2014 NFL Draft: Why the Cleveland Browns Should Target Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch

Updated: February 18, 2014

The fact that the Cleveland Browns have had their share of struggles when it comes to finding a quarterback is well-documented. Since 1999, the Browns have paraded out 20 different starting quarterbacks, and last season alone featured three different ones.

The 2013 season saw Cleveland use Brandon Weeden, Brian Hoyer and Jason Campbell en route to a disappointing 4-12 record. Hoyer accounted for three victories ( given credit for the victory against Buffalo) before falling victim to a torn ACL against the Buffalo Bills, but it is expected that he will return healthy in 2014.

Weeden is demanding a trade out of town, but it was not expected he would be back with the team this season as it was. Campbell will likely see the same fate, as his salary for next season is far too high for what he could deliver to the team in the way of ability.

The team still has former Monmouth University passer Alex Tanney, whom new general manager Ray Farmer was reportedly high on when the Browns acquired him from the Dallas Cowboys practice squad. When Farmer was the pro personnel director in Kansas City in 2012, the Chiefs organization signed Tanney as an undrafted free agent.

It remains to be seen if Tanney will make the 53-man roster, but the team will need to find more arms in the draft regardless. Most feel that the team will use the No. 4 pick on Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles or Johnny Manziel, while others feel they could use No. 26 on David Carr. If the team should wait to find their quarterback, they could go after the likes of Jimmy Garappolo, A.J. McCarron or Aaron Murray in the mid-rounds.

Having Hoyer allows the team to wait, if the previously mentioned trio at No. 4 does not entice them, but most fully expect them to have somebody by the time Day 2 of the draft ends. On Day 3 is when it could get interesting. On that day, a highly-athletic and intriguing option lies waiting to be selected. Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch.

It is no secret that Lynch is a developmental project, but his ability to make plays with the ball in his hands can’t go unnoticed. Lynch could be acquired anywhere between rounds five through seven, based on early projections, and he could be an immediate impact player to whoever drafts him.

Lynch has expressed his desire to remain a QB at the NFL level, but he is not opposed to playing other positions, as long as it is on the offensive side of the ball. Everything that fans hoped they could see Tim Tebow do from other positions on the field, is exactly why you will get out of Lynch. This is why the Browns should make a move to acquire him on Day 3 if he is still available.

Lynch can line up in Wildcat formations, as previously ran by former Browns player Josh Cribbs in recent years, but he can also add to the dynamic by slinging the ball on occasion. The team could also choose to line him up in the backfield as a running back, or give him the ball on an end-around from a wide receiver position. His explosiveness and playmaking add versatility to any playbook.

A Heisman Trophy candidate, Lynch knows what it takes to win. He’s a leader on the field and could quickly come in and make an impact, all while staying at the QB3 position on the roster. For such a low risk in the fifth or sixth round, the Browns get a long-term developmental passer and an offensive weapon that would allow Kyle Shanahan to really open up his bag of tricks.

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