Right now, the Cleveland Browns have a 2-10 record and are in sole possession of the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NFL draft. And even if they do amass wins—to the point where they win out and finish the season at 6-10—they are still likely to have a pick in the top half of the draft's first round next year.
Since 1999, the Browns have been searching for the long-term answer at the quarterback position. And given that they will have a high pick—if not the No. 1 pick—in the upcoming draft, it makes sense to link the team to any of the year's top quarterback prospects.
But the Browns don't need to go that route this year. Round 1 can be reserved for another position, be it a pass-rusher, a wideout or a dynamic running back. Cleveland's quarterback situation for 2016 doesn't look to be a bad one, and a serviceable passer on a team with more receiving weapons, a better run game and an improved defense could be all it takes for the Browns to turn a much-needed corner.
As it stands now, the Browns will have four quarterbacks on their 2016 roster—Josh McCown, Johnny Manziel, Austin Davis and Connor Shaw. All four are under contract through the 2016 season, with McCown, Manziel and Davis set to be unrestricted free agents in 2018 and Shaw a restricted free agent in 2017.
That's not to say all four will necessarily remain on the team come the offseason, especially if the Browns make changes to their coaching staff or front office. And there is the constant rumbling of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wanting to make Manziel his own to consider. But even if Manziel moves on, that leaves the Browns with three other quarterbacks, all of whom could be in play to serve as starter in 2016.
We saw this year that the quarterback position is no longer the Browns' biggest problem. McCown completed 63.7 percent of his passes for 2,109 yards, and he threw 12 touchdowns to four interceptions before suffering a season-ending collarbone injury. Manziel is set to serve as the team's starter for the final four games of the season and so far has appeared to be a much-improved quarterback on the field.
Davis, who started last week and did struggle, is in the good graces of the current coaching staff; should they not be fired, Davis' job could be safe. Shaw, meanwhile, has spent his season on injured reserve, but he could be developed into a workable backup if starting is not in the cards for him in the immediate future. And no matter who the Browns see fit to groom into a future starter, McCown's 2015 performance does present a strong argument for him remaining atop the depth chart for at least one more year.
It wasn't the quarterback position that caused the Browns to win just two games to this point. In fact, they lost games in spite of often good or great quarterback play, particularly by McCown. The two-win season instead points to so many other areas of Cleveland's roster that require improvement, and using its Round 1 pick on one of those would be better for the team in both the short and long term.
This doesn't preclude the Browns from selecting a quarterback at some point in the draft, especially if two of their current four move on or are released in the offseason. It can instead be someone to serve as No. 3 on the depth chart or be a practice squad passer rather than someone expected to be pressed into duty immediately.
For once, quarterback is not the Browns' biggest weakness, nor their biggest need. Cleveland should look at other positions in Round 1 of the draft in 2016 and roll with the quarterbacks they currently have for the immediate future.