Thursday, March 3, 2016

It should be a no-brainer

True or false: The most important position on a football team is quarterback.

Of course that’s true. Everything on offense revolves around the quarterback. Good quarterback, good offense. Bad quarterback, bad offense. Great quarterback, the odds of winning a championship rise dramatically.

OK. Another true or false: The second most important position on a football team is offensive tackle.

False. Sure it’s important to make certain the quarterback remains vertical and has time to distribute the football. Offensive tackles draw that important assignment.

This is not to minimize their importance, but offensive tackles rank third in the most important category. That’s because there is an aspect of the game that frequently gets overlooked and ranks higher than that position on the importance level.

It was on display in the Super Bowl, where Peyton Manning played as badly as Josh McCown of the Browns and yet the Denver Broncos dominated the Carolina Panthers.

Why? Because of the second-most important position on a football team: The edge rusher.

What Denver linebackers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware did to Carolina quarterback Cam Newton is the main reason the Broncos raised the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Not Manning, who threw for just 141 yards, no touchdowns, one interception and looked every bit like a 39-year-old man who should have retired a year ago and was just hanging on. The Broncos won that game in spite of him.

Which brings us to the National Football League college football draft next month and the route the Browns should take with the second selection in the lottery.

This is my second attempt at steering the Browns in a direction they need to pursue if they are to become anything more than a team struggling to win more than a handful of games each season and shed the title of the NFL’s annual stepchild.

Put simply, the Browns need to make life extremely uncomfortable for opposing quarterbacks. Do that and your chances of winning games rise exponentially. And there is a player who will be available at No. 2 who can help them accomplish that.

Joey Bosa is quarterback disturber. He makes life miserable for opposing quarterbacks. Did that for three seasons at Ohio State. And now he’s making himself available for the NFL.

And where do the Browns need the most help from a team standpoint? That’s correct. Defense. Especially on pass defense. Most notably on putting quarterbacks on their backside.

There is no question drafting a quarterback is a more glamorous choice. But if that’s the route the Browns must go, no matter whom they draft, that young man will sit for at least one season.

Bosa, on the other hand, will not. He will be inserted immediately into the starting lineup, become a three-down performer for the next decade or so and make a startling difference to the Cleveland defense.

That defense needs a fire starter, a playmaker, and Bosa, who provided that essential element to the Buckeyes’ defense, can be that man. The relentless manner in which he plays cannot – and should not – be overlooked.

Right now, the smart money says the Browns will select a quarterback with that choice – either Jared Goff of California or North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz. That’s because just about everyone in the Browns’ front office seems to be focusing on those two.

With Hue Jackson on board as head coach bringing along his reputation as a quarterback whisperer, it’s only reasonable to assume he is pushing heavily for a quarterback.

But the quarterbacks class this season is ordinary at best. No one sticks out like an Andrew Luck or Peyton Manning or Eli Manning or John Elway. They are the type of quarterback worthy of a No. 2 selection. Not this season.

Filling a need is important in the draft process and the Browns definitely need a quarterback. But when picking as early as Cleveland, it’s much more important to grab the best player available. And right now, Bosa is that player.

He is clearly a better football player than Goff and Wentz. Numerous draft gurus place him at the top of their lists. He can – and will – make more of an impact right out of the chute. He can – and will, if they take him – make the Cleveland defense better than it has been in a long time.

It has been noted by some that Bosa is more impactful in a 4-3 scheme and new (or should we say returning) defensive coordinator Ray Horton is a 3-4 guy. Correction: He is a 3-4 guy, but has not been shy showing hybrid looks featuring more than three pass rushers.

He is not that dumb where if someone like Bosa suited up for his defense he would make a linebacker out of him. No, Bosa is more than just a great athlete. He is a great football player and his game should translate well to the NFL. Too bad it will be for someone else.

The Broncos did not make a mistake making Miller the No. 2 pick in the 2011 lottery. The Browns, though, are destined to make that mistake when they pass on Bosa. 

Too bad.


  1. The Texans have JJ Watt. What trophy did they win????

    1. Southie,

      The Texans became much better on defense when Watt arrived. Their problem remains at quarterback. Right now, the Browns need more help on defense than at quarterback. Getting to opposing quarterbacks should be their No. 1 priority. You'd be surprised on how much that will impact on the offense

  2. Couldn't disagree more, Rich. Surprising, as I usually agree with most of your opinions. Bosa is too small to be a DE in a 3-4, and too slow to be an OLB who occasionally has to drop back in pass coverage. And I don't buy the hybrid nonsense Horton talks up. All that means is that, with Bosa only being truly effective as a 4-3 DE, he'll only get on the field about half the time. Need more from a # 2 overall. I'll be satisfied with Goff, Wentz, or even trading down a few spots for more picks and then snagging Connor Cook.


    1. Be careful, DW, what you'd be satisfied with. Bosa is a football player who also happens to be a very good athlete. Watch how much of an impact he'll make with his new NFL team and then maybe you'll understand why I think the way I do. I watched enough of him at OSU to know he's a playmaker no matter where he lines up.

  3. I'm with you, Rich. If he's there at #2, take him, without hesitation. He would be the proverbial "best player available" they keep saying they would take when it's time to pick (any pick) and it's not even close. BOsa! BOsa! BOsa! After that, Connor Cook is a great pick up at #32.


  4. They need to pick up the best wide receiver at 32, MP. Even if they sign one in free agency. McCown or whoever is at QB this year need a lot of help.

    1. Shades of Mike "Junkyard Dog" Junkin. Surely you remember all that hype and unfulfilled expectations?

    2. Ditto with Keith "Best Pure Pass Rusher" Baldwin...


  5. Southie & DW,

    Neither were best player available. Junkin was taken that high because he was a workout warrior. And Baldwin was a need, not the BPA. If the BPA at #32 is not a wide receiver in April, draft the next BPA on the board. Hopefully, it will be a WR.