Browns, NFL Draft

The great 2018 NFL Draft quarterback debate

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: The Cleveland Browns need a quarterback.

Despite perpetually being one of the league’s worst teams, thus drafting in the top 10 more often than not over the last 19 seasons, only once have they used said pick on a quarterback. Since drafting Tim Couch in 1999, the Browns have used their hard-earned assets on an offensive tackle, a wide receiver, a few cornerbacks, an edge rusher, a defensive tackle, a running back, or worse—not using them at all. This, of course, flies smack in the face of probabilistic outcomes when you look at something as simple as this year’s playoff teams where six of the eight teams to play on wild card weekend were spearheaded by a quarterback taken in the top three of his respective draft.

Here we sit once again with the Browns on the clock, this time without a Myles Garrett sitting in their lap. It’s time. The first pick has to be used on a quarterback. The team can no longer go on playing the value game, trying to outsmart the rest of the NFL by “finding” the game’s most important position later in the draft.

Who that quarterback is, however, will be debated from now until Roger Goodell steps to the podium with the team’s card in his hand. That’s where we come in.

Here are the nominations for quarterbacks who might be selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

  • Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, as nominated by Jacob Burns
  • UCLA’s Josh Rosen, as nominated by Joe Gilbert
  • USC’s Sam Darnold, as nominated by Travis Ulle
  • Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, as nominated by Michael Bode

Each quarterback advocate will now be allotted 200 words below to convince everyone how they’re player should be the next franchise quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. Josh Allen backers need not apply.

Opening arguments

Jacob: Fresh off the First Annual Convention of Undersized Quarterbacks, I am here to make it known who the simple choice should be. Unfortunately group chair, Russell Wilson, was unable to join us, and founder, Drew Brees, is currently working through another postseason. (No clue what those are, but I hear they are fun.) Alas, I have decided to step in and make the group’s nomination this year. The selection is Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield.

Now, as we all know in the under 6-1 community, we plan to be ignored no matter how logical the case. This, however, shouldn’t stop you from wanting the NCAA’s most efficient passer of all time. Your 2017 Heisman Trophy winner shattered NCAA accuracy records, and finished with 4,627 yards passing with 43 touchdowns against only six interceptions. The Browns need a leader who  understands the nature of the challenge at hand, will rise to meet the high demands this fan base will ask of its quarterback, and is willing to meet the massive challenge it takes to turn around a franchise so desperately in need of winning. Baker Mayfield is the guy Cleveland needs and deserves.

Joe: I am nominating quarterback Josh Rosen of University of California, Los Angeles to be selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. Rosen has  everything you want in a NFL quarterback. He had the least help of all the draft eligible quarterbacks in terms of his protection and pass catchers, but performed well under those tough conditions. The Cleveland Browns need a player who can elevate those around him and that is exactly what Rosen did for his UCLA teammates.

The pressure of being the quarterback to try and turn around the Browns franchise will not be too much to handle because he was held to that standard at UCLA. He is NFL-ready, but still has room for improvement to reach a really high ceiling that his talents project. Rosen should be the choice at No. 1 overall for the Cleveland Browns come this November.

Travis: The NFL Draft has long been treated as a Super Bowl for Browns fans. The chance to turn it all around. The results have been…not good. This year feels significantly special because, for the first time, they truly control their destiny. The Browns have had an unfathomable streak of ineptitude since returning to the league. But, since 2001, despite the never ending streak of suck, the privilege of taking their pick of the litter of quarterbacks has eluded them. In some cases, the blue chip, can’t-miss QB was always just out of reach. In other instances, they didn’t want to pull the trigger on the next guy in line. Sometimes they were right (Robert Griffin III) other times, not so much (Carson Wentz, Deshaun Watson). So, this year—finally—they can take whoever they want. They should want Sam Darnold, and so should everyone else.

Michael: The huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse off the Erie teeming shore.
Send QBs! The homeless drafter is lost to me,1
So I shine a light on the chosen one for all to see.

The quarterback the Browns should select to lead their franchise is responsible for the most touchdowns (96) over the 2016 and 2017 college football seasons. He has seen his completion percentage rise each of his three seasons as a starting quarterback as his responsibilities in the offense have risen in parallel. This quarterback has not been put into a plush situation overflowing with offensive weaponry or given the luxury of an award-worthy offensive line, yet he found himself both a Heisman winner and finalist.

As shall be shown in the arguments below, the quarterback destined to help the franchise rise from ruins is Lamar Jackson, and Lamar Jackson alone.

Highlight the most important strengths of your candidate.

Jacob: This is the category where Baker Mayfield thrives. He has shown accuracy to all levels at an unparalleled clip in college football. Most quarterbacks have a sweet spot on the field they can point at as the area they dominate. Mayfield dominates them all. He can make every throw on the field, and without a doubt has the best long arm in this class. Mix his accuracy with the ability to place the ball wherever he wants, move around the pocket with ease, escape and make plays with his eyes downfield, and even run for yards when he needs to and you have the best quarterback in the class. Mayfield threw for 14,607 yards in his career, had a 131-30 touchdown to interception ratio and completed 68.5 percent of his passes. Don’t sleep on his running either as he also amassed 1,083 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground. The guy can do it all, and he does it with a high level of durability in his background as he is built well for a guy right at 6-feet tall.

Mayfield can operate with the best of them when things around him go perfectly. You give him a clean pocket with receivers who can run and you will often find points in a hurry. What makes the NFL a challenge is things just break down. Coach Terry Shea noted, “Balance in the pocket is paramount, but 40 percent of the time, you have to be able to throw without setting your feet.” This is where Mayfield is special. He can throw from all different arm slots, different bases, and still make the necessary accuracy needed to get the job done. Every aspect of NFL Quarterbacking isn’t pretty, and a successful one needs to be able to use the entire array of of his abilities to get the job done. We often scout for the pretty plays, but sometimes its your quarterback’s ability to get it right when things don’t go as planned that helps your team succeed. Mayfield is the man in this class who can do both of those things well.

Joe: Josh Rosen has a long laundry list of strengths in his game. He has the arm strength to throw to all levels of the field with ability to change speeds on his throws depending on the situation. His throwing mechanics are clean and done with ease. He is a fearless passer, who can fit passes through tight windows. He is an overall accurate passer, especially in the intermediate level of 10-to-19 yards. His best quality, despite all the aforementioned, is his ability to throw with good anticipation, allowing his receiver to catch balls in stride to make more yards after the catch. In the pocket, he has good awareness to shuffle his feet and move around the pocket to extend his time to throw the ball, all while keeping his eyes down field to search for throwing options. Rosen uses the whole field and can use his eyes to draw defenders out of the area where he intends to throw. His confidence is another strength that is important asset to his game.

Travis: Sam Darnold is the whole package. At first glance he has exactly what you look for: Prototypical size, athleticism, and arm strength. On the field he does everything well. He’s accurate (he completed over 63 percent of passes this year) and moves really well with his feet. He’s not a runner by any means, but looks great throwing on the run and uses his mobility to buy time. Throw in the fact that he has zero injury concerns to date and you’ve got all the physical traits you’d want from a franchise QB.

Say what you want about USC quarterbacks in the NFL, they’ve had some damn productive ones in college. Yet only one has ever thrown for 4,000 yards in a season. I bet you can guess who that is. Spoiler Alert: it’s Sam Darnold. Darnold complements all those physical things with just about every intangible coaches look for. His leadership and maturity has never been in question (despite being only 20 years old) and he’s got a knack for making plays at crucial moments. What more could you ask for?

Michael: Aesthetics are all on the side of my candidate but such should be expected for a player who rushed for more yards and touchdowns than Saquon Barkley each of the last two seasons at a higher yard per carry clip, while showing remarkable durability.2 Oh, and it has been shown that mobile quarterbacks are no more injury prone in the NFL than pocket quarterbacks.

Of course, Lamar Jackson wasn’t just about his legs. He became the first FBS underclassman ever to surpass 4,000 career rushing yards and 9,000 career passing yards. Head coach Bobby Petrino kept expanding the offense to challenge Jackson throughout his tenure. His work within the pocket is often overlooked, but, by his third season starting, he was calling audibles and making multiple reads from the pocket. When he did scramble, his eyes remained upfield to pass until his options forced him to run. Jackson also is a quarterback who can both find the open receiver (an under-rated skill as it requires understanding the defense and the play called while chaos is afoot) or throw a receiver open. His third down catchable percentage was the best of this draft class. In fact, his throws deemed catchable in all circumstances were directly in line with the other top prospects who do not double as the most dynamic runner in the draft.

What unfair narratives have been perpetuated about your candidate?

Jacob: The comparison between Baker Mayfield and Johnny Manziel has been the single most unfair narrative in this group. Mayfield comes from a different set of circumstances, plays the game in an entirely different fashion, and has accomplished everything despite the odds in his career. Now, the competitveness—or “anger”—issue Mayfield has shown will only perpetuate this narrative as both Mayfield and Manziel both displayed an arrogance that got them in trouble with opposing defenses in college.

