How to win friends and influence people before the NFL Draft

The Browns are taking a QB first overall, don't be fooled

Anthony Lima
March 20, 2018 - 12:23 pm

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There are 37 days left until the NFL Draft and for the last two months, I’ve been reminding fans over and over again that there’s one thing they can do to impress their friends – or at the very least – there’s one thing they can do to sound like they didn’t just start following football once Johnny Manziel put on a wig and a mustache in Vegas:  Let them all know the Browns are taking a quarterback number one overall. 

And yet somehow, somehow, fans on the phones that have called into the show the last few months continue with this fantasy that exists in their minds that the Browns should bypass a draft that one well-respected recent coach believed to be “The best QB class in the last 20 years” and instead draft a running back.

It’s lunacy of the highest order – and it ignores years of well-maintained NFL doctrine that QB is the most important position in sports. It ignores that your franchise is nothing long-term until it has a QB. It ignores that a QB’s lifespan is three times as long as a RB lifespan. It ignores that the league rules have been manipulated to protect one position (QB) more than the rest. It ignores that league rules have been manipulated for entertainment purposes to make sure the ball stays in the air as opposed to the ground (apparently three yards and a cloud of dust doesn’t exactly jive with TV ratings). It ignores the way the NFL markets the QB position as its version of the NBA superstar. 

And yet, as I consistently recite those talking points, people act as if they just woke up from a 20-year coma and the last football they knew was a league before Mike Shanahan unfeatured the feature back. They act as if the league hasn’t evolved in such a way where teams consistently trade up for QBs every single year. They act as if Browns GM John Dorsey didn’t just trade up for Patrick Mahomes last year so that his former team could be well-adjusted once the aging Alex Smith plan would run its course. They act like the Redskins didn’t just desperately trade up for Alex Smith to solve their QB situation once the Kirk Cousins plan ran its course. They act like the Washington Redskins didn’t just desperately give Kirk Cousins the most guaranteed money in NFL history once their Sam Bradford/Case Keenum/Teddy Bridgewater plans ran their course.

I could go on, and on – but you get the picture

Here’s one example that should help crystallize all of this craziness for you. Adrian Peterson is one of the best running backs I’ve seen in the last 30 years. He's a league MVP, a 7-time Pro Bowler, a 3-time rushing champ and he’s 12th all-time in the NFL in rushing. Quite simply, he’s a sure-fire Hall of Famer.  And yet, I would take Philip Rivers over him every single time. Yes, Rivers is also a 7-time Pro Bowler, but he’s also no sure thing to get into Canton. They both played during the same era and Rivers has made just one more playoff appearance than Peterson. But Rivers is four years older than Peterson and has he showed last year during the Chargers’ late run, he still had plenty left in the tank. Not to mention that in the last two minutes of a game, who is a team entrusting to manage the final moments in a comeback attempt or a set of downs to seal a win? It’s the QB every single time. 

And yet so many of you guys still want Saquon Barkley. Total idiocy.

I’m sure the same way people think department stores are coming back. Or they order their dairy from the milkman.  Or you’re still meeting members of the opposite sex at a bar (huh? We have Apps for this!). The league is in a completely different place now than it was even 20 years ago and yet fans refuse to except that the running back position is today’s version of a department store. Sure it might get the job done, but, are you sure this is how you want to address your needs in 2018?

My guess is that fans feel like they’ve been let down so often at the QB position that the trauma has rattled them. I get it, you’re more apt to stay away from the alley way that you got jumped and robbed years ago. The scar tissue is still there from Brady Quinn, Brandon Weeden and Johnny Manziel.  But for the first time since 1999, the Browns have a chance in a loaded QB class to evaluate the best one and shoot their shot. The Barkley defenders even admit that they can just “get a decent guy at 4,” which is one of the worst arguments going in sports talk. So the Browns, who just suffered through arguably the worst stretch in NFL history with just one win in two years, and an 0-16 season thrown in as the worst cherry on top ever, are going to let other teams dictate their franchise QB? 

No chance. It’s not happening, and John Dorsey wouldn’t dream of such a scenario. No way he would come to this organization with the opportunity of a lifetime and instead punt on the most important position in sports. Remember that his first order of business in Kansas City was to acquire Alex Smith to begin their terrific run over the last five years. The Browns weren’t able to get Smith this time around and never were truly in the running for Kirk Cousins. So they went the safe route and brought in Tyrod Taylor from the Bills. It was the smart move to avoid having to rush a 21-year old rookie QB onto the field on a young team with nothing but losses stored in the collective memory bank of the team.

Dorsey has got to be salivating at the chances to take the top QB in this class. Just how good is it? NFL Network’s scouting guru Daniel Jeremiah says two of these QBs  have a higher grade coming out of college than the no. 1 overall pick from 2016, Jared Goff. He says four of them have higher grades than last year's no. 1 Mitch Trubisky, and the second QB taken, Deshaun Watson. He’s also not alone. Every draftnik we’ve had on the show has re-affirmed this class of QBs is exceptional.  It’s what we’ve all been waiting for since Bernie Kosar: A chance to finally fix the position of need that can forever alter the state of the Browns. 

So I’m giving you the opportunity to sound smart at parties. To make sure you’re not getting the crazy emojis in your text threads. To avoid getting ripped on your company’s SLACK messaging by your boss. Be the smart one for a change. The next time you’re asked about what the Browns should do at 1, tell them in your best Cajun James Carville voice, "it’s the QB stupid."

Now as for which QB? Well that’s an entirely different discussion.