Power Ranking Starting QBs Part 2

Part two of the ranking the starting QBs in the NFL (20-10). Part one is available here
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20. Eli Manning (New York Giants)

Playing on a team that just couldn’t get anything going in the ground game and with an underperforming defence put a lot of pressure squarely on Eli Manning and he did not cope well. Manning lead the league in INTs and the team struggled winning only one of their first seven games despite having a good set of receivers in Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Rubin Randle and Tight End Brandon Myers. With new offensive coordinator and Aaron Rodger’s former QB coach in Green Bay may lead to a turnaround but I would sceptical without any real upgrades in the run game.

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19. Sam Bradford (St. Louis Rams)

Sam Bradford played on some terrible Rams teams (particularly their offensive line) during his first couple of years in the league and really struggled because of it but last year with the pieces in place from the Robert Griffin III trade, Bradford started to look like the Franchise QB that he was drafted to be. Then his reoccurring injury problems which have bother him since his days in Oklahoma remerged and he missed the last couple of games. With one of the best tackle pairings in Chris Long and Jake Matthews for protection and explosive playmaker Tavon Austin set to be more involved this year, it could be the year it all comes together for Bradford.

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18. Alex Smith (Kansas City Chiefs)

One of the driving forces behind Kansas City’s turnaround last season, Smith has finally started to live up to his potential and show why he was the number one pick all the ways back in 2005. Smith doesn’t have a cannon of an arm but is quietly effective with sharp, accurate passes. Although he lacks receivers behind Dwayne Bowe he does have one the best backs in the league in the running and passing game in Jamaal Charles.

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17. Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers)

Carolina might have finally gotten back into the back into the playoffs last year but it was as more to do with Luke Kulechy and their dominant defence than Cam Newton. Newton was one of the pioneers of the Read-Option in the NFL and has paid the price yet but don’t be surprised if he misses time this year due to injury. With his favourite targets Steve Smith and Brandon LeFell and their deep threat Ted Ginn jr. gone Newton will have to rely heavily on rookie Kevin Benjamin and their run game if they hope to return to playoffs in a divison with powerhouse New Orleans and resurgent Atlanta and Tampa.

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16. Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens)

Another man with a big contract who didn’t look like he was worth it last year with consistency issues having a down year after his Superbowl heroics the year before. With veteran receiver Steve Smith coming in from Carolina and with Tight End Denis Pitta returning after missing all of last year due to injury, Flacco should improve this season and this will be needed with running back Ray Rice’s suspension. The Ravens are looking to return to the playoffs after missing and only breaking even last season.

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15. Colin Kaepernick (San Francisco 49ers)

Kaepernick is a man with a brand new contract to the tune of $126 million and to be completely honest I don’t think he is worth it. Kaepernick does have a unique combination of size, arm strength and athleticism and I understand that the 49ers want him locked up long-term but he is not as complete a passer as many would lead you to believe and although his athleticism can bring you big plays, he leads with his shoulder too much and this is only going to lead to injuries down the line. I only have him this high because of his potential and because I feel Jim Harbaugh might be able to work some magic with him.

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14. Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions)

A strong-armed QB who can make every throw and is a perfect fit for the spread offence.  Stafford is an intriguing prospect who has yet to fully live up to his billing as the first pick in the 2007 NFL draft but has shown flash such as leading the Lions to the playoffs for the first time since Barry Sanders retired in 2011. Stafford has struggled in recent years though with interceptions and crumbling under pressure particularly last year when they had their division in their control with four weeks to go being a game clear of Chicago and Green Bay who were both missing their starting QBs in Jay Cutler and Aaron Rodgers, only to go and lose two games and miss the playoffs. The skys the limit this for Stafford and Detroit with an exciting offence with weapons such as Calvin “Megatron” Johnson, Reggie Bush and Golden Tate.