Manziel lived his football life on the edge, both on the field and off of it. On the field he risked danger on many plays as he danced around in the backfield, and pushed the ball into situations that risked what was not always necessary. He neglected the middle of the field, and his mechanics were always a bit sideways. With Mayfield you have the exact opposite. He is sound fundamentally, works egregiously hard on his craft off the field, and cares about football more than anything else. Baker Mayfield will look nothing like Johnny Manziel on and off the football field in the NFL.

Joe: The most unfair narrative about Josh Rosen is about his character. He has been called selfish, unpopular by teammates, lacking a true love of football and a new one: Being unwilling to play for the Browns. These narratives are simply untrue. Rosen has been the leader of UCLA football for almost three years and has taken the brunt of all the pressure of turning this struggling football program. He may show some different off-field behavioral traits, but he has shown on the field that he is a fierce competitor, who wants to win.

In terms of the report that teammates dislike him, this was squashed by his teammates on Twitter coming out in support of the quarterback. The rumor of Rosen not wanting to play for the Browns…well there are two things to this. One, Rosen declared for the draft, so he is not trying to avoid getting picked by Cleveland. And two, who does have the 0-16 Browns as their top preference? The organization is a mess. And besides that, most players would like to play for their childhood team and not openly go to the worst franchise in the league. In the end, you should be completely comfortable with Rosen leading the Browns into the future as their franchise quarterback.

Travis: Sam Darnold led the country in turnovers, and that seems to be the overwhelming point of emphasis from detractors. While this is fair, at the same time, get off his back people. Half of his interceptions came in the first three games of the year where USC was decimated by injuries and NFL departures while trying to find its stride. This resulted in Darnold trying to make throws under duress. A few times, these throws ended up underthrown and got picked off. Far more often, though, the throw was one that Cleveland fans would fall in love with. Other times those picks, weren’t even his fault. For example, a crucial pick-6 against Texas that hit the receiver square in the hands, got tipped and taken to the house. This wasn’t an isolated incident. Finally, lest we forget, this time last year we were all yapping about all the interceptions Deshaun Watson threw (four more than Darnold, actually). No one seems to care about that now.

Michael: Oddly, despite the surface-level acceptance of more mobile quarterbacks in the NFL, the league has gone backwards on a prospect such as Jackson. Michael Vick was the No. 1 overall pick of the 2001 NFL Draft. Until his off field issues surfaced, the Atlanta Falcons were ecstatic with their decision to draft the Virginia Tech Hokie. In the three years before Vick was the full-time starter, the Falcons posted losing records. Vick would post winning records in each of his first four seasons as the starting quarterback.3 The only complaints when the Michael Vick Experience was on full tilt from pundits was a desire to find a prospect with his dynamic athleticism yet contained in someone who knew the value of making plays through his ability to read defenses and using his arm.

Lamar Jackson is that prospect and more as he is better than Vick in nearly every way. Unlike Vick, Jackson checks off the NFL profile boxes. He started three years in college, improved on his accuracy each season, had a great touchdown to interception ratio, has prototypical height for a NFL quarterback,4 and is right-handed. How about something crazier though. Jackson had more passing yardage (and touchdowns) and more rushing yardage (and touchdowns) in each of his last two seasons than Michael Vick had in his entire college career.5

So, tell me why so few of the national draft publications refuse to include Jackson among the top quarterbacks or, worse, attempt to argue he needs to convert to wide receiver to make it in the NFL?

Brett Deering/Getty Images

What weaknesses does your candidate have?

Jacob: Mayfield’s biggest weakness will be speeding up his internal clock. He has the ability to do this, but as the athletes and schemes begin to catch up with his supporting cast, he will have to be able to decipher quickly. In the Big XII he was not asked to do this often as the opposing defenses often sat back and tried to cover rather than bringing pressure. Where Mayfield struggled against Georgia in the College Football Playoff was when they bumped an extra defender into the box and played man to man based Cover One defense. This put his receivers in extremely tight windows and bumped Mayfield out of his comfort zone. The NFL thrives in athlete to athlete coverage schemes, so Mayfield will have to dissect and get that ball out much quicker than he did at Oklahoma this past year. I have no doubt he can do this, but it will be an adjustment he will need to make.

Joe: Josh Rosen’s biggest weaknesses are throwing under pressure and his deep ball accuracy. Rosen is good at moving around the pocket and avoiding the pressure, but when he has to throw under the threat of getting hit or a rusher closing in on him, his accuracy can dip. He can lose his base and throw without his lower body, leading to inaccurate passes. He simply does not throw as well on the move as the others in the class do like Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield.

He has the arm strength and arm speeds to make any throw on the field, but he just does not consistently throw the deep pass accurately enough. He can miss wide open receivers by a couple yards. According to Ian Wharton of the Bleacher Report, Rosen completed just 33 percent of the throws 20 yards or more down field. This is something he must improve on as he gets into the NFL. Thirdly, his injury history is another concern that teams must investigate to make sure he is safe to take and rely on for a full career.

