Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Take quarterback later 

Make no mistake about it. The Browns definitely need a quality quarterback as they embark on the Hue Jackson era.

But they also need help in other areas – perhaps not as vital as quarterback – and this year’s crop of college quarterbacks does not make one exactly froth with anticipation and excitement as the draft approaches.

This is not a prime quarterbacks class this year. There are no Andrew Lucks or Peyton Mannings or Eli Mannings out there. No quarterbacks who can come right in and make a difference.

But there is one high quality player, a can’t-miss player who can make a difference and who most likely will be available at No. 2 when National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell places the Browns on the clock.

The Browns need – and Jackson should see this right away when he looks at the films of last season – a pass rush in the absolute worst way. And whattaya know. There will be a player who can help in that department sitting at No. 2 ready and waiting for them.

Joey Bosa might be from Florida, but he played right down the street from Cleveland (figuratively speaking) and played himself right into the hearts of Ohio State fans everywhere. Did so as a freshman and hasn’t stopped.

Jackson, whose reputation as an offensive guru and quarterback whisperer preceded his arrival in Cleveland, knows the Browns do not have a legitimate get-them-to-the-playoffs type of quarterback on board now.

That’s probably why he recently said, “If there is a quarterback at No. 2 (in the college draft) or No. 32 (top of the second round) who is . . . the best fit for our organization, our team, we need to get him. I do believe this team needs a quarterback.”

Jared Goff of California, Paxton Lynch of Memphis and North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz are the top-rated quarterbacks coming out, but none are what you’d call ready-to-play-now quarterbacks.

And that’s what the Browns need as they install yet another offensive scheme, their fourth in four years. With some decent veteran quarterbacks about to become free agents, Jackson would be best served by someone who has a résumé that warrants immediate starting status.

That’s not to say the Browns should not take a quarterback in the draft. It’s to say they should not take a quarterback as early as the second pick of the entire draft because there are other more important needs. And none of the top quarterbacks are worthy of the overall second pick.

Grabbing Bosa in the first round fulfills the goal of drafting the best player available regardless of position. Many draft experts have placed the play-making defensive end at the top of their boTake quartterback later

He would be a perfect fit for a defense that needs personality, needs a pulse, needs someone off whom the rest of the defense can feed and make plays. A perfect example of that is Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly, the linchpin in the solid Panthers’ defense.

Playing defense means playing aggressively, playing with passion, playing with a distinct purpose. Bosa has more than proven he’s that kind of player. No matter where he played on the Buckeyes’ defensive line, his motor was always churning in the highest gear.

He does not take plays off and is clearly a transformative player who can come in right away and make a difference. He’s got the size, talent and bellicose attitude the Browns need to be effective. He possesses a quality the Browns need badly. Impact.

If Jackson and whomever the Browns hire as their top personnel man insist on drafting a quarterback with a high pick, Wentz should be there at the top of the second round. Goff and Lynch will be long gone.

Taking Wentz there, even though others might be rated higher on the Browns’ board, satisfies the quarterback need, and he can learn from whomever the Browns sign as a free agent. Assuming, of course, that’s the route they take.

Jackson has to be patient. This shouldn’t be a quick-fix situation for him. It will take time. Even his owner has admitted that. Better to take it slow and steady instead of making mistakes along the way in an effort to get competitive right now.

It makes much more sense for the Browns to make Bosa the top pick even if it means they have to trade up to get him should the Tennessee Titans also have designs on him.

To select a Goff or Lynch with the first pick and then take someone with weaker credentials than a quarterback in the second round does not improve the overall picture. Bosa and Wentz give them the best of both worlds.

The 6-6, 235-pound Wentz, who has an NFL arm, became a starter in his junior year at North Dakota State. He missed half of this past season with a broken right wrist, but returned to lead the Bison to the Division I Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) title.

In seven games, he threw for 1,151 yards, 17 touchdowns and only four interceptions. In his final two seasons, he threw for 4,762 yards, 42 scores and 14 picks. He also proved an able scrambler, running 216 times for 1,028 yards and 12 touchdowns the last two seasons.

At this point, the Browns need more core players; those payers who can make an immediate difference on and off the field. Bosa fills that need at the top of the first round, not a quarterback.


  1. Okay Rich, two questions come to mind:
    1) Is Bosa the same kind of high quality, can't-miss player like Clowney was?
    2) How many quarterbacks from NCAA Division I schools have ever succeeded in the NFL?


  2. No,he's much, much better. Clowney was a one-play-in-a-bowl game type of player. Bosa has been doing this for three years in Columbus. Other than his three offsides game against Michigan State and the stupid targeting penalty he took against Notre Dame, he has been terrific.

  3. As for the quarterbacks, there are Dave Krieg (Milton College), Jon Kitna (Central Washington), Joe Flacco (Delaware) and -- I could be wrong here -- Phil Simms from Morehead State when it was a lower division school.

    1. Lets not forget Big Ben, Miami of Ohio.

  4. Miami of Ohio is not in the same class as the others. The MAC is a major NCAA conference.