After watching the quarterback clinic that Robert Griffin III pulled off in his first Thanksgiving day game I feel it makes sense to point out that skipping on a single pick that the Redskins wanted was a huge mistake for Cleveland. RG3 lit up the Cowboys defense going 20-28 for 311 yards, 4 TDs and 1 INT. He was sacked 4 times, mostly during the Cowboys attempt at a comeback where the Redskins offense stalled. Griffin III was on fire most of the game though and so far through the season has proved to be elusive, but errs on the side of safety. He avoids taking big hits as often as possible, they are not always avoidable, but he does his best to not force himself to run the ball. He is a quarterback unlike Michael Vick when he came out of college. Watching his season unfold in front of our eyes shows me simply, the Browns made a mistake.
This is not to say that Trent Richardson was not a worthwhile pick, in fact he is very talented. Skipping on a franchise quarterback like Griffin III though can be permanently damning. Griffin’s numbers on the year are astounding for a rookie. Through 11 games he has posted a quarterback rating of 104.6, 67.5% completion, 16 passing TDs, 4 INTs, 6 rushing TDs and 2 fumbles lost. Those numbers are worthy of top quarterback status in the NFL. Griffin III does what quarterbacks of his stature and style usually have issues doing, being accurate. Completing nearly 70% of his passes puts him up there with Brady and Manning as far as accuracy is concerned and his passing placement is extraordinary. I reference his touchdown pass to Santana Moss against Dallas when he hit a turning Moss perfectly in the chest in the front corner of the end zone where only Moss had a chance to catch it. A beautiful pass and a great touchdown.
My other point is that Griffin arguably does not have a good receiving corps. With Santana Moss and Leonard Hankerson as his primary and secondary options it leaves a lot to be desired. Big free agent pick up Pierre Garcon has still yet to live up to his giant deal and Josh Morgan is nothing more than a journeymen 4th string wide out. Is it still slightly better than the Cleveland Browns? Yes. Not by too much though. Note also that Alfred Morris has 200 more yards rushing and 1 more rushing touchdown than Trent Richardson. Yes this comes into that the Browns are constantly down in games, but Morris is a churning runner and very effective and is only a 6th round pick compared to the number 4 pick overall that Richardson was.
Can Richardson end up being like Adrian Peterson? Yes definitely, but look where that has gotten the Vikings? The only chance they really had was with Brett Favre having an epic golden year, beyond that the Vikings were an average team with a fantastic talent playing running back. A running back is useless if the offense cannot pass and with the long list of former starting quarterbacks of the Browns, stability is key. Brandon Weeden is not terrible, but he is not the future of this franchise. He has less than 10 years for his career in the NFL and I am being generous there. Richardson could be the next Barry Sanders and it doesn’t matter as long as the Browns are still quarterback-less.
The quarterback situation will not be fixed in 2013 and probably not in 2014 either. The Browns are never bad enough to get the pick they need, they are always just outside the spot they need to be in. Nowadays you need a top level starting quarterback and busting on this position is not just bad, but can destroy your franchise. Look at the Jaguars with Blaine Gabbert. Gabbert is not NFL caliber and it is obvious to even the least knowledgeable of fans. Mark Sanchez left a year too early in my opinion and while yes the entire Jets team is a letdown and debacle, Sanchez has been especially bad. A quarterback holds back a team or makes it progress quicker. I feel that Robert Griffin III is an exceptional athlete and quarterback and that if the Browns would have anted up a little more and gotten him, their team would have a better chance at a successful future or at least a chance of real tangible hope. Then again with Pat Shurmur, you never know.