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Who will be the new Browns starting QB? While We’re Waiting

My brothers started a new football-related Thanksgiving weekend tradition over the last two years. No, it wasn’t just the Ohio State-Michigan game or watching some of the NFL’s bests compete on national TV. The tradition has to do with predicting the next season’s Cleveland Browns.

Ever since the team returned in 1999, fans have been waiting on a string of successful seasons to remind them of the Old Browns of yesteryear. It hasn’t happened yet. But hope remains in the form of talented early-20s college students who may transform the roster overnight. And there is hope out there for a long-tenured quarterback who may finally save the day.

That is what led my brothers, Adam and Sam, and their two friends, Nick and Zak, to begin that inaugural Thanksgiving tradition in 2015: Predicting who they think would be the Week 1 Browns quarterback starter for the next season. It’s a hard game! With a few weeks left of the regular season, let alone the entire offseason and the draft, it’s an inexact science and prone to wild guesses.

The 2015-leading-into-2016 results were understandably mixed. At the time of Thanksgiving 2015, the Browns had Johnny Manziel, Josh McCown and Austin Davis as quarterbacks on the roster. So, naturally, those had to be the first picks. But from there? It was a crapshoot of highly regarded draft prospects, veteran free agents and potential young backup quarterbacks who could be acquired in a trade.

The team’s eventual Week 1 starter was Robert Griffin III, taken as the No. 23 pick by Nick. Cody Kessler, selected No. 25 by Adam, started a season-high eight games, and McCown, selected No. 2 also by Nick, started three games. RG3 became the first Browns quarterback since Charlie Frye in 2006 to start both Week 1 and Week 17 in a single season. Unfortunately, due to injuries, he started only three other games.

But as of Thanksgiving 2016, Griffin was still on the active roster. As was Cody Kessler, of course, and McCown (until early February). So those had to be the early draft picks this time around heading into the 2017 season. And because last year’s winner was taken so late in the draft, a decision was made to expand it from nine rounds out to 11 rounds. How did the rest of the draft go five months ago? Here’s the whole list:

Round 1

1. Cody Kessler – Sam

2. Robert Griffin III – Nick

3. Josh McCown – Zak

4. Deshaun Watson – Adam

Round 2

5. Mitchell Trubisky – Adam

6. Jimmy Garoppolo – Zak

7. DeShone Kizer – Nick

8. Ryan Fitzpatrick – Sam

Round 3

9. Case Keenum – Sam

10. Jay Cutler – Nick

11. Terrelle Pryor – Zak

12. Tony Romo – Adam

Round 4

13. Kirk Cousins – Adam

14. Nick Foles – Zak

15. Carson Palmer – Nick

16. Blaine Gabbert – Sam

Round 5

17. E.J. Manuel – Sam

18. Brock Osweiler – Nick

19. J.T. Barrett – Zak

20. Brandon Allen – Adam

Round 6

21. Colin Kaepernick – Adam

22. Sam Bradford – Zak

23. Blake Bortles – Nick

24. Mark Sanchez – Sam

Round 7

25. Brad Kaaya – Sam

26. Paxton Lynch – Nick

27. Derek Anderson – Zak

28. Alex Smith – Adam

Round 8

29. Baker Mayfield – Adam (did not declare for draft)

30. Kevin Hogan – Zak

31. Andy Dalton – Nick

32. Johnny Manziel – Sam

Round 9

33. Christian Ponder – Sam

34. Tyrod Taylor – Nick

35. Jake Browning – Zak (was not eligible for draft)

36. Patrick Mahomes – Adam

Round 10

37. Matt Schaub – Adam

38. Drew Brees – Zak

39. Eli Manning – Nick

40. Philip Rivers – Sam

Round 11

41. Trevor Siemian – Sam

42. Scott Tolzien – Nick

43. Colt McCoy – Zak

44. Brian Hoyer – Adam

Yet again, it seems that Nick might have the luck of the draw with his No. 18 selection of Brock Osweiler, who wasn’t acquired by the Browns until early March 2017. There are certainly some head-scratchers — why did my brother bother with Johnny Manziel again and why was an underclassman selected? — but overall, this list wasn’t too bad.

Even five months out, despite the fact that the Browns have since released Griffin III and McCown, this 11-round snake draft doesn’t look that horrible. Leading into draft night tonight, all indications seem to be leading toward the Browns liking Northeast Ohio native Mitchell Trubisky. But would Osweiler or Kessler still start Week 1? It’s a mystery. It means that Adam, Nick and Sam all look like possible winners. Which makes a game like this all the more intriguing heading into the next few months.

Links I’ve enjoyed from around the sports web: