Not long after the 2015 NFL Draft started on Thursday night, two incredibly murky quarterback situations were granted at least partial clarity. Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota went No. 1 and No. 2 overall, respectively, and their new teams are hoping that their futures are set at quarterback for the foreseeable future.
However, while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tennessee Titans managed to back into two potential franchise players at the game’s most important positions, the draft did little to clarify things for several other teams with significant issues at QB. Whether by addition or by doing nothing whatsoever, the Cleveland Browns, New York Jets and Buffalo Bills are going to have quarterback competitions on their hands that seem likely to last into the regular season or longer.
In Cleveland, less than a year ago, the Browns hoped that they had found their own solution to the great quarterbacking problem when they traded back into the first round to draft former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. However, with all the concern surrounding Manziel’s commitment level to football, a less-than-spectacular stint as the Browns starter in 2014 and his subsequent entry into a rehab facility for alcohol abuse, the Cleveland QB situation is as far from settled (if not further) than it ever was.
The hope for the Browns is that the signing of veteran Josh McCown will at least bring some semblance of stability to the quarterbacks’ meeting room. And he’ll certainly provide a level-headed presence; however, anyone assuming he’ll be a 16-game starter capable of managing expectations and holding down the fort until a better option presents itself need only to look at McCown’s production in Tampa Bay last season.
It was rumored that the Browns would be interested in trading up to No. 2 to get Mariota, but with Tennessee’s astronomical asking price it was clear that wouldn’t be a realistic option early in the night. However, it was at least partially surprising that the Browns didn’t elect to take a quarterback from the second tier as guys like Brett Hundley slid all the way back into the fifth round.
Meanwhile, Buffalo’s decision not to address the position whatsoever seemed equally perplexing given that they’re nowhere near sold on E.J. Manuel’s ability to be a productive player on a team that many assume is a quarterback away from being able to compete with the likes of the New England Patriots in the AFC East. Buffalo wasn’t fortunate enough to have a pick in the first round and didn’t seem to think there was a player outside of Winston and Mariota worth packaging themselves back into a Thursday night pick, but like Cleveland that shouldn’t have necessarily precluded them from using a late-round selection on a developmental option.
On the other hand, the Jets did elect to take a flyer on a mid-round pick at quarterback after missing out on Mariota with the No. 6 pick, and that may eventually pay off for them with Geno Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick leaving plenty to be desired. Bryce Petty has the size and arm skill to excite, but because of the offense he played in at Baylor he also has a significant learning curve to deal with.
And that’s the catch-22 of it all. Because while not taking a quarterback like the Browns and Bills leads you to believe they’re either happy with what they have or that they’re willing to live with bad for another year, taking one that you don’t realistically expect to contribute for a couple years can also be irritating to the fan base.
Realistically, what the decisions of Cleveland and Buffalo say about the quarterbacks in the Class of 2015 is that they didn’t have confidence in anybody beyond the top two QBs on the board ever being NFL starters. What the decision of Mike Maccagnan and the Jets says is that they don’t agree.
And that’s one of the beauties of the NFL Draft–that there isn’t any singular way to approach it. However, that doesn’t change the fact that the Jets, Bills and Browns still have quarterback situations that are confusing as hell.