Even people who do not like football know, the Cleveland Browns are bad. Nearly, all of these same people know that they need a quarterback. They have drafted an absurd amount of quarterbacks who have not panned out and chose these quarterbacks over others who have been considered NFL MVP candidates and offensive rookies of the year. Though I would like to see them offer Kirk Cousins an absurd amount of money and use the two picks for other positions, lets assume that they do not real in one of the veteran quarterbacks on the free agent market. Who should they take in the draft?
There are four quarterbacks who are being considered as potential top-ten picks. These include Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, and Baker Mayfield. I have done film study four all four of these quarterbacks and they are all very different. In the following I will compare these candidates and come to a conclusion based on my evaluations in which I will briefly describe.
Darnold has a high ceiling and the ideal body size. His arm strength and athleticism are evident. He makes throws throughout a course of the game that will have you thinking he can compete for a MVP in three seasons. At other times, you will be wondering why he was drafted at all. Some will point to the awful offensive line that he was behind this season and say that’s why he turned over the ball too much and had accuracy issues. This is true to some extent, but his post snap reads have a bigger affect on it.
Several times this season Darnold tried to make throws this season that left you scratching your head. This is because he tends to look down his first receiver, rather than going through all of his reads. An example of this was a throw that he attempted to make against Western Michigan. With the Trojans running the two minute drill, they were facing a 2nd and 15 with only 22 seconds left in the half. Darnold took the ball out of the shotgun and saw his tight end running a small hitch route over the middle against the cover-2 zone that the defense was running. Rather than moving to his next read, Sam tries to force the ball over the middle where there are three linebackers hovering within the area. The ball is tipped by one linebacker and is intercepted by another.
Plays like this are avoidable and post-snap reads can be taught, but many scouts will tell you that accuracy is much harder to learn. Darnold has a lot of potential and if he can improve in these two areas he can be a starter for several years in the NFL.
I will not elaborate too much on Rosen for this particular article due to the fact that he ultimately doesn’t want to play for the Browns (Pretty Simple). According to ESPN’s Adam Shefter, Rosen doesn’t want to be drafted by Cleveland because of the inconsistency in management and the quarterback position. I have two opinions about this that are nearly the exact opposite. First: He’s got a point, I don’t know if I would want to either. Second: Cleveland is looking for someone to fill this void and bring consistency to their franchise, why not you?
Now to the brief evaluation. Rosen shows off the his arm strength and accuracy on a consistent basis, but only when the pocket is clean. For example, Josh carved up Hawaii in one half with and 88% completion percentage, 5 touchdowns, and over 300 yards and he was rarely pressured in this game. Compare this to his stat-line against Washington (yes, I know he was injured 5 minutes into the third quarter) where he had 93 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception, and a 57% completion percentage.
In both of these games he played at most part of the third quarter and was pressured often in the Washington game. Though the offensive line didn’t fair well against Washington, it was not only their fault. Rosen has shown time and time again that he struggles to get the ball out in a quick manner and often holds on to the ball too long.
Despite this, he is the ideal quarterback on the field. The accuracy is there, arm strength is present, size, and IQ are evident. But the last concerning thing that one must take into consideration is how much he cares about the sport of football. Rosen has perked up the ears of scouts with his off-the-field conversations about the reason he wants to play football in the future. Many do not thing that he is the ideal leader or role model for a franchise, so I would not recommend a team taking him if they have a lack of leadership in the locker room.
The quarterback with the best potential is Josh Allen. The quarterback with the lowest floor and highest bust potential . . . yep, still Josh Allen. He has the best arm strength that I have seen out of a draftable quarterback within the last five years (at least) and his athleticism is evident. There are several reasons to compare him to Sam Darnold, but he tends to be less accurate then him, has a stronger arm, and needs to improve his footwork more. Josh is not a quarterback who I would want to draft and start in week one of the 2018 season. He is a developmental project who needs to improve his footwork and consistency of pre-snap and post-snap reads. If he can do this, along with improving his accuracy, he can be an elite NFL quarterback. There was one throw in Wyoming’s bowl game that literally (I’m using this term in it’s legitimate definition) made my jaw drop.
The offense starts in a 1-2-2 set in the I-formation, on Central Michigan’s 24 yard line. Allen play-actions left and steps back to throw and begins to look left towards his receiver his is running a deep post route. Josh launches the ball (he probably required a permit to throw it) over the linebackers covering the middle of field and split two defenders. The ball was placed into the receiver’s hands without forcing him to break stride and was put in a position where the defenders had no chance to touch it. This throw is one that I would assume that only a handful of quarterbacks could actually make. The issue is that he can not consistently make plays like this.
Mayfield is perhaps the most controversial off the field when compared to these other three quarterbacks and he is often compared to Johnny Manziel. His comparison to Manziel is because of his size, mobility, and the number of issues you hear about Baker off the field. However, these two are much different players and people in life, and this comparison is ridiculous.
Baker Mayfield’s ability as a quarterback is just as good as some of the other quarterbacks I have mentioned. He is the most accurate of the quarterback group and he consistently wins games. There is a reason he won the Heisman Trophy in 2017, and the statistical evidence backs it up. He racked up nearly 5000 total yards and 48 total touchdowns with only 6 interceptions. Mayfield has had two consecutive seasons with over a 70% completion percentage. He is not perfect of course, as his inconsistent footwork and arm strength are an issue. It has led to turnovers and he several instances where an errant pass was dropped by a defender. The Oklahoma quarterback has his issues, but the good heavily outweigh the bad.
Not only does Baker show his off his accuracy in the pocket but he shows it off on the run too. One example of this came in the big matchup against Ohio State on the road in the second game of the season. The Sooners are 4-0-1 set with the running back to the right of Mayfield. He takes the snap and play-actions to the left and begins to roll right. The wide receiver who started the play wide to the left runs a deep crossing to the right and sneaks behind a deep safety. Mayfield finds him and releases the ball quickly and floats the ball over a defender. The ball is placed in the receiver’s hands without forcing him to break stride and it allows the receiver to gain nearly 20 yards after the catch.
Mayfield has a lot of pro level skills but these tend to be overshadowed by the other athletic and mobile quarterbacks that have failed in the past. However, he has NFL starter accuracy and his leadership on the field is something every locker room wants. His off the field antics are something to keep an eye out for, but the on the field antics are seen as competitive in many circles rather than arrogant. I am one of those people.
The Best QB for the Browns is …
The Browns are not in the position to develop a quarterback for a year and then to start him the following year (Look at Kizer). They need a quarterback that can come in and play competent enough to not bring the team down but someone who is coachable and is willing to be the leader of the team. This rules out Allen and Rosen. As interesting as it would be to see Mayfield in a Browns jersey, management and fans would be to scared to draft Mayfield at this point and the amount of potential for Mayfield is lower than the other top quarterbacks. This leaves them with one option, Sam Darnold.
I believe Darnold has enough potential to be a consistent starter for the Browns for several years and has the talent to compete right now. Though it hasn’t been evident yet, Hue Jackson is known for being a quarterbacks’ coach and he should be able to groom Sam to pro-bowl level.
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