Over the next three weeks, FishDuck.com Feature Writer Caleb Couturie will be analyzing the 25 teams in the NFL Draft that may look to select Marcus Mariota.
**DISCLAIMER: This is part of a project FOR FUN. All trades suggested are merely hypotheticals, and do not reflect my actual opinion of what will happen on draft day. Enjoy.**
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No. 11: The Cleveland Browns
CLE’s Draft Pick: Twelfth (and Nineteenth)
CLE’s 2015 Cap Space: $51,319,654
CLE’s Top Needs: ILB, RB, QB/DT
Johnny Manziel AND Marcus Mariota playing for the same team? Did Roger Goodell just have a wet dream? The answer to both of these questions is yes, folks! Two of the past three Heisman winners could very well end up playing for the same team, with the QB situation in Cleveland a mess as it stands currently. Cleveland has a ton of draft picks this year that they’d eagerly drop for a chance at a successful starting QB. Although the Browns have many needs on offense, especially considering the recent situation with Josh Gordon, QB has to be a priority. The Browns are a QB away from seriously contending, and as fun as it would be to watch Johnny Football be “that guy”, he simply isn’t.
HOW IT CAN HAPPEN:
Cleveland trades: the first round pick from 2014 Bills trade, their first round pick this year, fourth rounder from Bills trade, sixth rounder from 2014 Baltimore trade, 2016 first round pick, and 2016 third round pick.
Tampa Bay trades: 2015 No. 1 pick
Tampa Bay knows that this is a talented draft, especially deep at the skill player positions. Tampa Bay desperately wants to be able to contend, especially with Mike Evans blossoming in to a future star and a mature Vincent Jackson to guide the rookie sensation to success. Doug Martin still could be the stud we all saw his rookie season, and Gerald McCoy is one of the best interior D-linemen in the league. The NFC South is weak, at best, and Tampa is primed for a breakout season. More assets, especially to help build their defense, is exactly what they need. With the extra first round pick they could also take a shot at Brett Hundley who would be available as a mid-first rounder.
For Cleveland, they get the first pick and a shot at Mariota. They give up a lot of assets, yes, but they’re also a pretty well rounded team at this point. After years of rebuilding Cleveland is finally ready to take the next step. If they were sold enough on Johnny Football to take him last year, I can only imagine what the Browns’ organization thinks of Mariota. Basically a taller, more athletic version of Manziel, Mariota could actually bring palpable change to Cleveland.
HOW MARIOTA WOULD DO IN CLE:
Really hard to say with this one, honestly. It’s hard to imagine he and Johnny would get along, especially considering their wildly different personalities. Mike Pettine is a solid coach, but his background specializes in defense. If the Browns were to bring in Mariota, he’d have to work hard with his OC to develop plays and formations that played to Mariota’s strengths.
As for Mariota himself, the AFC North is a highly competitive division, so Mariota would certainly have to grow up quickly. The one thing the Browns have going for them is that they are certainly a run-heavy offense. Taking the pressure off of Mariota and not forcing him to throw 40 some odd passes per game would definitely help him adapt to the league, and would most likely allow for a more successful future. Initially, Mariota wouldn’t have that many weapons either. Jordan Cameron is a weapon a lot of teams would kill for, but outside of that the pickings are pretty slim. The Browns would most likely need to spend a high draft pick on a WR.
WOULD HE START?:
Extremely doubtful. Pettine certainly won’t give him the nod over Brian Hoyer, if the Browns keep him, and I still believe Manziel has the ability to turn his career around. In short, Mariota would and should start the season as the third QB on the depth chart. Assuming Hoyer stinks it up after a bit, which is certainly likely, and if Manziel can’t figure out his footwork and mechanics, Mariota could eventually get the nod. That would almost definitely be later in the season though, if at all.
CLE’s Projected Record with Mariota: 9-7
CLE’s Projected Record W/O Mariota: 8-8
Mariota’s first year stats: 1,000 yards/8 pass TDS/3 Ints/4 Rushing TDs
Top photo from en.wikipedia.org