Travis: His throwing motion could certainly use a little work. It’s not terrible, but could certainly be cleaned up. There’s a little bit of a hitch there that is less than ideal but not a deal breaker. He’s also got a tendency to stare down receivers. It’s important to remember he’s 20 years old, so it shouldn’t surprise us that he needs some more time in the film room learning to read defenses. Because of this, he’s probably not the most ready to start day one. In the grand scheme, mechanics can be cleaned up and it’s incredibly rare that a QB comes into the league ready to read NFL defenses.

Michael: Every Achilles has a heel, which is an important distinction to highlight if a coaching staff is going to be able to mitigate the issue when setting up an offense for a quarterback. For Jackson, his throwing mechanics arrive as both a strength and a weakness. When he is in rhythm, his lack of torso rotation allows him to have a hair trigger release even when on the move. However, the lack of utilization of the entire kinetic chain during his delivery can also lead to some erratic deep throws as were prevalent during the early portions of his 2017 season. Given that receivers breaking open deep as safeties look to help against his runs is an advantage worth leveraging; he needs to fix this flaw.

Jackson was able to deliver short and mid-range throws with decent accuracy, but he needs to learn to come to a set position before the deeper throws. Even though he has a strong arm, it is the added benefit of full body strength that allows a quarterback to have those longer throws fall in the precise location they desire. He demonstrated an ability to do it, but he wasn’t nearly consistent enough.

Questions came about on each prospect due to their team’s bowl game. Explain why it matters (or not).

Jacob: It’s safe to say that those within the scouting community wanted to see what Mayfield could do against big time defenses. Now, Mayfield had disposed on Ohio State and TCU (twice) but the narrative of the Big XII defense still hung over his head. It was a tale of two halves as the Sooners had Georgia on their heels in the first half and Mayfield helped Oklahoma hang 31 points on one the country’s best defenses.

In the second half, like I mentioned above, Georgia shifted their game plan and took away the simple schemes Oklahoma was taking advantage of. Got in their wide receivers faces and made life tough on Mayfield. He did make one errant throw for an interception in the third quarter, and he took a couple sacks off immediate double A-Gap pressure, but Mayfield bounced back in the fourth quarter as he got a feel for what Georgia was doing. For the night, Mayfield went 23-35 for 287 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Not his best game, but it also showed he can battle through the adversity to meet the challenge.

Joe: Josh Rosen received some criticism because he sat out of UCLA’s game in the Cactus Bowl. I believe this does not matter one bit. Before I get to my overall stance on these situations, there is another layer to this decision. Rosen was held out by the training staff and coaching staff due to a concussion he suffered late in the season. He reportedly wanted to play, but the people around him urged him to sit it out so he did not risk getting another concussion. It was the right move. This bowl game was a worthless game with more risk than reward for Rosen. In my opinion, no player should be harmed or criticized for sitting out a bowl game. The NCAA is all about making money on the backs of the student athletes who risk their bodies for no pay. For people to blame players for not risking their bodies in a meaningless bowl game, it is just dumb. This is an even more silly argument for players who have a possible bright NFL future ahead. Just look at Jaylon Smith to see why this is true. Smith hurt his knee in his team’s final bowl game and the impact of that injury is still affecting him. He has yet to return to his previous form. Rosen missing UCLA’s bowl game does not matter.

Travis: I won’t say the bowl game doesn’t matter, but what I took from the bowl game seems to differ from many others. The combination of a mediocre O-line, a painfully predictable offensive game plan, complete absence of a running game and a Buckeye D-line that set up residency in the USC backfield ended up being a recipe for disaster. Despite this, he still made a few incredible throws and tallied over 350 yards. The pick six was obviously a bad play and the two fumbles could be cause for concern. I felt like he was just trying way too hard to do too much. Playing Ohio State meant he was also drawing a lot of Browns fans’ eyes who probably didn’t watch him play all year which makes a lot of the criticism pretty overblown.

Michael: Lamar Jackson had both a wretched overall day against the Mississippi State Bulldogs and also demonstrated why he is worth the No. 1 overall pick. The passing was not up to his usual levels as those mechanical flaws mentioned showed up. However, the turnovers are not a normal part of his game either. Jackson threw 399 passes in his first 12 games of the 2017 season and had just six interceptions. He had four interceptions in 28 passes at the Taxslayer Bowl. It wasn’t just level of competition either as Jim Johnson of Southern Pigskin notes “Excluding the recent Taxslayer Bowl, [Jackson] had 2,567 total yards, 24 touchdowns, and four interceptions in seven games vs top 25 defenses over the past two years. Even with that Mississippi State game, it’s 2,896 yards, 27 TDs, and eight interceptions.”

