Let’s Argue: Tyrod Taylor Browns Starting Quarterback?

Welcome to Let’s Argue, your weekly opportunity to be #MadOnline. The premise is simple: WFNY’s Mike Hattery and Jeff Nomina will present arguments — maybe just a question or a deep stat dive or a good old fashioned hot take. Then, they will either argue with each other or invite you to come argue with us. This week, Mike and Jeff are starting the argument, but don’t let that stop you for joining in the comment section or coming at us 140 characters at a time on Twitter @SnarkyHatman &@SportsNom.

Mike Hattery: On Sunday afternoon, beloved reporter Jason La Canfora noted the Browns were the favorites for Tyrod Taylor as a landing spot. The Buffalo Bills still have him under contract, but he is due a $15.5 million roster bonus on March 11. Taylor finished ninth in ESPN’s messy, opaque Total QBR metric ahead of Ben Roethlisberger and Alex Smith, but the former Virginia Tech Hokie is more league average than above it. Still, average quarterback play would be an enormous leap for the Browns and would allow them to allocate assets to building an above-average defense. The key question: Nom, why the hell not?

Jeff Nomina: Because it’s time to use a high pick on a quarterback. The Browns have the 12th pick this year, they’ve picked 12th or higher six times in the past ten drafts. The Browns have not used one of those picks to select a QB. We all laugh about the Browns jersey with a hundred names on it but look at those names and tell me which was a huge investment. Brady Quinn, Brandon Weeden, and Johnny Manziel are guys that had excitement around them, but all fell in the draft for a reason. Josh McCown and Robert Griffin III were names no one else was chasing. We all sit around and act like the carousel of QBs is some incredible, unexplained phenomenon of bad luck. The reality is there has been a complete lack of investment in the position. I refuse to pretend Brian Hoyer and Derek Anderson flaming out was anything other than the obvious and expected outcome.

This year provides a unique opportunity of found money. There is a second first-round pick in the Top 12 for the Browns to use in a draft with multiple interesting QB prospects. You and I have already discussed taking Watson first overall, but short of that, there is an opportunity to grab one of those QB prospects at 12 and not have used your only first rounder. Just do it. Invest in a high QB. Quit waiting for the magical unicorn QB prospect that has no flaws and is available with the Browns’ pick.

Mike Hattery: Because its time to… If one concedes that Taylor is somewhere between No. 12 to No. 18 as a NFL starter, essentially a league average quarterback, then he is a scarce resource. Further, though I am a Watson fan, isn’t his 75th percentile outcome that of Tyrod Taylor? Would we not be thrilled with a league average quarterback? Taylor interests me in so far as competency breeds stability. The Browns lack organization stability which is essential to player development and long-term roster success. Taylor plus Myles Garrett and a few other defensive upgrades is a significant upgrade, which could help bring stability to see Year 3 of this coach-front office combo. Competency breeds development for guys like Corey Coleman, Rashard Higgins, and Seth Devalve. Further, when players like Derek Carr and Dak Prescott slide out of the first round, the infrastructure you build around them is guiding success. Therefore, why not sign Taylor, and use all the draft assets to make significant infrastructure upgrades. Is that a crazy approach?

Jeff Nomina: To be clear, I’m a huge fan of Taylor. He’s not great, but he is serviceable. To your point, he could be a stabilizing force on the team. With a roster that was torn down to the studs, it’s hard to evaluate pieces as they come in due to the chaos around them. Taylor could certainly help with that aspect. My main issue is if this is an either / or situation. Is it Taylor OR a draft pick? Or would you sign Taylor and still use a high pick on a QB? With the amount of cap space the Browns have, there is littler downside to signing Taylor. But I would still look QB with their second first-round pick. I know I keep saying it, but it’s time to invest in the position.

Mike Hattery: For me, this is not an either/or decision. Jackson is highly invested in the process and he may like Pat Mahomes, Davis Webb or the odds of a top guy sliding into the second round. Rather firm up the team with a solid starter and then provide Jackson the time to work on a highly-gifted project. If the Browns can grab Garrett plus another elite defensive talent, this team suddenly has multiple defensive playmakers, a solid QB, adequate offensive playmakers and the cap room to upgrade the offensive line. That level of infrastructure is worth going with Taylor and a project quarterback in my opinion. What are the odds any quarterback the Browns take at 12 have even similar NFL production to Taylor? 30 percent? 40 percent?

