Thanks to North Carolina junior quarterback Mitch Trubisky declaring for the 2017 NFL Draft Monday afternoon, the Cleveland Browns have an extra amount of pressure on them to take him with the top overall pick in April.
Trubisky, a native of the greater Cleveland suburb of Mentor and former standout for the Mentor High Cardinals, passed for 3,748 yards, 30 touchdowns and six interceptions in his lone year as a starter down in Chapel Hill. A noted Browns fan from birth, and the need for Cleveland to get a franchise-caliber type of quarterback, the outcry from local media and fans to select Trubisky will be immense.
Can reaching for the No.1 QB prospect—per Mel Kiper Jr—in Trubisky be justified at No.1 overall though, with a 1-15 team in need of so many other areas in need of being addressed?
Sad to say, but in my 40 years of life on this rock, if there is one thing I’ve learned about the Cleveland Browns franchise is that, they unlike other franchise’s allow their fans to influence their decisions, directly or indirectly.
Yes, they are the one’s who buy the PSL’s, eat their way-overpriced food and faithfully pack the orange-hued “Factory of Sadness” also known as FirstEnergy Stadium, but in their defense, they have been through so many losing seasons, multiple front offices and a seemingly non-stop carousel of head coaches and quarterbacks that you can’t really blame them for seeing what I see.
Cleveland needs to grab its guy! Period.
But is it the local kid named Mitch? Is he worth a first-round pick?
All-time franchise nemesis John Elway notwithstanding—but I grew up during the era of the last great Cleveland quarterback—and my personal idol—as well as my reason for getting into the journalism/digital content business in Bernie Kosar, who led the Browns to three AFC title games in the 80’s.
What followed was a sad parade of quarterbacks such as Vinny Testaverde, Todd Philcox, Eric Zeier, Tim Couch, Brady Quinn, Charlie Frye, Kelly Holcomb, Jake Delhomme, Colt McCoy, Brandon Weeden, Brian Hoyer, Johnny Manziel, Josh AND Luke McCown, Robert Griffin III, Kevin Hogan and now Cody Kessler could potentially add another name to that list in Trubisky.
As I’ve stated all year here, here, here and here, Cleveland needs to address both the offensive and defensive lines first BEFORE reaching for a quarterback in what is regarded as a anemic class such as Trubisky, DeShone Kizer, Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes II and wait for what will be a much ballyhooed class that will likely include USC’s Sam Darnold, Cal’s Josh Rosen, Louisville’s Lamar Jackson and Washington’s Jake Browning.
Any one of these prospects—in my opinion could be taken with Cleveland’s second first round pick at No.12 (via Philadelphia) at the earliest at the top of the second round at No.33 or No.52 (via the Tennessee Titans), but the bottom line is that the Browns MUST address the more crucial areas of OL, DL, ILB, CB and S at all costs.
What concerns me if I’m a Browns fan is that if Trubisky lights up the NFL Scouting Combine and really starts to trend upwards, combined with fans demanding that the Nerd Herd select him, a year after passing on Carson Wentz, as they would see him as the second coming of Kosar, and the Browns would have a unique draft-day conundrum fit for a train-wreck of a franchise in Cleveland.
The headlines of Cleveland selecting Trubisky No.1 overall would write themselves for days on end, as the 6’3 220-pounder would be showered with fanfare of being the savior of the pathetic Browns not seen since the Cavs took some other local kid from Akron named LeBron.
That combined with the pressure of being home in front of friends and family to lead the Browns back to glory, could either mold Trubisky into Cleveland’s elusive franchise “guy” or make him another name in a long line of busts under center for the Browns.
I don’t wish that kind of pressure on anyone, let alone a guy who COULD very well be “the one” in Trubisky, but if the Browns are for once smart and take the best player available, the price of passing on a local kid for the sake of drafting him and getting impact players and winning down the line, will be that much sweeter in the end.