Part of the Browns’ off-season has obviously been a debate over what priority the Browns should place on which positions.1 Some fans prefer that the Browns draft a quarterback no matter what. Some fans prefer standout wide receiver Sammy Watkins who showed off his skills against the (mostly) popular Ohio State Buckeyes in the Orange Bowl. There are more still that don’t name a specific player but insist on the Browns taking the best player available at all times. I largely stand with this last crowd, but I also recognize a clear and obvious premium that must be placed on the quarterback position in the NFL. With that in mind, while I don’t have any kind of mandate in mind that I want to try and artificially put on the Browns, I can’t help but think the Browns would be wise to hedge against the wild fantasies about Brian Hoyer proving to be a franchise quarterback.
There are enough examples in history that make our dreams of Hoyer becoming the next Kurt Warner legitimate enough. Could it happen? Of course it could. But there’s at least equal chance that Hoyer won’t become the next Tony Romo.2 He could just as easily be Kelly Holcomb. In many of Holcomb’s 24 career NFL starts, someone thought they’d have a chance to win with Holcomb. In those 24 starts, Holcomb went 8-16, including his 4-8 mark with your Cleveland Browns.
Brian Hoyer doesn’t have to be Kelly Holcomb of course. Hoyer intrigues me just like he intrigues you. In his four career starts, Hoyer is 3-1 with a 3-0 mark in Cleveland. He needed some help from Brandon Weeden to bring home win number three against the Buffalo Bills, but his record is still 3-0. I’ve gone back and watched film too. I’m still excited by his field vision and how quickly he gets the ball out of his hands. He plays in the pocket with energy, but without looking panicked. I truly can’t wait to see what Hoyer can do this year.
I just don’t want to overstate things and count on him without a backup plan. No, this doesn’t mean I want to debate Rex Grossman and Jason Campbell. This doesn’t also mean that I think the Browns should trade up like crazy to get the best quarterback in the 2014 NFL draft.
There are lots of ways to find your quarterback in the NFL. I’ve consistently stated that none of the other QBs in the AFC North were top-five NFL picks. The jury is still out on Andy Dalton, of course, and I’m not the biggest Joe Flacco fan, but the fact remains that the highest draft pick used to find a starter among the Browns rivals was the 11th pick in 2004 for Ben Roethlisberger.
While I am insistent that the Browns not be too satisfied with hopes for Brian Hoyer, I’m also not a proponent of desperation in chasing one of the top name quarterbacks. I just would prefer the Browns have some kind of hedge, whether it be a draft pick or trade for some young-ish prospect. The Browns can’t get everything right, and we know they’ll make their share of mistakes in personnel. I just hope they don’t make the mistake of writing Brian Hoyer’s name at the top of the QB depth chart with permanent ink. At least not yet.