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13. Andy Dalton (Cincinnati Bengals)

Andy Dalton was quite good last season without being spectacular. Dalton threw for 33 TDs but also threw for 14 INTs and lead the Bengals to the playoffs for the third year in a row. Yet despite all his improvement in the regular season, he was still a disappointment in the playoffs as the Bengals lost to the Chargers.  An underrated QB is in the final year of his rookie contract it could be a difficult negotiating process as Dalton will be looking at $20 million a year that the market has set for top QBs while the Bengals may not be so keen with his lack of success in the playoffs.

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12. Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks)

A third round pick out of Wisconsin who fell mainly due to concerns about his height even to the point where Jacksonville who had Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne felt they were better off picking a punter over him. Wilson then beat out big free agent signing Matt Flynn as the starter and became the perfect complement to Seattle’s dominant rushing attack. Somewhat overrated after last years Superbowl win he still remains one of the most promising young QBs in the game and has almost single handily removed the stigma of small QBs (along with Drew Brees).

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11. Nick Foles (Philadelphia Eagles)
After a concussion in a game against Dallas where he threw for only 79 yards he returned against the Raiders and tied the NFL record with seven passing TDs and had a perfect passer rating. Foles went onto excel in Chip Kelly’s system throwing 29 TDs to only 2 INTs and lead the league in passer rating as he brought the Eagles to the playoffs. Although it was with a lot of help from LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson.

Final 10 QBs are coming next week

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Power ranking starting QBs Part 1

This is the first of a three part series of ranking NFL starting QBs. All rankings are objectively done by me and reflect my opinion and if you disagree leave your thoughts in the comment section below. First up is 32-21, with 20-11 next week and the final 10 the week after.

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32. Tom Savage/Ryan Fitzpatrick (Houston Texans)

I think it’s a toss-up between these two as to who starts but I think Fitzpatrick wins the job in training camp but is replaced after a couple of games by Savage, Fitzpatrick has a habit of throwing back breaking interceptions at crucial times and a QB guru like Bill O’Brien might be able to fix this but I think this cause him to benched in favour of the raw Savage but O’Brien precedent with this, starting True Freshman Christian Hattenberg last year at Penn State.  With a combination of these two throwing to him it is easy to see why Andre Johnson wants out of Houston.

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31. Geno Smith (New York Jets)

At times last year Smith looked like the second coming of “Broadway” Joe Namath, both in good ways and bad. Showing early promise Smith regressed as the season went on including having a game with a single figure passer rating but showed plenty of potential. The logical thing for the Jets to do this year would be to declare him to be “their man” and let him keep improving but instead they signed the troublesome Michael Vick who will have the fans calling for Smith’s head the second he has a bad game. It’s not like the Jets have signed a famous scrambling QB to be their backup behind their supposed future franchise QB.

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30. EJ Manuel (Buffalo Bills)

The first QB taken in last year’s draft hasn’t lived up to those expectations yet but is generally regarded as a bit of a project so it is not that big of a surprise. Expect a marked improvement from him this year though with an upgraded receiving in Mike Williams and fellow first rounder Sammy Watkins. The Bills clearly believe he is the future with they gave in order to try and end the NFL’s longest playoff drought and get into the playoffs but they may end up regret trading away a potential top 10 pick if the season is a disaster and Manuel ends up not being the long term solution.

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29. Chad Henne (Jacksonville Jaguars)

A solid, veteran presence that you’d prefer to have as a backup rather than as your starter. This is his 3rd year down in Jacksonville so he’ll know the system like the back of his hand. I believe he’ll start this year ahead of Blake Bortles to let him adjust to the NFL and he may surprise some with plenty of weapons with Ace Sanders, Allen Robinson and Marquise Lee. This team will surprise some with their strong defence and don’t be surprised if they finish ahead of Tennessee and Houston in their division.

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28. Matt Schaub (Oakland Raiders)

Overrated before last year and underrated after last season, Matt Schaub is a tough one to predict as he could show some of that Probowl form from two years ago but it is tough to imagine with a receiving corps of James Jones and Greg Little. Don’t expect Schaub to stink up the joint as badly as he did last year in Houston especially with Derek Carr waiting in the wings.

