If you’re a Cleveland Browns fan, it’s never too early to look at mock drafts. Heck, one day after the 2016 draft, people were already trying to decide what Cleveland would do next year with its more-than-likely high pick. Naturally, with the Browns on the eternal hunt for a franchise quarterback, most of the mock drafts are already predicting them nabbing one next spring, whether it be Deshaun Watson, DeShone Kizer or a yet-to-be-named player.
Which is why Sports Illustrated’s latest mock draft was such a surprise. The Browns position as owners of the top overall pick wasn’t a shock, but the fact the publication predicted they’d take Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett sure was.
No disrespect to the Aggie – seen by many as the top prospect available – but this pick would be made under the assumption Cleveland already has its franchise QB. Are we to believe, fresh off his first start, rookie Cody Kessler removes the need for the Browns to draft a quarterback next year?
Honestly, it’s way too early for that. The former USC Trojan rebounded from a shaky start last Sunday, turning in a solid performance in the loss to the Miami Dolphins. However, we’ll need much more evidence to prove he can even remotely considered the future in Cleveland.
That said, should Kessler put forth another good showing this Sunday in Washington, he’ll certainly earn something. Many people think Josh McCown or Robert Griffin III need to be reinserted whenever their respective injuries heal, but if Kessler plays well this weekend, he should be the starter for the rest of the year.
Sure, there are arguments you can make against this case. For one, Kessler wasn’t even supposed to take the field this season. He looked good against the Dolphins, but wouldn’t the safe assumption be to get him back to the sideline once a more experienced quarterback is ready?
To that point, I would counter with a simple question – what would the Browns gain by switching back to McCown?
A veteran presence and someone who showed an ability to run an offense? Sure. Still, shifting to a complete youth movement has been the primary focus of Cleveland’s front office. The team has been purposely loaded with rookies in an attempt to build a foundation. The plan is and always has been getting raw and talented players the experience they need by throwing them in the deep end right away.
With that said, why would the Browns replace Kessler the second one of the other quarterbacks is available? He proved last weekend that he wasn’t as jittery and unprepared as everyone expected, and should he build on that instead of revert, you have to hand him the reins.
Going on, just what exactly is Cleveland aiming for this year? Wanting McCown back on the field seems to indicate the assumption he could help the Browns win more games. Barring some sudden transformation, however, this team isn’t gunning for any sort of playoff spot this year.
So, wouldn’t it make more sense to ride with Kessler if he proves up to the task? Wouldn’t Cleveland be all in on getting another rookie developed as quickly as possible, especially if he’s the quarterback?
Remember, this is coach Hue Jackson‘s pick. He told us to trust his selection of Kessler back in April. Though he might be nobody’s idea of a franchise quarterback, Jackson sure seems intent on trying to make him his.
With that said, if Kessler continues to perform consistently, you have to give him the job from here on out. Replacing him with McCown or Griffin the second one of them is healthy is only going to pause or, even worse, stunt Kessler’s development. It also wouldn’t give Cleveland a good enough look at him before having to decide whether or not they can pass on a quarterback come next spring.
The Browns certainly aren’t yet in a position to do that yet. At the same time, they do find themselves with an opportunity to see what they have in Kessler. If he even remotely looks like he could be a long-term answer, he deserves as many starts as they can give him.