2013 NFL Draft: What Will the Cleveland Browns do if Geno Smith is Available at No. 6?

By
Updated: March 3, 2013

By Bob Evans
Senior Writer

The closer the Cleveland Browns come to the 2013 NFL Draft and the beginning of free agency, the more and more the rumor mills have heated up regarding the team’s starting quarterback situation. From Alex Smith (now on his way to Kansas City) to Geno Smith, pick any of the quarterbacks out there and chances are they have been connected to the Cleveland Browns in some way.

Will Michael Lombardi Move on from Brandon Weeden if Geno Smith is Available?

Earlier this week the Ryan Mallett rumors resurfaced, and while the Michael Lombardi connection with the New England Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick will always be out there, that is a move this writer just doesn’t see happening. While my preference is for the Browns to give Brandon Weeden another year in a system better suited for his skill-set, the team may have a difficult decision to make when it is their turn to step to the podium at No. 6 at the end of April.

The assumption since the end of the season was that the highly touted quarterback from West Virginia would go No. 1 overall to the quarterback-needy Kansas City Chiefs. Now that they have agreed to a deal with the San Francisco 49ers for their former No. 1 overall pick, it seems they will go a different direction.

With the Chiefs suddenly out of the picture, the big question is which team will be the first to select a quarterback in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Usually there is a logical answer to this question, as there are a number of teams that could use an upgrade at the quarterback position. However, the only team picking ahead of the Browns with a major need at quarterback is the Jacksonville Jaguars—and they have been rumored to be more inclined to go defense at No. 2, according to reports.

The Oakland Raiders own the No. 3 pick, but they just gave up a lot for Carson Palmer—which means he will likely get another shot (although Pro Football Talk says differently). The Eagles are picking No. 4 (Michael Vick) and Lions picking No. 5 (Matthew Stafford) and the chances of either of them selecting Smith are very slim.

This means that if the Cleveland Browns truly believe Smith is better than Weeden—barring a trade—the highly cerebral quarterback could be Cleveland’s for the taking. With this all in mind, what should the Browns do if this scenario happens?

First off, hopefully the Browns’ brain trust has already realized the potential situation they will be in leading up to draft day. Sitting at No. 6, they will have the opportunity to answer the question of will Weeden be the team’s opening day starter—but they better not let the cat out of the bag until they step to the podium because this could also be a major trade opportunity for the Browns’ brass.

Teams like the Arizona Cardinals and Buffalo Bills are currently sitting right behind the Browns in the draft; and enough smoke screens could force one of these teams to call up the Browns to secure Smith if he is the player they desire. But if the Browns let it known they covet Smith too much, any one of those teams siting Nos. 1-5 could end up being a potential trade candidate for a quarterback-needy team.

Now that we have the potential scenarios in mind, let’s discuss whether or not the Browns should select Smith if he falls to No. 6.

Standing 6’2” and 218 pounds, despite running a 4.59 40-yard dash at the combine, Smith is far from a scrambling quarterback. His eyes are always down the field, scanning and going through progressions in order to locate the first available open receiver. At West Virginia, this player was often Tavon Austin—which means any team drafting him better have a major safety net for Smith underneath.

Like Weeden, Smith comes from a pass-happy, spread offense under head coach Dana Holgorsen. This means Smith could likely have similar issues when translating his game from taking all of his snaps from the shotgun—something that plagued Weeden last year, causing a number of passes to be batted down thanks to throwing from an unfamiliar position closer to the line of scrimmage.

There is no doubt Smith put up some eye-popping numbers while starting for West Virginia. At the beginning of the 2012 season he seemed to be a Heisman Trophy lock, as he completed 81.4 percent of his passes, threw 24 touchdowns and zero interceptions though his first five games of the season. He also shredded Clemson in the Orange Bowl to the tune of 400-plus yards and six touchdowns.

During his junior and senior seasons, Smith accumulated over 8,500 yards passing, 73 touchdowns and just 13 interceptions. His senior campaign he finished with a 71.2 completion percentage.

With numbers like those, one has to wonder why teams aren’t lining up to land Smith early in the first round of the draft. Well, his game does not come without faults, that’s why.

After starting out 5-0 against lesser opponents, Smith and the Mountaineers looked lost during a five-game losing streak. For the first three games of the losing streak, Smith completed less than 60 percent of his passes twice, did not throw for more than 280 yards in a game and also threw three interceptions. His mechanics seemed to change during this span, and he struggled doing the things he did well early in the season.

While he did not look great during this spans, he looked like an improved man toward the end of the season and in the offseason—but not enough to make people believe he is worthy of a Top 10 selection. Herein lies my problem with Smith to the Browns at No. 6.