Jeff Nomina: Those are all fair points, but I think you’re trying to speed up the timeline a bit too much. This was a complete and total tear down, one that will likely take more than one off season to complete. I don’t think it’s time to start trying to just fill holes and go out and win games for the sake of it. Does a rookie likely end up better than Taylor? No. But does drafting and grooming a young QB for this roster make more sense if the goal is sustained winning? I believe so. Just seems like a waste to go through the pains of last season just to rush into a low-ceiling rebuild. The entire point was a rebuild that could put together a high-end roster.

So what do you think? Should the Browns try to settle their QB position by signing Tyrod Taylor, or should they look to be grooming their QB of the future? Vote in the poll, tell us your thoughts in the comments, or find us on Twitter.

Also, both is an option:

  • Hopwin

    I cannot find any documentation anywhere on this after googling for 15 minutes.

  • Garry_Owen

    Roger. Those important things are why I admit my statement of viewpoint is oversimplified. I consider myself an “ordered libertarian.” I generally think that people should be free to live their lives without interference from government, yet acknowledge that people (and our society) have to be governed. The tension is always going to be between liberty and autocracy. For me, that line always tends to fall in favor of the former – and as I get older, I tend to see it as almost entirely eliminating “consumer protection,” apart from those things that pose a threat to life. So, do I want the FDA making sure that my food is produced at standards that don’t present the risk of food poisoning and death to my family? Yep, I guess I do, because we have to consume food produced by someone other than us. Do I need the FCC to regulate content on or accessibility to TV/Radio/internet? I’m pretty sure I don’t need that. If the market doesn’t provide what I want, I guess I’m free to unplug.

    On that issue of cable/internet, I have recently become more and more irritated by the monopoly status of many companies. It’s tough knowing that my only real choice is to pay through the nose or unplug altogether, but I am definitely considering a separation. In the end, it might be a better solution that inviting the government to ham-hand its way into making an even worse solution, particularly when a truly free market is not going to happen.

  • nj0

    Here’s a list of non-1st round QBs drafted from 1997-2016 sorted by games started.

    192 taken
    90 never started a game
    50 have at least one season as “regular starter” (according to PF-reference)

  • Hopwin

    Wrong scenarios.

    My understanding was Wilson was expected to sit and Flynn (big money) was to start but Wilson came into camp killing it and never looked back. Pete Carroll didn’t make him a project.

    Derek Carr was not taken as a project, he was a backup to Schaub who was to be the long-term answer.

    Cousins was never a project to replace RG3.

    Where is the example of a coach drafting and grooming a project QB to be the starter?

  • mgbode

    Rodgers was then placed in McCarthy’s “Quarterback school” for six hours a day several times a week.[46] This focused on working on Rodgers’s motor skills such as hand-eye coordination, finger dexterity, and mechanics.[42]
    McCarthy also worked on Rodgers’s release point, moving it from right
    beside the ear hole of his helmet to further below it, to give him a
    smoother release.[34] Rodgers was also instructed to lower his body fat ratio from 15 percent to 12 percent.[42] Rodgers was resistant to the changes at first but later commented that he thought they were for the better.[46]
    During practice in 11-on-11 drills, Rodgers completed 62.7% of his
    passes with seven interceptions, and McCarthy commented that “He’s
    getting better”

  • Garry_Owen

    Tannehill is the best that I can come up with.

  • Hopwin
  • mgbode

    Since 1993, McCarthy
    has charted quarterbacks in five footwork drills that rate agility and
    movement. In his three backup seasons, Rodgers improved most in those
    areas, McCarthy said, to where he now ranks “at the top of all of them.”

    In what McCarthy calls his Quarterback School, Rodgers concentrated on
    tuning his fine motor skills: hand-eye coordination, finger dexterity,
    mechanics. He also lowered where he held the ball for a smoother, more
    consistent motion.

  • Hopwin

    Thank you!

