The Cleveland Browns have used a day-two draft selection on a quarterback in each of the past two drafts. Over the course of the past couple of weeks, they have managed to trade both of them away as they ready their quarterback room for whomever they draft with one of their top picks in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
The latest to go was Cody Kessler, a college teammate of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ JuJu Smith-Schuster. Drafted in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft, Kessler was intended to be the Browns’ third-string quarterback that year before injuries completely altered that plan.
Having signed Robert Griffin III earlier in free agency, the former second-overall draft pick entered that year as the team’s starter, but suffered an injury in the opener that left him sidelined for most of the season. Josh McCown took over but suffered a similarly notable injury a week later.
So it was that the third-round rookie became Cleveland’s primary starting quarterback for the majority of that season, having been knocked around himself that year. He suffered two concussions during the season, including one that occurred while playing against the Steelers.
But now he is a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars backing up Blake Bortles, the Browns giving him away for a conditional seventh-round draft pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. His trade was enabled by the recent signing of veteran reserve quarterback Drew Stanton.
The Browns helped to jumpstart the new league year in a flurry of trades, two of which involved the quarterback position. They first sent a third-round pick over to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for quarterback Tyrod Taylor, and once obtaining him flipped their 2017 second-round quarterback, DeShone Kizer, for defensive back Damarious Randall from the Green Bay Packers.
So the AFC North bottom-dwellers head into the 2018 NFL Draft with a quarterback room that features Taylor and Stanton at the top, in addition to 2016 undrafted free agent Kevin Hogan, who spent last time ahead of Kessler on the depth chart.
The team recently spent a great deal of time touring the Pro Day circuit, holding workouts for all of the top quarterbacks on their stops along the way. They spent quality time with Sam Darnold in particular, who took over for Kessler at USC, but also worked out Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, and Baker Mayfield.
One of those quarterbacks will presumably have his name called on a card tied to the Browns, if not with the first-overall draft choice, then with the fourth. But the team has said that they would like to avoid throwing a rookie into the fire again, as they have the past two years.
That is why they restructured the quarterback room, placing a starter at the top and a veteran backup as well. Whomever they draft need not even dress for games, at least right away. But what we already do know is that their depth chart at the position will be completely different.