Unlike UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen, who has indicated he would rather be taken low in the draft than be taken by the Cleveland Browns, USC quarterback Sam Darnold has indicated he’d be happy to be drafted by any team, including the Browns.
“Whenever I come out to go to the NFL, I think I’d be honored to play for any team,” Darnold said Wednesday. “It’s been a dream of mine for such a long time to play in the NFL. Any team that would want to give me that opportunity to be a part of their organization, it would mean the world to me.”
This shows a profound lack of judgment, and should scare the Browns away from drafting him.
I know what you’re gonna say. Anybody should be grateful for the opportunity to play in the NFL, even if that opportunity is for the Cleveland Browns, at the quarterback position. And, sure, theoretically I’m with you. Of course you and I would be happy to play quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, but that’s because we aren’t professional quarterbacks, and we have nothing to lose.
Darnold’s situation is much different. His situation is real. He has the physical tools to enjoy a long and prosperous NFL career, and yet he seems ready to throw it all away by signing a contract with the Cleveland Browns.
The Browns have started 29 quarterbacks in the last 10 years. Three of them have been Heisman winners (Robert Griffin, Johnny Manziel, Colt McCoy), several have been wily veterans (Josh McCown, Jason Campbell, Derek Anderson, Seneca Wallace), one started a Super Bowl (Jake Delhomme), and four have been first-round draft picks (Manziel, Griffin, Brandon Weeden and Brady Quinn).
All of these quarterbacks failed, often rapidly and spectacularly, and with such a large sample size — three starters a year for 10 years! — I have to ask Sam Darnold the same rhetorical question I’d ask a buddy who started seeing a woman who’d been engaged 29 times in 10 years:
What is the common denominator in all these debacles?
It makes sense for somebody like Brian Hoyer or Brock Osweiler to sign with the Browns. It’s a job, they’re not getting a lot of offers, and they can no longer trade on potential. But Darnold, like Rosen and any other highly touted quarterback, actually has some leverage. They may have to sacrifice some money up front to avoid going to Cleveland, but when it comes time to negotiate that second contract, some of these guys would be better off having been a backup to, say, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees, than an on-again/off-again starter for the worst franchise in the league.
Josh Rosen understands this, and the fact that Sam Darnold doesn’t is all the reason the Browns should need to pass on him.