However, His receivers did him few favors:

His offensive line, well:

Nevertheless, Jackson kept the Cardinals in the game throughout with some dynamic runs and passes.

Please provide some evidence from others in the industry who agree with your perspective.

Jacob: The opinions on Mayfield are all over the board, and some make sense while others do not. Mayfield started behind the others in this class before the season, and is battling the size stigmas from the start. Here are some quotes of late to show where he stands.

“Perhaps no prospect has improved his stock more in 2017 than Mayfield.” -Todd McShay

“I believe he’s accurate, a good decision maker and ultra-competitive — those are three great traits in a league that’s light on starting-caliber quarterbacks. Mayfield is worth the risk.” -NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah

“While it’s true that (Russell) Wilson was more prepared for the NFL coming out of college, Mayfield is executing more pro concepts this season (reading high to low, working through progressions, throwing from the pocket). And like Wilson, Mayfield will have five years of college experience, which, in theory, can allow for a quicker progression to the NFL.” -Matt Miller, Bleacher Report NFL Draft Analyst

Joe: There are numerous NFL Draft experts that agree with my perspective on Josh Rosen. Let’s start with the Draft Godfather, Mel Kiper. Kiper has Rosen as his No. 1 quarterback and No. 4 overall prospect. Kizer says, “The 6-4, 218-pounder throws a great ball and has rare arm talent. There aren’t many quarterbacks who can make the throws he does.”

Kiper’s counterpart on ESPN, Todd McShay, is even higher on Rosen. He has the UCLA quarterback as the No. 1 overall player in the 2018 NFL Draft.

NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah adds this about Rosen, saying, “You’re going to hear this a lot between now and April — Rosen is the best pure passer among draft prospects. In fact, he’s the most talented passer by a good margin. From a footwork and release standpoint, it’s beautiful to watch him throw. It’s a bonus that he’s spent a good amount of time under center in a pro-style offense, as well.”

These are three of the country’s biggest NFL Draft analyst giving their favorable views on my nomination.

Travis:

“Darnold has better intangibles and a higher ceiling” – Todd McShay, ESPN

“I love Darnold’s playmaking ability, toughness and his durability. He has a clutch factor, too. He’s made some big-time plays over the last two years. His intangibles are off the charts. Darnold’s a big, sturdy QB and he can make every throw.” – Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com

“I think Darnold has a chance to be special, and I believe in his talent long term. Darnold has a big frame, makes quick decisions and is an accurate, natural passer.” – Mel Kiper, ESPN

“His “highs” are almost unfathomable for a quarterback at his age with his relative lack of experience. Can NFL coaches guide his maturation? If so, he can develop into a perennially elite signal-caller at the pro level.” – Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports

Michael: There are two industry quarterback experts I have grown to respect and trust above the others. One is Matt Waldman, the other is Mark Schofield.

Matt Waldman breaking down how well Lamar Jackson plays within the pocket, looks off the safety, and delivers a pinpoint ball to his third read:

Mark Schofield became so enraged at all of the poor takes on Lamar Jackson’s excellent play that he created a twitter thread where many draft writers from around the industry populated some great breakdowns of his play.

Denigration of opposition: Why are the other candidates the wrong choice?

Jacob: There are plenty of great choices with this quarterback class. I see it as one of the more loaded groups to come out in some time. Here is where I have pause with each guy.

Josh Rosen: A guy who is a gifted thrower of the football but I’m not sure he loves the game like he needs to. He has injury concerns, two concussions and a surgically repaired shoulder, and has personality rumblings – fair or unfair. He has already made note of trying to dodge Cleveland, and he seems more interested in location than actual football. On the field he is an Eli Manning clone who can make all the throws, but will make some he some throws that make you scratch your head as well. His success in the NFL will depend on his work ethic and developing leadership.

Sam Darnold: Another player who has all the intangibles checked — height, weight, leadership, work ethic. The problem I have with Darnold is turnover propensity. He doesn’t read defenses at the level I would like when he comes off his first read, has a long throwing motion that causes him to be behind, and his base gets out of alignment far too often. Now, he can fix those things, but the young man needs time to grow and learn as he will be only 21 upon his rookie year and we all saw how that just went.

Lamar Jackson: Jackson is about as dynamic as they come when jumping from the NFL. He runs like a Mike Vick, and has improved his throwing abilities as well. My problem with Jackson is the ability to do it as defenses catch up to his ability to run. College defenses held off on pressuring Jackson as they feared his ability to escape. This often kept pockets clean and lanes easy to decipher. I fear Jackson will really struggle with tight window throws and the pressure NFL defenses will bring at him. We saw a glimpse of his accuracy issues in the Mississippi State game when he sailed a few over the middle, and I fear that although he has made strides, he needs more time as he will be a big project in the NFL.

