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: