Should Cleveland pick Mitch Trubisky number one in this year’s NFL draft?

Cleveland_Browns_Draft_Party_500

By Erik Drost (Cleveland Browns Draft Party) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Remember when the 2017 quarterback class was regarded as one of the weakest in years, possibly not even generating a first round pick? Yeah, well that way of thinking obviously ignored conventional wisdom regarding drafting quarterbacks for the NFL – always expect a team to draft one in the first round. Like someone coming off a strict diet trying to ignore the fresh, hot doughnuts with coffee, the quarterback-starved teams can’t help but find a quarterback worthy of drafting in the first round, and the Cleveland Browns definitely qualify as quarterback-starved.

Was it really a surprise, then, when it was reported that Cleveland entertained thoughts of taking quarterback Mitch Trubisky as their number one selection, even though most mock draft boards pointed to Myles Garrett occupying that spot? No, but we all know Cleveland’s past track record of drafting quarterbacks…not good, so the question remains, should Cleveland seriously consider choosing a quarterback number one in this year’s draft?

Let’s review the criteria NFL scouts use for potential first round quarterbacks.

  • Rocket arm that can make all the throws with a tight spiral, preferably from the pocket.
  • Precise footwork.
  • A brain capable of digesting the overly complicated 500 page playbook and microsecond coverage reads.
  • Lives only for football.

Does Mitch Trubisky possess all of the above traits?

Well, I am not sure about his love for football, but here are a few things that show up watching his game film. He can make all the required throws. His arm is a bit stronger than Deshaun Watson’s, and while no one will say his running ability is equal to Watson’s, Trubisky isn’t exactly a statue in the pocket, either. Here are some examples of NFL-caliber throws notated by time. The embedded video(s) are courtesy of nfldraftbreakdown.com.

North Carolina vs Duke

0:27-0:34 – Trubisky rolls to his left, throws across his body from the NC 36 yard line, and completes the pass to the receiver at the Duke 40. Right-handed quarterbacks usually don’t make this throw look this easy.

1:17-1:23 – He has all the time in the world to make this throw, but that fact does not take away from the arm strength on display as he guns the ball to a receiver close the sideline in tight coverage. Trubisky was standing on his 29 yard line, and the ball was caught at the Duke 40.

1:47-1:55 – This pass fell incomplete as the defender was able to knock the ball out of the receiver’s hands; however, the throw was accurate and an example of a pass that NFL quarterbacks must throw. Trubisky passes another test here (no pun intended).

3:43-3:49 – Trubisky starts off looking to his left and before the pass rusher completely collapses the pocket, he delivers the ball down the middle of the field for the first down.

No need to continue on with more examples of Trubisky’s arm talent. He can make the required throws as shown by the above game film evidence, so why was he not a consensus number one pick, then? Well, like all players, he has a few weaknesses.

His accuracy throwing the deep ball isn’t as good as one would expect. (I should mention that he did throw some very good long balls in the Stanford game) Speaking of the Stanford game, he threw two interceptions where the coverage must have fooled him, because the intended receivers were not open, and this is probably what most NFL scouts would say is his main weakness: he only started 13 college games.

Here is the video of the Stanford game.

2:18-2:30 – The defender reads where the ball is going and jumps the route for the interception. From the offensive team’s point of view, this looks like a “half-field” read, where Trubisky locks onto one side of the field, which was a disaster since no one was open on that side of the field.

5:04-5:11 – Trubisky tries to get the ball to the back running a wheel route(?). It’s hard to really figure out why this ball was thrown, because the defender easily had this route covered. Perhaps, we can chalk this up to Trubisky’s lack of experience, or maybe this was just one of those bad plays that can happen to any quarterback regardless of experience.

Enough already, what should Cleveland do, right?

I have to admit that my initial reaction to Cleveland possibly picking a quarterback number one who was not named Deshaun Watson was, “Same old Cleveland. They will never win.” However, after watching game footage of Trubisky as he progressed through the season, it became clear that he has NFL talent, and the same things that cause concern for college quarterbacks these days (e.g. “half-field” reads, shotgun snaps, quick throws, etc.) were not any more visible for Trubisky than the other quarterbacks in this draft.

Final Verdict: Cleveland may actually know what they are doing.  If selected first, Trubisky shouldn’t perform worse than Jared Goff;  however, the safer pick is probably Myles Garrett or one of the other defensive lineman (Solomon Thomas).

What do you guys think?

(Please check out Mike Herndon’s mock draft for his thoughts on not only who the Browns will take in the first round, but the other teams as well.)



Categories: NFL

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