Joe: Josh Rosen is the best choice because of his talents, but there are reasons with the other candidates that help improve my position. Let’s start with Baker Mayfield. He is a shorter quarterback out of the Big 12. He comes out of a passer friendly offense with a supporting cast that made his job easier and boosted his success. These factors will make it a tougher transition for the Oklahoma quarterback to make it to the NFL than it is for Rosen.

The case against Sam Darnold can be done pretty easily. Just watch the UCLA/USC game from this season. Rosen clearly was the better quarterback and the more NFL ready quarterback in the game. Rosen outperformed Darnold in a head-to-head matchup and showed why he is the better prospect.

Lastly, Lamar Jackson is just not a complete passer at this point of his career. He is behind Rosen in terms of passing skill set and has a lot more developing to do before he can be a dangerous passer in the NFL.

Travis:

Josh: I’ve seen Concussion. Will Smith tells me they’re bad for you. You’re starting off with 2 of them and already have the financial wherewithal to walk away tomorrow, save your brain and still have your future generations set up for life. Plus, playing Vontaze Burfict twice a year would pretty much guarantee another one in the very near future.

Baker: I already sat through “Immature undersized QB with mediocre arm who never plays under center and relies heavily on his feet” once. I have no interest in the sequel. Plus, if someone who relies so heavily on his feet can’t outrun Fayetteville Police I’m skeptical.

Lamar: I actually love Lamar Jackson. I haven’t seen him play any wide receiver though so I can’t critique. My hunch is he’d look great catching passes from Sam Darnold.

Michael: Browns got nothin’ now, nothin’! The ESPN pundits believe Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, and Josh Allen are vying for the top spot in the 2018 NFL Draft. Damn fools! Look at that! I’ve been watching football for 35 years; you’re listenin’ to a Kiper! A McShay! This is a public humiliation! This a clear violation of your rights as a consumer. It’s an infringement on your constitutional rights.

Sam Darnold is Jay Cutler reincarnated. Josh Rosen is Eli Manning without the gene pool and miraculous helmet catch. Baker Mayfield is Philip Rivers’ attitude in Drew Brees body whose act won’t be so endearing without the wins to paper over his character flaws especially for a prospect two years older than any of the top quarterbacks.

So, you’re a victim. It’s outrageous, egregious, preposterous. Flouting society’s conventions! That’s totally inappropriate. Not ranking Lamar Jackson first overall is just wrong. Yeah that’s going to be a problem. It’s gonna be a problem for them. It’s lewd, vesuvius, salacious, outrageous!

Don’t worry though, draft Lamar Jackson and your season will be restful, splendid, magnificent. His play is delicious, scrumptious, outstanding! Oh, and by the way, he’s real, and he’s spectacular.

Closing arguments

Jacob: The choice for the Browns will come down to this question: What are you expecting from your rookie quarterback? If the Browns plan to sit their first pick and let them learn behind a veteran, all these names are an option an even include Wyoming’s Josh Allen. The problem here is that I expect the Browns to need their rookie to play right away. That leaves me with two plausible options: Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen as Jackson and Darnold will both be best served by a year or two of learning from the sideline. Now, with the choice there between Mayfield and Rosen, the Browns will have to figure out who best fits their scheme and can jump in and handle both the on-field product, but also the massive pressure of the role of starting at quarterback for the Browns. I think this decision is rather easy as Mayfield can do that for the Browns. He is the type of leader this fan base needs, and the type of leader that can elevate the group around him. Make the right choice here Cleveland.

Joe: Josh Rosen is clearly the best choice to be selected No. 1 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. He has everything a team wants in their franchise quarterback. His arm strength is NFL ready. His accuracy overall is pretty good and he simply dominates the intermediate level of the field with his pinpoint accuracy. He helps receivers by putting the ball in good position for the pass catcher to run after the catch. His intelligence on the field is shown through his usage of the entire field and making correct decisions. And, his confidence and poise are highly compatible for a successful NFL quarterback. He has shown in his time at UCLA that he can elevate the players around him and be the leading force for the entire offense. This factor should be a major plus for the Browns looking for a quarterback to elevate the downtrodden franchise. Rosen is the choice for the Cleveland Browns.

Travis: Sam Darnold has a 20-4 record in 2 years. He’s got everything you want physically. By all accounts he’s got everything you want as a leader and teammate. For god’s sake his grandfather was a Marlboro Man named Dick Hammer. Seriously. This guy was made to be a Cleveland Browns quarterback.

