quarterback that they have been searching for over the past seventeen years. But with Carson Wentz (or Jared Goff) they might. That might be a scary risk, but it's a risk worth taking.
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Reaching in the draft because your team stinks and the other qbs are worse than normal is the kind of logic that keeps a franchise in the basement.

I don't think there's anything about either qb that resembles a top 3 pick but desperation is distorting that.
Did you even read the article? I doubt it very much, because this is exactly the kind of knee-jerk reaction that is so typical of Browns fans.

You certainly didn't read the part about most NFL draft experts agreeing that Wentz (and Goff) are solid top-10 picks. I'm not prepared to accept your assessment - that neither quarterback resembles a top 3 pick - over that of numerous draft experts who believe that both quarterbacks (especially Wentz) are definitely worthy of such a selection.

Oh, and I didn't mention this in my article, but NFL Films' analyst Greg Cosell thinks that Carson Wentz is more talented than both Jameis Winston (#1 pick in 2015) and Marcus Mariota (#2 pick in 2015). Here's the LINK, which you will probably ignore because is doesn't fit in with your narrative.

Oh, and NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock says the same thing, that Wentz (and Goff) are both better prospect than either Winston and Mariota. Here's another LINK for you to ignore.

But Josh Winslow says that Carson Wentz isn't worthy of a top-3 pick. Case closed.

Worst pass efficiency rating (71.14) since 1999.

Worst record (85 - 187 - 0) since 1999.

Not a coincidence.
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I'm a fan of a franchise that has never recovered from the Heath Shuler draft.

A top-3 pick and top-10 pick are very different things. A very flawed player can sneak into the top-10 with a great combine or certain measurables or potential. A top-3 pick is typically a pretty safe bet or should be.

If you think Carson Wentz is worthy of a top-3 pick, then take him. Obviously they aren't consulting with me nor should they. In my opinion, in a typical QB class, Wentz is more of a later top-10 guy in my opinion, while Goff could sneak in there for the right team but is more likely to slid to the mid first round.

I've read a number of posts from you which seem to flip the script in order to justify his selection.

Don't take him because that's the realm where most great Qbs are found. Take him if you are convinced he's one of them.

Don't take him because of what happened after drafting non-QB Joe Thomas, which NFL.com said to do again again in their re-draft. They were one spot away from getting Megatron, and two from being able to take JaMarcus Russell. Soon after that Peterson, Landry, WIllis, Lynch, Revis and Hall were taken. They stunk because they had almost no picks after that for two years and kept struggling in the draft after that.

Would Wentz be taken before either Winston or Mariota? Absolutely not ahead of Jameis and I'm skeptical that he'd go before Marcus.

And besides, if the Browns really feel that some prospect with a third-round grade - Cardale Jones or Dak Prescott or Christian Hackenberg - is going to develop into a legitimate franchise quarterback, shouldn't they just draft that guy at #2 and be done with it?
If they're truly sure? I guess, though I'd argue they should still trade down and take him later in the first.
If they simply like his potential of becoming that? Absolutely not.
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