Last month, I broke down the three legit options for the Cleveland Browns at quarterback through free agency and trades.
- Jimmy Garoppolo
- Tyrod Taylor
- Colin Kaepernick
Wednesday morning, Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that the Patriots do not expect to trade Garoppolo. Although nothing’s been official, it looks like the Buffalo Bills will retain Tyrod Taylor despite his 27.5 million dollar option. Colin Kaepernick will opt out of his contract and become a free agent but according to Cleveland.com, the Browns will not pursue him despite strong interest last offseason.
So while it looks like the established options won’t be available for the Browns, they’ll focus their attention to the prospects at the quarterback positions. This week at the NFL Scouting Combine, they’ll be able to sit down with these prospects and get to know them a lot better as the process continues towards April’s draft. Some of the quarterbacks have already met the men in charge of the Browns at the Senior Bowl where the Browns coached the South squad.
With the team holding five of the top 65 selections, you’d have to believe that the team will select a quarterback with one of those selections.
Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina
The Northeast Ohio native is the top quarterback prospect by many of the experts and is my favorite prospect at the position. Despite only 13 starts at North Carolina, Trubisky put up some incredible numbers during his only season as the starter. He completed 68% of his passes for 3,748 yards, 30 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Many are questioning Trubisky’s height and whether he’s 6’1 or 6’3 and that could affect his draft stock post combine. Trubisky measured in at 6’2, just so happens that Browns head coach Hue Jackson said that’s his threshold height for a QB.
Trubisky has an NFL arm and can throw an accurate ball from the pocket as well as on the run. Despite playing in a spread offense at UNC, he has the ability to read defenses and can start right away.
His lack of experience in college will scare people and lazy fans and analysts will compare him to Mark Sanchez who also was limited but ended up being a top five pick in 2009. Of course that turned out to be a horrible selection for the Jets but Trubisky has far better attributes than Sanchez.
I think Trubisky will be in consideration for the number one pick but Myles Garrett is too great of a prospect to pass up. If for some reason Trubisky starts to fall, the Browns should move up from 12 and go get the kid.
DeShone Kizer, Norte Dame
The most intriguing of the quarterback prospects is Kizer. The 6’4, 230 pound gunslinger from Notre Dame has the tools to be an elite NFL quarterback in the future but still plenty of question marks about him.
In 2015, Kizer completed 63% of his passes 2,880 yards, 21 touchdowns and 10 interceptions and led the Fighting Irish to a Fiesta Bowl appearance.
He was named the starter for the 2016 season and put up similar numbers with 2,925 yards, 26 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. Looks good, right?
However, his completion percentage dropped to 59% and Notre Dame finished with a 4-8 record. Kizer decided to leave school early as a redshirt sophomore and many point the blame to head coach Brian a Kelly for his and the team’s struggles in 2016.
Kizer is still very raw and needs to time to develop. Experts say his ability to read the field is one of his tools he needs to work on. But his size, arm strength and mobility is going to be what gets him drafted early.
I think he can be an option for the Browns at 12 but he’ll be a huge risk and with how the team runs through quarterbacks, Kizer would get on the field too early and it may ruin his pro career. Unless the Browns have two solid, durable options in front of him, there’s no reason to draft this kid so early when you can get other options that can contribute now.
Deshaun Watson, Clemson
Watson is the enigma of the quarterback class. He put up some incredible numbers in his two seasons as full time starter at Clemson.
In 2015-2016 combined:
- 8,697 passing yards, 76 passing touchdowns
- 1,734 rushing yards, 21 rushing touchdowns
- Two-time Heisman finalist
- Two appearances in National Championship (one win)
And his numbers against Alabama in both championship games are even more staggering:
- 64.1% completion percentage
- 825 passing yards
- 7 touchdowns
- 1 interception
- 116 rushing yards
- 1 rushing touchdown
So why isn’t he the top rated quarterback and consensus number one pick?
His accuracy is too up and down according to scouts. His vision and ability to read defenses are a concern as well as his frame. Now he has added some weight since the college season ended, weighing in at 221 pounds at the combine.
His leadership qualities can’t be denied and Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said whoever passed on him would be like passing on Michael Jordan. That’s a bold statement but it’s his coach and will talk highly of any of his players like a coach should in public.
His number of interceptions in college will scare people but Jameis Winston and Matt Ryan also threw a lot of interceptions and they were still top five picks. Watson’s also going to need time to adjust from his college offense to a pro style.
Like Kizer, he should sit and develop for at least one season before he becomes a full time starter in the NFL. Media reports say the Browns love Watson and could take him at 12, if they do love him then they need to find a bridge-veteran type who can help mentor Watson as well as let him sit for his rookie season.
Pat Mahomes, Texas Tech
Pat Mahomes out of Texas Tech is the name that’s rising up by the media’s standards but NFL scouts already have this kid as a first round talent. Putting up some incredible numbers in the Red Raiders’ offense but he has some traits that compare him to a former Browns first round QB.
Mahomes likes to scramble and improvise like Johnny Manziel and he’s made it work at the college level. But much like Manziel, he needs to learn how to play within a structured NFL offense and from the pocket. Only difference is teams don’t have to worry about Mahomes off the field behavior like Manziel.
Mahomes has the big arm and accuracy to succeed in the NFL, just needs time to develop. He looks like a first round pick but hopefully lands in a situation where he can sit and develop.
The Senior Bowl QBs
The Cleveland Browns have already got an early look from these guys and could be targets in the middle to late rounds. If they take one of the four top prospects, it still wouldn’t hurt to draft another later on.
- Davis Webb, Cal
- Nathan Petermann, Pittsburgh
- Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee
Webb transferred from Texas Tech to Cal after losing the job to Mahomes. He replaced 2016 #1 overall pick Jared Goff and put up some solid numbers with 4,295 yards, 37 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
He’s got a big frame at 6’5, 229 pounds but scouts are worried about his accuracy throwing the ball downfield. He’ll be drafted as high as the second round and could be a target at either pick 33 or 52 for the Browns as a developmental project.
Petermann started out at Tennessee but was benched and replaced by Dobbs. He transferred to Pitt and a nice solid two seasons as the starter.
He’s been drawing comparisons to Derek Carr and his experience in a pro style offense will give him an edge over some of the other prospects. He measured out at 9 7/8 inch hands which will give him a nice grip on the football especially in the cold weather.
He could be a target for the Browns in the late second or early third round.
Dobbs was the starter at Tennessee for the last two seasons and made big strides from his junior to senior year. Improving his completion percentage from 59.6 to 63%, 15 touchdowns in 2015 to 27 in 2016. His interceptions however also went up from 5 to 12.
He’s dynamic also as he can scramble and has some speed too running for a combined 2,160 yards (4.9 yards per carry) and 32 rushing touchdowns during his total four years at Tennessee.
Scouts say he hasn’t really made great strides with his accuracy and placement of the football during his college career. But with his size and ability to make plays outside of the pocket, Dobbs could be intriguing to teams in the mid to late rounds.
Todd McShay said after the Senior Bowl that Dobbs looked improved under Hue Jackson’s watch. Jackson could look to keep developing Dobbs if the Browns choose to draft him come April.