The Cleveland Browns are a hot topic at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this week, a curiosity of sorts given their draft position, perennial quarterback need, 1-15 record last season and a coach, Hue Jackson, who doesn’t shrink from the spotlight.
With that in mind, here are five thoughts regarding the state of the Browns as they contemplate the future:
1. They need everything.
Every year the Browns somehow manage to be in one phase or another of a rebuilding project, so they inexplicably always can use help at just about every position, not just quarterback. So if you’re a mid-level prospect at the Combine and the thought of playing in Cleveland does not repulse you, be sure to sound excited when interviewing with team personnel because chances are there’s an opening, no matter what position you see yourself playing.
2. If you’re a quarterback, stand tall.
Fortunately for North Carolina’s Mitchell “Don’t call me Mitch” Trubisky and his dreams of playing for his hometown team, he was on the tall side of 6-foot-2 when measured the other day. Jackson thinks that’s the magical height for an NFL quarterback. Yes, the game has changed since 6-foot, noodle-armed Brian Sipe earned NFL MVP honors with the 1980 Browns. Of course, Drew Brees is on his way to the Hall of Fame at that height, but the question, given what we now know, is why Jackson wanted — and gushed over — 6-foot-1 Cody Kessler in the third round last year if he was an inch short of paydirt.
3. The head coach is desperate.
The upcoming draft and free-agent decisions will go a long way toward determining whether the Jackson era extends to a third season or even finishes a second. Last year’s 1-15 record won’t be hard to top, but another sub-five win total and it’s hard to imagine owner Jimmy Haslam and wife not wanting to make a change as their credibility further erodes. That’s why Jackson must insist on making any and all quarterback decisions, and most others for that matter. Last thing he can afford is to put his trust in this front office’s ability to evaluate talent.
4. Where’s the baseball guy?
Paul DePodesta, who was played by Jonah Hill in “Moneyball,” avoids the spotlight for the most part, and after last season’s debacle, who can blame him? But the former Oakland A’s executive and analytics guru remains a front-office mainstay even if nobody knows quite what he does as chief strategy officer. Can see him being the first one sacrificed if a purge occurs after another grim season.
5. Deshaun Watson has a good agent.
The former Clemson quarterback stressed again Friday he was just joking when he talked about wanting the Dallas Cowboys to trade up and draft him, sparing him the Cleveland experience. This was no doubt the work of his agent, who sees no good reason – and millions of bad ones – to take the current owners of the No. 1 overall pick out of the mix.