Without a second-round selection in the draft, the Cleveland Browns need an absolute grand slam of a pick if they stand pat at No. 6. This player—no matter which side of the ball he is on—has to be good enough to justify not upgrading a starter at another position of need since they team will not be able to add another starting caliber player in the second round. And while Smith (since he is much younger than Weeden) will likely be the better quarterback down the road, he does not pose enough of an upgrade next year for this writer to not land one of a number of impact defensive players in this draft.

Could this situation change if the Browns swing all of their salary cap into two impact, starting outside linebackers and a starting cornerback in free agency? Absolutely, but as the roster is composed right now this writer has to just say no on Geno.

Follow Buckeye State Sports on Twitter @BuckeyeStSports
Follow Bob Evans on Twitter @TheRealBobEvans
“Like” Buckeye State Sports on Facebook!

Related Articles on Buckeye State Sports:

NFL Scouting Combine: Cleveland Browns Need their Eyes on Fresno State FS Phillip Thomas

NFL Scouting Combine: Could Cleveland Browns Look at Workout Warrior TE Chris Gragg?

Cleveland Browns Rumors: The Likelihood of Patriots QB Ryan Mallett to Cleveland

Share Button

4 Comments

  1. Briann

    March 18, 2013 at 11:11 am

    Dont worry, If Geno Smith is still there at #6 the Browns front office is not smart enough to take him! I watched Geno all of last season and he is the real deal! As a Browns fan weeden just doesnt get it, and his years are numbered! Smith is a great pick if he is still there at #6

  2. MJM

    March 5, 2013 at 8:51 am

    Hey Scoot,

    Not sure why you think Geno Smith is a lock for the Pro Bowl many times. He has not even played one down in the much faster, tougher, NFL. And in college, especially last year, he had a very spotty record.

    Yes, he is intriguing, but all indications are that Weeden, who was the darling of so many other Browns fans last year during training camp, may have a great chance to excel given he now has coaches who have a clue how to use him. PLUS he will have two receivers with a year or two of experience, PLUS a right tackle who came off a spectacular rookie season and will only get better, PLUS a healthy running back in Trent Richardson, PLUS a cornerback who we hope will not do something stupid again and miss the first four game sof the season.

    Many seems to hold the position that since Weeden did not take us deep into the playoffs his rookie year, despite all above issues, he ought to be tossed aside for yet another NEW rookie QB who will need to go through ALL the same training process that Weeden had to go through last year.

    With all the other needs the Browns have, this team does not need to utilize a high draft pick on a position that we might already have adequately covered. And after again reviewing Lombardi’s many drafts, while I continue to have absolutely no faith that he has the football intellect to even give us even an average draft, I believe that the players presently on this roster will, with even one player contributing from the draft, and with a quality FA, provide a year or two of competitive play.

    So while Smith might truly develop in a quality QB some day, I don’t believe that this team, and especially its fan base, will want to wait while he develops. I know the fans, who typically give a QB, even a rookie, not more than eight games to prove he is the next Joe Montana, will have not any patience whatsoever if he comes to this team and throws an interception.

    I for one, don’t need to go through that, yet again, next year. The Browns will have a lot of pieces coming together on offense, and they don’t need to start training another rookie QB.

  3. Bob Evans

    March 3, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    When did I say anything about Smith not being a pocket passer? From the film study I have done on Smith during his collegiate career, I stated he spent very little time under center. So please do not try to put words in my mouth, my comment was that as a QB coming from a spread offense in college, he would likely struggle with the transition back under center…something that pretty much every spread offense QB has struggled with since coming to the NFL–with the exception of Griffin III last year.

    What does the pistol offense have anything to do with the Cleveland Browns and Norv Turner’s Air Coryell system? Since that will be the type of offensive system any QB for the Browns next season would have to run. And for the record, Russell Wilson was a pocket passer at Wisconsin, Griffin III ran a spread at Baylor with a lot of pocket work. As for Kaepernick, I will not claim to be an expert on his game because I did not study him at Nevada.

    I am not the only person that has question marks on Geno Smith, so with all due respect when my opinion and film study matches that of scouts and respected media members…forgive me if your attacks don’t really cause me to lose sleep.

  4. Scoot

    March 3, 2013 at 9:38 am

    I like how people write articles and know nothing about who they are writing on. This writer knows nothing. Geno was a really good QB before Dana came to town . He was a pocket passer who worked from under center. He threw more with Dana and out of the pistol so of course the stats go up. Last I checked Redskins, Niners and Seahawks all made play-offs with young Qb’s who run the pistol so he can run a Nfl offense. Seeing how he knows both the pistol and a pro-style he is above average of a rookie coming into the league. The Browns have Weeden ? Really? If Browns pass if Geno is their it just shows why this franchise will never be what they were the first time around.. So Browns pass if Geno is their and regret every moment when he becomes a Pro-Bowler elsewhere. Doubt he even drops to 6 in the first place.

Join the Conversation