The Browns are a fascinating team to watch in 2016, particularly early on. They probably won’t be very good, but they hold two first-round picks for 2017, including one from the Eagles, who they will play in Week 1.
Win or lose, their draft position improves. What makes the first week so enticing is Philly facing the quarterback they didn’t want to draft.
Wentz could’ve been on the other side of things, if Cleveland had drafted him, but according to chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta, the Browns didn’t view him as someone who could become a top-tier quarterback.
DePodesta opened up about the subject of evaluating quarterbacks in a lengthy interview with Tony Grossi of ESPN and, without being rude, he made it clear they don’t see Wentz as a franchise quarterback.
“We have to make judgments on the individual players and we’re not always going to be right,” DePodesta said. “But in this particular case, we just didn’t feel it was necessarily the right bet to make for us at this time. Again, it comes down to individual evaluation of a player. We will not always be right on those type of things.
“I think the hardest part, and where we have to stay the most disciplined, as much as you want a player, you can’t invent him if he doesn’t exist. In a given year, there may be two or three NFL-ready quarterbacks at the college level. In another year, there literally may be zero. There just may be not be anybody in that year who’s good enough to be a top 20 quarterback in the NFL.
“Even though you have a desperate need for one, you have to resist the temptation of taking that guy just because you have a need if you don’t believe he’s one of those 20 guys at the end of the day. I think that’s the hardest part, just maintaining your discipline because you have the need. That’s what we did this year.”
Week 1 alone won’t decide whether the Browns were right or wrong to pass on Wentz. If he lights up Cleveland’s defense up and looks like a future superstar, it doesn’t mean they made a mistake, but it absolutely will cause panic in Cleveland.
The reality is DePodesta is right: needing a quarterback routinely results in NFL teams reaching for players or making personnel mistakes in attempts to acquire said quarterback. There is a short shelf life for NFL front offices, and gambling on quarterbacks is part of the process when there’s little patience for people who run teams.
Maintaining discipline, trusting your process and acquiring the best possible quarterback candidate is the way to approach things. Nothing else has worked in Cleveland before, so why not give it a try.
Of course, there’s also one guy in Wentz who will be plenty motivated to prove the Browns still don’t know what they’re doing.
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / Browns exec explains why Cleveland passed on drafting Carson Wentz