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27. Brian Hoyer (Cleveland Browns)

Came into last year as the Browns 3rd string QB but got his opportunity after Brandon Weeden was benched two games into the season and managed to lead the Browns to comeback victory over the Vikings and a win over division winner Cincinnati Bengals. He got off to a good start against the Bills before tearing his ACL. Expected to start this year ahead of Johnny Manziel, Hoyer could surprise people despite missing star wide out Josh Gordon.

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26. Matt Cassel (Minnesota Vikings)

An undrafted free agent who never played in college, backing up Carson Palmer at USC Cassel has pretty much been a starter ever since Tom Brady broke his leg back in 2008. Never quite a star Cassel is a capable starter who can be an elite backup and had a passer rating of 81.6 in a relief role. He will also be an invaluable mentor for Teddy Bridgewater as he adjusts to the NFL.

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25. Carson Palmer (Arizona Cardinals)

Palmer is a tough one to place, struggled a bit at the start and threw quite a few interceptions but as he got to know the system he improved and we saw him really connect with receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. With a second year in Bruce Arian’s scheme which suits him to a tee Palmer could start to return to the level he was at before his retirement.

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24. Josh McCown (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

McCown came into last season as Jay Cutler’s backup in Chicago and excelled when given the opportunity after Jay Cutler got injured. McCown took full advantage of this chance, recording a passer rating of 109 and got rewarded with a new contract and reunion with former head coach Lovie Smith in Tampa. I don’t expect that McCown to replicate the same numbers he had in Chicago with a new playbook to learn although there is plenty of targets in big receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans. HC Lovie Smith has proclaimed him starter despite Mike Glennon playing very well as a rookie, throwing 18 TDs to only 8 INTs, this is to let him mentor Glennon with Glennon being being their long term plan at QB.

NFL: Preseason-Chicago Bears at Tennessee Titans

23. Jake Locker (Tennessee Titans)

The Titan’s recently turned down the fifth year option on Locker’s rookie contract so this might be his last year in Tennessee but if it is it will be because of injury rather than being a bust. Locker is a talented QB who can use his athleticism to escape the rush when needed and has the ability to improve this year under QB guru Ken Whisenhunt who helped to resurrect the career of Phillip Rivers.

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22. Ryan Tannehill (Miami Dolphins)

Tannehill may have been overshadowed by the other QBs in his class but he has quietly become a competent starter in this league with a +8 TD-INT this season and could potentially become a star in a couple of years. Tannehill has an overpaid but strong trio of receivers in Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and Jarvis Landry and got a nice check down option in Knowshon Moreno as Miami looks to improve on last year’s 8-8 season.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Washington Redskins

21. Robert Griffin III (Washington Redskins)

Some might feel this is a bit harsh on Griffin after an electrifying rookie season but I just didn’t see enough from him last year to justify a spot higher than this on the list. He did suffer from a fall out with the Shanahan’s but he still seemed to regress a bit last season showing how poor his mechanics and decision making skills were after he was no longer a running threat. With the knee brace and the Shanahan’s gone and a new best friend in Desean Jackson, Griffin could be primed for a big year and new HC Jay Gruden has stated he wants to keep him from running too much to avoid a reoccurrence of the knee injury.

QBs 20-11 coming next week

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Braxton Miller: Polarising prospect for NFL

Braxton Miller had a decision to make this year as the season ended down in Florida with a loss in the Orange Bowl to Clemson and he made the right one. He decided to turn down the allure of the NFL to return to Columbus for his senior season. It was a tough decision with the prospect of a professional contract but he did the right thing in returning so as to become a better passer. As we all know Braxton Miller possess unique athleticism but too often he relies on this to get himself out of tricky situations instead of going through his progressions. Miller does use this unique athleticism to help late in games to break off big runs when the defence goes into prevent mode and this has helped become the nations leader in fourth quarter comebacks. Even if he does leave the pocket he needs to do a better job of keeping his head up and trying to pass as often undisciplined Cornerbacks will the QB and try and land a big hit on the QB rather than do their job and stick with the receiver. Miller needs to keep his head up and watch for the busted coverage when this happens and try and make the right play and hit his open receiver. Instead too often Miller puts too much faith in his athleticism and keeps the ball and ends up taking the big hit.

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Miller uses his Athleticism to escape the rush against Clemson in the Orange bowl

If Miller had gone to the NFL he wouldn’t have been the first. The NFL has seen other QBs of a similar mould, namely Michael Vick and Robert Griffin III. Alas, history shows us that when you get to the NFL that athleticism won’t cover up flawed mechanics forever, just ask Tim Tebow. There is also the fact that Miller might be an elite college athlete but it is a hell of a big step up to the NFL and he won’t be playing against some true freshman Cornerback who doesn’t know exactly where he is supposed to be on a play, instead he will be playing against Safeties and Cornerbacks who read Quarterback’s eyes for a living and know exactly where to be to make the big play. Another issues would be the shots he’ll take, he showed even this year in the Orange Bowl that his struggled an injured shoulder in the Orange Bowl against Clemson looking battered towards the end. At the next level the hits would get bigger when you’re playing against people like JJ Watt and Von Miller on a regular basis. Robert Griffin III struggled last year this year after an electrifying rookie season due to a knee injury picked up during last year’s playoffs and the knee brace he had to wear of all this year. The contrast between the two seasons was startling and it showed that when you didn’t have to worry him breaking off 79yd TD runs he was a lot easier to defend against.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Washington Redskins

Robert Griffin III lacked the explosive athleticism of his rookie season while wearing the knee on his right knee last season

This would have been a problem that Miller would have faced at some point as he would have been bound to face at some point during his first year or two when he picked up a knock and had to stand in the pocket and pass with the threat of a long run or play action. With him being injured it makes the defence’s job a lot easier as without his running threat the end would be able to just rush him and not have to worry about containment. Now with an extra year in Columbus to develop his passing he should as a more complete passer better suited for the NFL.

Another problem he could face when he goes into the NFL draft is the fact that as an Urban Meyer product he could be view as simply as a system QB after fellow Meyer QBs Alex Smith and Tim Tebow failed to live up to expectations.

If he had left the Buckeyes it would be have been understandable as well as with how much he had at stake. Let say Miller tears his ACL in the first game of the season and loses all the athleticism he once had then he has probably lost millions of dollars in the blink of an eye. It is this scary scenario which has led many underclassmen who could do with another year of development to declare early for the NFL. It’s an understandable as a “Boobie Miles” moment could ended their lifelong dream in a matter of seconds.

Overall I feel Braxton Miller will be better served with the extra year in Columbus to become a more refined and complete passer.

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How not to find your franchise QB with special guests, the Cleveland Browns

Here are some useful tips for your franchise if it is looking at not having a Franchise QB

1 Do not use a high pick on QB
The NFL tries spread the talent around with draft being in reverse order to the standings and with QB the most important position to win games with it stands to reason that with a high pick a QB if available and good value that is if your not the Browns. The Browns have had two seasons in the past 14 years where they had a winning record so that means 12 high draft picks. They have had 12 picks in top 15 picks and do you know how many times they users on a QB? Once, all the way back in 1999 on Tim Couch for him to turn into a franchise QB bit of a bust. With so many other worse QBs gone since Couch actually looks good, leading the Browns to their only playoff appearance since ’99. The following are QBs the Browns could have had but passed over, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Donovan McNabb, Ben Roethlisberger, Jay Cutler, Russell Wilson, Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton, Colin Kaepernick, Nick Foles and Ryan Tannehill. I mean it’d be something if there were a three or four on the list but there is 11 and some made no sense, like who thought Spurgeon Wynn would be better than Tom Brady ? Moral of the story if you have a high pick and a good QB is available, take him.

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Tim Couch after being drafted way in 1999

2 Trade into late first round to pick a QB
The reasoning here is that if they weren’t chosen by then there must be a flaw in their game which makes them perfect for the Browns. While it is way too early to grade the Browns pick of Johnny Manziel at #22 this year the Browns have a bit of a track record there. Brady Quinn and Brandon Weeden, two of the biggest first round busts ever. When JaMarcus Russell was picked ahead of Brady Quinn the writing should have been on the wall but no the Browns just had to take a chance on him and got completely burnt. Beaten out by Derek Anderson, Quinn never even looked close to being a franchise QB. He was traded to the Broncos for RB Peyton Hillis and a sixth round pick which ended up being a really good deal for the Browns and last saw extensive playing time with a Chiefs team that went 2-14, yep that’s where Brady Quinn will lead your team if you let him start. Brandon Weeden pick was even stranger considering he would have been available in the second round and also because he was 27. Yeah, the Browns did indeed reach for a 27 year old rookie who did not fit their scheme and what they were trying to do who already failed as a pro baseball player. Not as bad as Quinn but way more of a heartbreaker. There is know QB out there not Jay Cutler, not Andy Dalton or even Tony Romo who knows how to throw a game ending interception like Brandon Weeden, that’s of course if it’s not several interceptions. Weeden had some talent and a cannon of an arm but had chronic decisions making and lack and kind of touch on the ball at all, to the point where we left with the sidearm pass which is perhaps second only to the Butt-Fumble as the worst decision by a QB ever.

3 Draft a player who does not fit your scheme
Right from the off Tim Couch was going to be a disadvantage as a spread QB in a traditional scheme with no line and no one to pass it to. Couch had played in a spread in college and the Browns knew that and could have made his life a hell of a lit easier if they picked a coach that ran a scheme similar rather than force a scheme that didn’t suit him on him. With a patched up line in front of him Couch struggled with injuries and fumbles during his stay in Cleveland. Finally after 5 years Butch Davis somehow thought Kelly Holcomb was better and Tim Couch has played since. You would have thought the Browns would have learned from this but no they did it again when they put a square peg in a round hole by picking Brandon Weeden to play in Pat Shurmer West Coast Offense and then to make matters worse they had start him as rookie because they couldn’t afford to redshirt at 28 despite the fact that Colt McCoy knew the system and was a better fit. Weeden played in vertical offense in college which was built around stud receiver Justin Blackgammon and is pretty much the antithesis of the West Coast. Understandably Weeden struggled from the start throwing 4 INTs in the season opener against Philly but then again Michael Vick equaled it. It didn’t get much better his rookie year finishing with 13 TDs and 17 INTs. His second year he should have excelled in Norv Turners Air Coryell scheme but still struggled throwing 8 TDs and 8 INTs before benched for Brian Hoyer only to start again after injuries.

4 Bring a free agent ” veteran” who is past his best or has never been at least a decent starter to be your “man”
With the exception of Brian Hoyer and possibly Derek Anderson, this has never ended well for the Browns. Neither had real playing time with Anderson a rookie who had just been cut by the Ravens and Hoyer Tom Brady’s backup in NE before making one start in Arizona. Even then it is a small sample size with Hoyer and Anderson flamed out in his second and third seasons and left Cleveland bitterly claiming “the fans don’t deserve a winner”. Some of the others just did not work like Jake Delhomme, Seneca Wallace, Ty Detmer and Trent Difler. Delhomme was some what understandable after leading the Panthers to a Superbowl 6 years previously and it was a nice idea to have him as a mentor for Colt McCoy but he had shown serious signs of regression in his final season in Carolina and shouldn’t have been appointed starter. In all seriousness who genuinely thought that Seneca Wallace could be a starter in the NFL? He was just not good enough for the NFL and was showed up when he played. Both were brought in by the spoofer that is Mike Holmgren but more on him later. Ty Detmer was a record breaking QB at BYU winning the Heismann in 1990 but was nothing more than a journeyman in the NFL and was Brett Favre backup in Green Bay. The original starting QB of the “new” he last all of one game before Tim Couch took over. Detmer played the season finale after Couch picked up a knock but never played again for the Browns after missing all of the 2001 season through injury and moved onto Detroit the following season. Difler was brought in to play and help mentor rookie Charlie Fyre but a disagreement with Offensive Coordinator Maurice Carthon left him wanting out almost immediately. This is the Browns after all so nothing goes smoothly. If he isn’t a proven player with plenty of mileage left in the tank, he isn’t worth bringing in as a stated or a backup.

Jake Delhomme never reached the same heights in Cleveland as he did with the Panthers and was largely a disappointment

5 Rely on a late round (3rd or later) pick to turn into a starter in less than two year
The reason is a team draft a QB in the later rounds is to develop him into a potential Franchise player over time, that is of course unless you are the Browns. Four times the Browns have taken QBs in the third or later as development project only to start them within two years which defeats the entire purpose. All four (Spurgeon Wynn, Luke McCown, Charlie Fyre and Colt McCoy). I get maybe three of these (not sure about McCown) but there is no way in he’ll do I agree with the Spergon Wynn pick. I mean what scout in the Browns front office looked Spergon Wynn up and down and say they saw a potential starter in the NFL? He played at a lower level, was smaller and threw less touchdowns in college than Brady and you want to draft him, I mean what were you thinking? Even if you thought Brady wouldn’t be a starter he still looked like a better backup. Out of the other three I feel Fyre could have become an above average starter but I feel the best of the three would have been former Longhorn Colt McCoy who could have developed into an Andy Dalton kind of QB if given the right supporting cast and better coaching. Instead like all the others he was rushed into action and this hampered his development as a result.

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“Wynn” was something Spergon Wynn never did with the Browns going 0-8 in games
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It’s a case of what might have been with Colt McCoy

6 Do not have a good front office and talent evaluators
Up until the Browns hired Phil Savage in 2005 they lack any kind of decent decision making in their front office with poor pick after poor pick in the draft leading to years of losing. Even when they did hire Savage he was great but got some good players like Joe Thomas, D’Qwell Jackson, Lawrence Vickers, Ahtyba Rubin and Braylon Edwards but he also missed completely with others like Kamerion Wimberly, Brady Quinn and trading away the Browns 1st,2nd,3rd and 5th round picks in 2008. I
After Savage it got slightly better though as Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert. They still missed with QBs though drafting Colt McCoy and Brandon Weeden, overall this position was an anomaly with Probowlers such Joe Haden, TJ Ward and Josh Gordon coming from Heckert drafts. He also had a nice trade down with Atlanta from 6th to 27th in the 2011 NFL Draft and getting a 2nd and 4th round pick in 2011 and a 1st and 4th in 2012. Unfortunately he only picked one current Browns player with those picks in Phil Taylor, the rest were the ever dropping Greg Little, Bust Brandon Weeden and fullback Owen Marecic. The other went in the unnecessary trade from 4th to 3rd to pick Trent Richardson which was one of the reasons Jimmy Haslam got rid of him and the overated Mike Holmgren. Holmgren, who got won a Superbowl on the back of MVP Brett Favre and got to another with Shaun Alexander in Seattle did nothing in Cleveland to prove that he won those on but instead showed that just happened to have some of the gifted players of the late 90’s/early 00’s playing for him.

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Mike Holmgren who used Brett Favre’s success to get the job in Cleveland and set the Browns back years with his choice of QBs

To recap if your franchise is not looking for a franchise QB then all it needs is the dreadful cocktail of a clueless front office bringing in old, overpaid veterans along with young development projects who don’t fit the scheme and then just start the veteran and switch to the rookie half way through and you’ll be well on your. Just as long as you don’t use that high pick on a once in a generation player like Andrew Luck like those sellouts the Colts did, not hardcore multiyear tankers like the Browns.

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