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Browns Mailbag: Is a running back in the modern NFL worth the No. 1 pick?

Posted Jan 5, 2018

Senior Writer Andrew Gribble answers your questions every week

We’re on to 2018 with four of your questions for the first Browns Mailbag of the year.

We have seen teams go 3-13 and turn around next year to 13-3. Let's hope for 15-1!!! I have a lot of excitement around where we are going next year. It does hinge around Dorsey bringing in a veteran quarterback. But after that let's roll! I know you keep talking praise about Kizer but in addition to ratings, yards, INTs, and other stats, you have to ask did he win a game. Great quarterbacks find a way to win the game with good or bad stats. Explain how this looks on Kizer and what you think. -- James S., Hamilton

“QB wins” is a debatable statistic because as important as the quarterback is, it takes a full offense, defense and special teams to win a game in the NFL. That said, there are moments within a game and a season when it’s on the quarterback to shoulder the load, put the team on his back and lead them to a victory. That’s just the job. Kizer didn’t run away from that responsibility, even after he finished his rookie season without a win.

“It’s a tough spot to be in and I’m the one that is quarterbacking them,” Kizer said after Sunday’s loss to the Steelers. “We had a little success in the preseason. It’s going to be tough to swallow. You can trust that this is going to be the most important year of my life. I think that it’s going to be the driving factor that allows me to be the best quarterback that I can become and lead Cleveland to some of the most success that it has ever had.”

It’s become abundantly clear since general manager John Dorsey’s arrival that the Browns are going to address the quarterback position during the offseason, perhaps in multiple ways. Kizer, though, remains part of the plan, and he’ll have a chance to compete to retain his job.

“We will look to add people at the quarterback position, as well, just like any other position on our team,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “At the same time, there is a lot of experience and growth that he had this year because he went through the whole season for the most part that he is going to be able to grow from in the offseason. I think that will be important for him.”

Would it be out of the question for the Browns to forget drafting a QB in the first round and trade for an experienced QB? Ex: Jacoby Brissett, Sam Bradford, Kirk Cousins. Then grab a RB and offensive lineman to help immediately? -- Jay M., Ventura, California

It all depends on the kind of quarterback you’re talking. If it’s a veteran you project to be “the guy” for years to come, then yes, it’d probably be safe to look at other positions with those picks. Otherwise, considering the depth of this quarterback class, the uncertainty of Cleveland’s current quarterback room and the ability to land a signal-caller earlier in the draft than it has since 1999, it’s hard to avoid giving heavy consideration to a quarterback at No. 1 or No. 4. Said simpler: The addition of a veteran from the potential pool of free agents and tradable commodities available to the Browns in the coming months would not preclude the Browns from drafting a quarterback in the first round.

Taking Saquon Barkley with the first pick and a QB with the fourth seems to be a safer option, does it not? Barkley will make any of the top QB’s better and there will be plenty to choose from at 4! Or maybe sign someone like AJ (McCarron) in free agency with some of the big cap money? Your thoughts PLEASE!! -- Kevin H., Bend, Oregon

As much as I like Barkley, I’d consider that strategy to be the antithesis of safe. If you know you’re using one of those picks on a quarterback, and you’ve identified a quarterback you want the most, it’s a risky proposition to draft a non-quarterback at No. 1 and cross your fingers while you wait to pick again at No. 4. The Giants, at No. 2, are certainly in the market for a quarterback. And even though the Colts, at No. 3, don’t seem to be in the market for one, it doesn’t mean they’ll be the one making that pick. All three of the teams that selected quarterbacks in last year’s first round traded up into the spot at which they did it. That includes the Chiefs, where current Browns general manager John Dorsey moved from No. 27 to No. 10 to take Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes. In the process, it probably threw off the projections of many teams below the 10th pick.

As for McCarron, he’ll find out whether he’s a restricted or unrestricted free agent at a Feb. 15 hearing. That’s a big deal. If he’s restricted, it could cost a team as much as a second-round pick to sign him away from the Bengals.

Do you see Jabrill Peppers as a future starter at either one of the safety spots? -- Rusty S., Columbus

Peppers will be the first to admit he had an up and down season as he adjusted to life in the NFL. He gained valuable experience along the way and had one of his best performances of the season Week 17, when he collected his first interception and was around the ball all throughout the game. The Browns are likely to address the safety position during the offseason, but it’s safe to figure Peppers will be right there in the mix at one of the spots.

“I missed a lot of routine plays, tackles that need to be tackles. Didn’t really have enough impact plays. Didn’t do what I wanted to do in the return game. The list goes on, but trial and error,” Peppers said. “I think I pretty much got what works for me and won’t feel this way by next year.”

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