There are no sure things when it comes to drafting a quarterback.
The numbers prove it, even when you're drafting first, as the Cleveland Browns will do in April.
Consider this: quarterbacks have gone first overall seven times in the last 11 drafts. Only one of them could be considered a great player, i.e., Cam Newton, who was the league MVP two seasons ago as he led his Carolina Panthers to Super Bowl 50.
The others? Matthew Stafford has put up 35,000 yards in nine years, which is pretty incredible, but he has yet to win a playoff game.
Sam Bradford? Always injured.
Andrew Luck? Had the skills to be great, but who knows if and when he'll play again.
Jameis Winston? We'll see.
JaMarcus Russell? Bust. The Raiders would have been far better off taking a left tackle out of Wisconsin by the name of Joe Thomas, who went two picks later to a team you know and love.
The point is, for all the pressure to take the "it guy" with the number one pick, it seldom gets you to the promised land.
Look at last season's Final Four: Patriots-Jaguars and Eagles-Vikings. The only quarterback taken in the first round? Blake Bortles, and he's the worst of the bunch.
Nick Foles, still celebrating his Super Bowl win, was drafted in the third round. Case Keenum, undrafted. And of course, the ultimate and now historical example: Tom Brady, Round 6, 199th overall.
Peyton Manning was the top pick in the draft -- 20 years ago, and more than lived up to the billing. But he'd have more than two rings if Brady, the 6th rounder, hadn't been in the way so many times.
You need a franchise quarterback to go anywhere in the NFL. That is a sure thing. The last 15 AFC Championship games have included Brady, Manning and/or Roethlisberger. That's right, the last 15.
Now the Browns are on the clock, picking first for the fourth time since 1999.
Only one time in those previous three did they take a QB first -- Tim Couch in '99 -- whose body and career were immediately destroyed by a team that couldn't protect him.
The Browns don't have that problem now. Contrary to some misconceptions, they have one of the most expensive and talented offensive lines in football. The problem is, they've been blocking for quarterbacks like Kizer and Kessler who can't avoid sacks.
Go get 'em the right guy. Odds are it won't be a big free agent. Why would they come here?
It'll be at the top of the draft. The Browns have been defying NFL odds for years with their lack of success.
Why not stun the world and defy 'em again, this time by doing what so few other teams have done in the past. And that's get it right.
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