Two First-Round QBs for the Cleveland Browns? It Makes More Sense Than You Think

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistApril 23, 2018

Cleveland Browns general manager John Dorsey answers questions about the draft during a news conference at the NFL football team's training camp facility, Thursday, April 19, 2018, in Berea, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Tony Dejak/Associated Press

When the Cleveland Browns do something unorthodox, the natural reaction is to point and laugh. It's not as though the Browns deserve the benefit of the doubt, considering the many draft- and personnel-related mistakes they've made in recent years. 

So we won't hold it against you for letting out a Nelson Muntz-style "Ha ha" in reaction to buzz that Cleveland could use two high draft picks on the quarterback position—chatter that grew legs when The Ringer's Kevin Clark reported last week the organization has considered doing exactly that.

The Dallas Cowboys used the No. 1 overall pick on Troy Aikman and the No. 1 pick in the supplemental draft on Steve Walsh in 1989, but no team has ever committed two first-round picks in one draft to that position. Two quarterbacks have been selected by one team in the same draft only three times this decade, and on all three of those occasions, the second signal-caller was drafted on Day 3.

So yes, taking two quarterbacks early in the draft would be unorthodox and even unprecedented. But the reality is doing so would be logical in this case. In fact, though it would inevitably cause many of us to spontaneously mock the "same old Browns," an argument can be made that Cleveland would be smart to use its Nos. 1 and 4 overall selections on quarterbacks.

Consider the scenarios at play:

Worst-case scenario if Browns draft two quarterbacks in Round 1: Both players fail, and Cleveland still doesn't have a franchise quarterback.

Worst-case scenario if Browns draft one quarterback and one other player in Round 1: Both players fail, and Cleveland still doesn't have a franchise quarterback.

Middle-case scenario if Browns draft two quarterbacks in Round 1: One quarterback succeeds, and the other fails. Cleveland has a franchise quarterback.

Middle-case scenario if Browns draft one quarterback and one other player in Round 1: The quarterback fails, and the other player succeeds. Cleveland still doesn't have a franchise quarterback.

Best-case scenario if Browns draft two quarterbacks in Round 1: Both quarterbacks succeed, and Cleveland trades one of them for something substantial (possibly even more valuable than a top-four pick). The Browns have a franchise quarterback.

Best-case scenario if Browns draft one quarterback and one other player in Round 1: Both players succeed, and they live happily ever after. Cleveland has a franchise quarterback.

The Browns have been building themselves up on both sides of the ball. Their top priority right now should be to find a franchise quarterback.

If they try and fail to find one in this draft, that'll be all that matters.

If they find one in this draft, that'll be all that matters.

You'll notice that every scenario above works out the same in terms of the end result regarding whether or not a franchise quarterback is born in Cleveland.

The draft is a crapshoot, and if the Browns select a quarterback first overall and then another player fourth overall, there's still a decent chance that other player will become a bust. So why not double the odds of finding that franchise quarterback by taking two of the "Big Four" quarterbacks in this draft?

Sure, if they both bust, they'll have more egg on their face than if just one quarterback had busted. But egg is egg, and it would reside on their face regardless.

It's also important to consider that success by one first-round quarterback doesn't mean the other pick used on a first-round quarterback was a waste. Backup quarterbacks are more valuable than ever—one is the reigning Super Bowl MVP—and there would likely be a strong market for whichever first-round quarterback didn't emerge.

At a minimum, Cleveland would have a cheap backup for four years.

Hue Jackson would probably love to get his hands on a pair of first-round quarterbacks.
Hue Jackson would probably love to get his hands on a pair of first-round quarterbacks.Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Browns have basically acknowledged for years that they don't have a magic sauce when it comes to the draft. They know it's a numbers game and that the key is to roll the dice as often as possible.

They might also realize that if they wind up with a franchise quarterback, nobody will care that they drafted two. And if they don't wind up with a franchise quarterback, they'll remain in the dumpster regardless.

There's nothing to lose at rock bottom, so why shouldn't a zero-win team double down?

The less risky version of this plan would have Cleveland using one of its two first-round picks on a quarterback and then one of its two early-second-round selections on another one. That would still be more extreme than the Washington Redskins' taking Robert Griffin III second overall and then grabbing Kirk Cousins in the fourth round in 2012, and it would give the Browns a shot at a surprise franchise quarterback (Cousins, Russell Wilson, Derek Carr and Dak Prescott have recently inspired hope after being picked outside Round 1).

But as many as six quarterbacks could be drafted in the first round this year, and the best way for Cleveland to maximize its odds of landing a franchise signal-caller is to select two of the top four (Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen and Baker Mayfield).

Could the Browns add both Sam Darnold (5) and Josh Allen in Round 1?
Could the Browns add both Sam Darnold (5) and Josh Allen in Round 1?Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Browns are in a rare situation in which they can afford to do exactly that. They have enough draft capital to commit two first-round picks to one position, especially because it would likely be easy to turn their three second-round selections into another first-rounder if general manager John Dorsey feels inclined. Besides, there are only so many players a team can draft every year, and there simply won't be room for all these Day 1 and Day 2 draft picks a few years down the road.

It wouldn't be easy to provide enough practice reps for two first-round rookie quarterbacks, but there's no reason to rush this anyway. A 16-month competition between, say, Darnold and Allen would make the downtrodden Browns the talk of the football world, with both quarterbacks getting plenty of opportunities over the course of one season and two offseasons. Cleveland would hope to be in a position to name a long-term starter heading into the 2019 season, and then the trade winds could begin to blow regarding the other guy.

That approach, if successful, would allow the Browns to continue to build their roster and develop all their other recent draft picks with little pressure. And Browns games would be a compelling watch regardless of the team's record.

It is far-fetched, and we won't blame you for giggling if it happens, but in this particular case, the league's most unconventional franchise might be on to something.

    

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL for Bleacher Report since 2012.

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