Michael: The Cleveland Browns are not looking for a mere franchise quarterback. To force a course-correction from the current path of destruction, the Browns need a franchise-altering quarterback. One who is also a leader of men with impeccable character, who can use the force of his own will to pull the entire region out of the depths of despair. There only exists one such signal-caller in the 2018 NFL Draft. Lamar Jackson is not only the most enjoyable quarterback to watch in this draft class due to his dynamic ability on the run, but he is one who is fully deserving of the selection for his stature as a passing quarterback. The progress he has demonstrated each successive year in his development is further proof of his willingness to work hard on his craft— a skill difficult to discern in an athlete from outside a program.

So, either the Browns will select Lamar Jackson in the draft or we’ll be posting a similar article about the 2019 or 2020 NFL Draft.

  1. Though maybe he meant for the CFL as Johnny Manziel is being given a new opportunity there in 2018. []
  2. Barkley had 1496 yards for 18 touchdowns at a 5.5 ypc clip in 2016 and 1271 yards for 18 touchdowns at a 5.9 ypc clip in 2017. Jackson had 1571 yards for 21 touchdowns at a 6.0 ypc clip in 2016 and 1601 yards for 18 touchdowns at a 6.9 ypc clip in 2017. []
  3. In 2003, the Falcons went 3-1 with Vick, 2-10 without him. []
  4. Vick was only 6-foot. []
  5. No, really. Vick had 3299 passing yards with 21 touchdowns and 1299 rushing yards with 17 touchdowns in his Hokie career. Jackson easily topped those numbers in both 2016 and 2017. []

  • tigersbrowns2

    great job , guys !! … I’m in TRAVIS’ corner.

    this is too easy … after passing on Wentz & Watson , the Browns must take a QB with the #1 overall pick , regardless of what veteran QB is acquired by either FA or the draft. Kirk Cousins might be the only one where we could wait until later in the draft to get a QB.

    so , who is worth the #1 overall pick ?? Not Mayfield & not Jackson … so , that leaves Darnold & Rosen … Rosen has already expressed he doesn’t want to be here … the pick is Darnold. I can’t sit here & say he’s going to be a good or great NFL QB , but you have to take a chance on someone.

  • tigersbrowns2

    and I think you will all be surprised at how high Allen is drafted. Many teams looking at QB this year.

  • 1st pick: Saquon Barkley because I don’t think he’ll make it to the 4th pick. (Watching Indianapolis’ every move.)

    4th pick: Lamar Jackson. I’ve been leaning towards Lamar, but I think MgBode’s evidence seals the deal. Plus, I put more value in QBs that can bring more to the table than just being able to throw the ball, hence why I still favor Deshone Kiser as the starting QB.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi LUNCH … I would love to have Barkley , but there are so many good RB’s in this draft , I think the Browns can wait until the 2nd round for a RB.

    there’s also the chance the Colts are looking at an OL to protect Luck , or maybe Chubb to rush the passer & I’ve seen a few mocks where Barkley went to the Browns at #4 … and there’s also the chance other teams may want to move into the Colts spot to take a QB.

  • tigersbrowns2
  • RGB

    You can’t teach accuracy.
    Trade out of #1. Get Mayfield and more picks.
    #4. MINKAH.

  • tigersbrowns2

    Minkah didn’t have a great NC game against Georgia , but I think you’ve been right about him all along.

    Torchforks will be sold-out if we trade out of the #1 overall pick … just take some body at #1 , even if it’s Minkah.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi MG … don’t get me wrong about Jackson … in the end , you may be right about him. I just can’t get past those skinny legs of his , wondering if he can stand-up to an NFL pounding.

  • mgbode

    Lamar Jackson – 0 missed college starts
    Josh Rosen – tons of missed college starts

    I’ll take my chances with the guy who has proven to be durable. Also, as noted, mobile QBs no more likely to get hurt than pocket QBs. Everybody gets hit hard and most miss time when it comes to the NFL these days. Take the talent.

  • tigersbrowns2

    good enough … so , Jackson is your guy , I’m okay with that , but at #1 overall ? … # 4 overall ?

  • NOPER

    That none of you picked Josh Allen warms my dead heart. The kid has bust written all over him. How he’s considered a top prospect with 5k career passing yards is an indictment of NFL scouting. He’s not even the best QB in the Mountain West of all places.

    I really fear that Rosen’s comparison to Manning is just to apt. Let’s not forget he’s the son of a neurosurgeon and lawyer. There’s family money to fall back on should he hold out. I’m firmly convinced he’d bring about the new low for the organization by refusing to play for the Browns. All that said Rosen is my favorite QB in the draft….ya know if I thought he’d sign here.

