CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The 2017 season will be my 12th covering the Browns, and there is a pretty good chance I'll be covering the 19th starting quarterback in that span.
The team has had 26 since returning to the league in 1999. I've covered 18 of them. So as badly as the organization wants to finally get this right, and as desperate as Browns fans are to finally have a franchise QB, trust me -- I feel, and have experienced, your pain.
There's no blueprint to success in the NFL, even at quarterback.
Just the other day I was at the Pro Football Hall of Fame talking with members of the HOF Class of 2017, including Terrell Davis (sixth-round pick) and Jason Taylor (third-round pick). When I asked these guys about how far they've come after being overlooked by so many, Taylor brought up the most glaring example of all, a story that's been told many times: Tom Brady, the sixth-round pick.
So, even if the Browns use one of their first-round picks on a quarterback in April, there's no guarantee that he'll be the guy (but the chances are certainly greater that he will be).
Mel Kiper, ESPN's Draft Guru, released his third Mock Draft Wednesday, suggesting the Browns might take DE Myles Garrett with the No. 1 overall pick. Kiper said the Browns might take QB Mitchell Trubisky at No. 12.
Of course, Kiper's track record in predicting Browns first-rounders isn't exactly stellar. Of their 10 first-round picks in the past seven years, Kiper has correctly predicted only one: Danny Shelton. Then again, it's not his fault they traded away the Julio Jones pick.
But Kiper isn't alone in his thinking. Momentum is building with the "Browns take former Mentor star" story line. Jason La Canfora of CBS said he also believes the Browns are very high on Trubisky (he's been saying this for months, actually) and could see them taking him high in the draft, if they don't swing a deal for a veteran (Jimmy Garoppolo?) before then.
That brings me to my take.
Garrett has got to be the call at No. 1, but the Browns need to do whatever they have to do to land a quarterback with that other first-round pick. If that means packing the 12th pick with later-round picks to move up higher in round one, make it happen. They dished out more than $125 million on three offensive linemen a couple of weeks ago. They're serious about improving this offense.
Now they need the right guy to run it.
Fans are very likely going to see the 27th starting quarterback in 19 seasons next fall. The Browns are in perfect position to make sure there won't be a 28th anytime soon. They just need to finally, finally make the right call.