  • mgbode


  • nj0

    Problem is, I don’t think there’s any difference between a back-up and a project QB. The Raiders didn’t take Derek Carr and think, he’s just a back-up. They thought, we’re confident he can be a back-up and then we’ll see how we can develop him.

    All that said, it’s crazy that the NFL machine spends millions on player evaluation and would still be better flipping a coin on whether to draft a QB or not.

  • CBiscuit

    Well glad to hear that because we’ll all be giving up consumer protection laws! Yeah, we’re told that regulations prevent free market activity (which is true obviously), but a market cannot totally be “free” as it will run roughshod over the consumers.

    If there was zero regulation, we’d be eating soylent green burgers made by 12 year olds in China, the packaging of which could be dumped into the already polluted river. You could warm your burger on coal powered electricity and for your abdominal pain, hope that you have any money in your bank account to pay for your astronomically high health insurance, the rates of which are elevated because the insurance company can discriminate against you for your risk factors. I’m sure by then, your company has long since fired you for your health issues.

    Regulation, in good measure, keep the evils of business in check (the same evils who have somehow convinced good people that we don’t need the EPA or clean water).

  • mgbode

    not getting into this today, but let’s just note that “in good measure” is the portion of where the debates begin. few want the pendulum swung fully in either direction.

  • Hopwin

    25% starting a season is pretty abysmal.

  • Hopwin

    I liked the part where Rodgers was teaching Favre which plays translated from McCarthy’s offense back to Sherman’s.

  • CBiscuit

    Yep, that’s absolutely true. We agree. Unfortunately those “few” who want the pendulum to swing in favor of massive and dangerous deregulation are very powerful and in charge. That’s the scary part and the nut of it all.

  • nj0

    I’m very much for regulation, (in most cases).

    My point was more that deregulation talk usually starts with “screwing over the consumer” and ends before “eliminating barriers that would allow competition”. If someone wants to embrace the strain of libertarian thought that says get government out of business, I’m cool with it. But you can’t have it both way (eliminate rules that protect consumers while creating rules that protect big business).

  • nj0

    Two quick personal experiences that have influenced my view:
    1.) Dealing with oil/mineral property/rights in Louisiana- It’s the wild west. Trust no one. Information, even the most basic, is at a premium. It’s sink or swim. Take away: better regulation of the industry makes sense to me.
    2.) For-profit education- The confluence of the worst parts of the regulatory state and capitalism. Malicious compliance at its finest. Take away: no amount of regulation will produce the desired outcome.

    Final conclusion: we’re all boned. Best to nuke it from orbit and hope the next gaggle of protozoans come up with a better way.

  • CBiscuit

    We are totally fracked. He’s a bit of a blowhard, but I guess we’ll have to root for Elon Musk to take us to Mars before this ess hole erupts. Or likely we’ll be dead anyway.

  • Believelander

    Re: Jeff Nomina: “Because it’s time to use a high pick on a quarterback.”

    You could just do both. We have so much cap space and Tyrod Taylor is so young that both signing him and drafting a QB at 12 – if and only if one of the top prospects is still available there – makes perfect sense. If you don’t sign Taylor and Kizer, Trubisky, and Watson are gone at 12, you look like an idiot. If you sign Taylor and none of those guys are there, great. You have Tyrod Taylor to start, who is in the upper half of QBs in the NFL, and if he sucks, you can try next year.

    If you do sign Taylor, and sign one of those guys, there is nothing that necessitates starting them immediately – if they blow Taylor away in camp and start and they are great immediately, great. Do Taylor right and find a trade destination for him. If not, then great. Start Taylor and work on that quarterback. This seems likely, since none of them are even remotely considered to be surefire NFL prospects.

  • Believelander

    I mean they’ve proven you can just keep replacing parts on an existing model year 2004 Miami Roethlisberger and it just keeps trucking. I see no reason they won’t continue to do so for the indefinite future instead of picking up a newer model.

  • mgbode

    Personally think Kizer is more similar to Ben, but sure.

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  • Believelander

    Fair, but you have no idea what the wheel horsepower are on the new Kizer model or, if it turns out to suck, if the supercharger and other parts can even be parted out and installed on your Roethlisberger to keep it running.