    Darnold admits to having confidence issues which…well….we all saw what happened to Kizer right? I mean he was a bad prospect to begin with but Hue Jackson did nothing to help him.

    The first convention of undersized QB’s was headlined by Fran Tarkenton for future reference.

  • Eric G

    I don’t know if it was the compelling language, or the fact that you were first in each category, Jacob, but I’m now on board with Mayfield.

  • mgbode

    The discussion above was No. 1 overall pick in the draft.

  • Someone will draft Josh Allen way too soon, and likely while a better option (my guess is Jackson at least) is available. Why will that someone be the Cleveland Browns? Because Carson Wentz was MVP-caliber this season until his injury, and Josh Allen looks like Wentz 2.0, right down to the choice of small/quirky/“he went where??” college. And after getting laughed at all season by everyone everywhere because “of course those stupid Browns passed on OBVIOUS FIRST BALLOT HALL OF FAMER (come on, we ALL knew it back in 2016!) Carson Wentz, and regardless of the fact that Allen is not on the level of prospect Wentz was (Wentz was more accurate and less turnover-prone than Allen), the similarities will be enough to cause them to roll the dice. My only hope is that they have at least secured Barkley or Fitzpatrick before doing so, thus saving our incredible opportunity to draft two in the top 4 from being a total brownsing.

  • mgbode

    Lots of bad QBs get drafted high

  • My preference for QB in round one looks like this:

    J. Rosen
    L. Jackson
    S. Darnold
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    . J. Moxon
    . W. Beamon
    . J. Utah
    . S. Falco
    . J. Kane
    .
    .
    . You. Yes, you.
    .
    .
    . B. Mayfield
    . J. Allen

  • NOPER

    Let alone that Wentz had actual passing yards. I’m constantly amazed that pure prototypes like Allen even get buzz. People yammer on about “we can teach him” show me a guy that knows at least a few things so I know he is capable of learning. I really can’t take these blank slant giants with cannons anymore.

    Here’s hoping Dorsey can distract Jimmy long enough to get talent in the 1st.

  • The_Matt_of_Akron

    What are everyone’s thoughts on how their candidate would be grossly misused by Hue Jackson?

  • Darnold: WR in the Wildcat, with Seth DeValve taking the snap
    Rosen: Three words: Run. Pass. Option.
    Jackson: lines up in shotgun…30 yards deep.
    Mayfield: punter

  • The_Matt_of_Akron

    SURPRISE! It was me, Hue Jackson, all along! You passed the interview to be my offensive coordinator! Like mine, your game planning is TRULY offensive!

  • Natedawg86

    Love the Jackie Chiles reference

  • mgbode

    Hire Ryan and I’m good with mine

  • Steve

    Take the one who will still have the most room to develop after we burn a year with him under Hue.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi MG … i guess my point was teams will be reaching for QB this year & Allen will be picked much higher than maybe he should.

  • tigersbrowns2

    since you are my favorite , I hope you’re right … i think the chances are slim-to-none … but it doesn’t matter what I think , it’s up to Dorsey & his crew to figure it out.

  • tigersbrowns2
  • tigersbrowns2
  • tigersbrowns2

    good morning , sir … the Cousins will “strongly consider” the Browns rumors have already started … would / should this change what the Browns do at # 1 overall ?

  • mgbode

    Good morning. It is called leverage. Use the team with tons of cap room and a need at QB to get the contract you want elsewhere.

  • mgbode
  • tsm

    I am certainly in no position to break down each of these guys. However, I would like to avoid – short, skinny, inaccurate, poor at reading D. My hope is that Dorsey will exhaust all methods to determine which guy will be the best 3 years from now. Being NFL ready is irrelevant, given where we are. I want the guy with the tools who can be developed. Of course we must get a veteran to start next season and mentor our young guy. Finally, I expect that Dorsey will have evaluated Kizer and rule out any guy who is not substantially better. Kizer did not progress this year, but he does have size, arm strength and durability.

  • mgbode

    if we get him later, then even better. just noting the context of this discussion and that i’d have no issue with it.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi TSM … good post.

  • Harv

    Just got a chance to read this and kudos to all involved.

    This exercise in making each participant pick one and exclude others may conceal a happy truth: this draft class may include 2 or even 3 guys capable of being The Guy. In other words the Browns may have the first and fourth overall picks AND a margin of error. I wish we knew that the new FO was on the same page with the coach as to a vision of what type of offense, what type of team they aspire to be. That would clarify this huge decision.

  • mgbode

    Thank you. And, indeed it does, Harv. It is more fun to read the way we presented it and we each have our own orders within them (I’m sure we will share at some point), but each of us have multiple guys who we could see leading the Browns.