Oct 15, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Mitch Trubisky (10) attempts a pass against the Miami Hurricanes during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
The 2017 NFL Draft approaches with the Cleveland Browns on the clock. Will they take the sure thing? Or the hometown kid?
The Cleveland Browns do the most perplexing things. They have somehow managed to lose for well over a decade and mismanage their drafts at an improbable rate.
But why? Like the Merovingian states in the 2003 movie The Matrix Reloaded, “Why is the only real source of power. Without it, you are powerless.” But unlike Neo, Trinity and Morpheus this article comes to you with “why”.
The question for the Browns draft is, why would the Browns choose Mitchell Tribusky in the face of what seems to be a sure thing in Myles Garrett? Yes, there is no sure thing but Myles Garrett is the closest thing in this draft to a sure thing.
Reportedly, there is concern around the league that the Browns will mess up this draft by passing over Myles Garrett for a lesser rated player at the quarterback position. One NFL executive said, “I feel sorry for them”.
But if the Browns pass on Myles Garret, Browns fans, along with the rest of the NFL, will be asking why. Why would they take a quarterback over Myles Garret?
Disclaimer: I am not advocating that the Browns take Mitchell Trubisky first overall. I am merely stating why they may do it.
Sep 17, 2016; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Mitch Trubisky (10) looks to pass in the first quarter at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
5. Most pro-ready quarterback in the NFL Draft
For all of Trubisky’s flaws, he remains the most “pro-ready” quarterback in the draft. He is a pocket passer who was asked to read defenses at North Carolina.
Several positive things jump off the tape about Tribusky. He has a strong arm. He can make every NFL throw. He stays in the pocket. Pocket awareness is a major problem for quarterbacks coming out of college. However, Trubisky stays in the pocket and avoids pressure.
Quick through his progressions and will double back to targets if his protection allows him time. Pocket mechanics and throwing motion are solid. Tough and competitive. Shows courage and poise in the pocket. Throws passes from balanced platforms and rarely defaults to an off-balance throw unnecessarily. Has all the arm you need. NFL call sheets will be wide open with Trubisky at the helm. Can dial up deep field-side outs with accuracy. Ball comes humming out of his hand when he needs to spike his velocity. Arm talent to whip a catchable throw from difficult angles to targets outside the numbers. Makes the standard “pitch and catch” throws with consistent accuracy. Ball usually comes out on time.
A quarterback who sits in the pocket, gets rid of the ball on time accurately will succeed it the NFL.
Yet there are questions about Trubisky. The biggest question about Trubisky is his one year of starting. While it is true that one year starters have a higher bust rate than those with multiple years starting, Trubisky remains the most pro-ready of this years quarterback class. So he must have done something right in his one year starting. Scouts just want to see him do it two years in a row.
His NFL.com scouting report describes his weakness as those similar to any quarterback coming out of a spread offense in college:
Almost 98 percent of his dropbacks came from shotgun. Will have to learn NFL footwork from under center which could take time. Benefits from offense loaded with RPOs (run-pass option) that pull linebackers forward and open easier throwing windows. Played in space-based passing attack that didn’t often ask him to throw to tight windows in traffic.
His biggest weakness right now seems to be his lack of playing time in college.
The Browns may take Trubisky simply because they need a quarterback and he is the most pro-ready quarterback in the draft.
Sep 26, 2015; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Mitch Trubisky (10) with ball as Delaware Fightin Blue Hens defensive back Tenny Adewusi (8) defends in the fourth quarter. The Tar Heels defeated the Delaware Fightin Blue Hens 41-14 at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
4. Defensive players are a bigger risk than QB
The Browns may be a little gun shy on Myles Garrett given the less than stellar success rate of defensive players picked first overall in the draft.
There have been 15 defensive players selected #1 overall in the common draft era (since 1967)
Seven of the fifteen defensive players picked first overall went on to the pro-bowl. Translation: taking a defensive player first overall is risky business. The analytically driven Browns front office is aware of the success rate of defensive players taken first overall.
The Browns are in the middle of a rebuilding project seeking to restore some sense of even mediocrity to the team. With the first overall pick, the Browns need to take a player that will impact the team for years to come. Historically, the success rate of defensive players making an impact on the team is extremely poor.
The Browns may decide, and it may be a good decision, to bypass a defensive player at the top of the draft for the best overall quarterback in the draft. The reasoning would be simple and twofold. First, defensive players often do not make an impact on the team. Second, quarterbacks taken first overall have a high success rate.
This may be a different case given that Trubisky is not the consensus best player available at a premium position. But if the Browns take Trubisky, the lack of success of defensive players may be a contributing factor as to why.
Oct 30, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns former quarterback Bernie Kosar during halftime between the Cleveland Browns and the New York Jets at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Jets won 31-28. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
3. Bernie Kosar
It may sound odd, but the Browns could take Mitchell Trubisky because of Bernie Kosar. Kosar was the Northeast Ohio boy who played quarterback for the Miami Hurricanes. When the draft rolled around, he openly stated he wanted to play for the Cleveland Browns.
Kosar went on to manipulate the draft to put himself in position to be selected by the Cleveland Browns. Ultimately, then commissioner Paul Tagliabue gave Kosar the choice of where he wanted to play by entering either the regular draft or the supplemental draft. Kosar chose the Browns then led them to some of the most magical years in Browns history.
The Browns have been awful for a while. Cleveland is a football town. But with the success of the Cavaliers and Indians, the Browns are starting to lose their fan base. With the awful record last year, fans need something to keep them interested in the Browns. Drafting Trubisky, another Northeast Ohio boy who openly states he wants to play for the Browns, could bring relevance back to the Browns in Cleveland. If he helps transform them into a winner, the Browns will capture the minds and hearts of the city.
Trubisky represents the perfect homecoming story. It is story that has already played out with Bernie Kosar. The Browns may be hoping to catch lightening in a bottle twice.
Aug 18, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, right, talks with executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown during pre-game against the Atlanta Falcons at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
2. Owner’s pick
There was a lot of speculation that owner Jimmy Haslam was influential in bringing Johnny Manziel to Cleveland.
And why not? Johnny Manziel was a marketing dream come true. He was first freshman player to win the Heisman Trophy. He rifled through the SEC, although he never won an SEC title. His charm, grit and gunslinger mentality was a public relations dream come true.
As Browns fans know, he quickly became a public relations nightmare. His party lifestyle affected his play and quickly alienated fans. After an extended stay at a rehabilitation facility, Manziel continued his party ways and was ultimately released by the Browns.
But the history is there to show that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam may intervene come draft day to secure the services of a player who can be highly marketed around Cleveland. Browns fans hope there are no homeless people giving Haslam advice about drafting quarterbacks.
Nevertheless, it is not beyond the realm of possibility and could be a reason why the Browns take Mitchell Trubisky. The hometown boy who comes home to lead his team to the pinnacle of his sport. It worked for LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, why could it not work the Cleveland Browns?
The Browns may take Trubisky to sell the story line once more.
Jan 13, 2016; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns new head coach Hue Jackson (left) and Vice President of Football Operations Sashi Brown talk during a press conference at the Cleveland Browns training facility. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
1. The plan was to take a QB all along
The Browns cannot win for losing. The point of tearing the roster down to the studs was to get the first overall pick. The purpose was to pick a sure fire bona fide franchise quarterback with that pick.
People who say the Browns are cursed point to situations like this as proof.
The Browns need a quarterback to turn things around. It just so happens that the best quarterback in the draft is from Northeast Ohio and wants to play for the Browns. It all seems too good to be true because only in Cleveland can earning the first overall pick lock the team out of the best quarterback in the draft.
If the Browns had the second pick in the draft, nobody would bat an eye at them taking Mitchell Trubisky. The storyline by itself makes it a scene from a great movie. Can’t you just see it? Trubisky rides in on his horse to whip his posse into shape. Then he takes them out to tame wild wild AFC North. It is the perfect story.
But the Browns have the first pick and cannot pass up a once in a lifetime generational player like Myles Garrett. Or can they?
If the Browns take Trubisky, it is because it was the plan all along. Lose the games. Get the franchise quarterback. Then build the team around him. And it just so happened that the potential franchise quarterback is from Cleveland and wants to play for the Browns.
Now that the “why” is parsed, Cleveland Browns Executive VP of Football Operations Sashi Brown and gang need to go boldly into the NFL Draft and pick whoever is the best player for the Cleveland Browns. If that player turns out to be Mitchell Trubisky, at least the question of “why” makes more sense.