In early March, I wrote about how coach Hue Jackson would likely be the determining factor when it came to whether or not the Cleveland Browns would take a quarterback with the top overall draft pick. Since he told everyone at the NFL Combine he had taken the responsibility of finding the team’s franchise QB, it was only natural to assume he would need to give his stamp of approval on whoever the team takes.
I bring this up because, per numerous rumors and reports, it sure sounds as though Jackson doesn’t want to take a quarterback first overall this Thursday at the draft. Many pundits have noted Cleveland’s coach would much rather select defensive end Myles Garrett, seen by many as the best available prospect.
If this is indeed the case, you’d be safe in assuming that’s who the Browns will take. If Jackson doesn’t see any quarterback in this class worthy of the first selection, Cleveland shouldn’t use its top pick on this position.
Unfortunately, it appears things aren’t that simple. The same reports which claim Jackson wants Garrett also note the Browns front office wants to take QB Mitch Trubisky at No.1. Though the former UNC Tar Heel is viewed as the best quarterback prospect, many feel drafting him first overall is a severe reach.
So, instead of Jackson being the determining factor, it now appears the Browns’ selection will depend on whether or not the front office ignores his opinion.
If you ask me, the team can’t afford to tune him out here. Not for the second year in a row.
Sure, on the surface it seemed like Jackson had no issue with Cleveland selecting quarterback Cody Kessler last year. Despite the fact the former USC Trojan being taken in the third round was seen as an enormous reach, the Browns’ coach insisted everyone needed to trust him with this pick.
However, as the season went on, evidence continued to pile up suggesting Kessler wasn’t Jackson’s choice. He kept the rookie on a short leash, even pulling him from a game in which he was performing decently. By the end of the season, Jackson’s comments on Kessler were hardly as effusive as they were on draft night, leaving many to believe the decision to pick him was a front office call.
While Jackson appeared willing to carry the water for his bosses in attempt to convince us everyone was on the same page, it’s difficult to believe he’d be willing to do so again. He’s continued to make comments which indicate Kessler is not in his future plans, even going so far as to note he doesn’t have the size he’d prefer at quarterback.
So, when you hear reports of disagreement in Cleveland, that the front office is once again apparently pushing a quarterback on Jackson he may not be sold on, it’s concerning. Sure, Trubisky projects to have a stronger future than Kessler. Still, we’ve already seen how Jackson reacts when having a quarterback forced upon him despite not buying in to his abilities.
Simply put, the Browns cannot go through this same process again.
Yes, the higher-ups should have significant input on who to pick. That said, if they force Jackson to work with another quarterback he doesn’t deem to be a good fit, it could severely hurt said player’s development. Cleveland’s coach has already shown limited patience when dealing with a QB he can’t work with. Trubisky is seen as a raw prospect, so it’s tough to believe his growth will be helped if the man in charge of molding his career doesn’t think he’s suitable for his system.
This, of course, would result in adding another failed attempt to find a franchise QB to a team which can’t afford to keep swinging and missing at this position.
The team still has a couple days to come to a conclusion, and for all we know Jackson may end up buying in to the idea of taking Trubisky at No.1. However, if he’s not convinced, if Jackson once again isn’t comfortable with the QB the front office wants, he can’t be ignored for the second straight year.
Such a scenario might result in his not being around to be tuned out come next season.
Casey Drottar is an independent sports writer. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook