Worst team pick – QB: Cleveland Blew this pick

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Now that the Super Bowl is over, the NFL world is caught up in draft hype. Our Cleveland Browns are at the forefront of the discussion; they hold two first-round picks, including the #4 overall. Most everyone thinks they will use that first pick on a quarterback. Many believe that pick will be Johnny Manziel. In Manziel, the Browns would have a high-risk, high-reward option. He could be a superstar from day-one in the NFL, and lead the team that picks him to the playoffs. On the other hand, he could be an ineffective bust who only stays in the NFL for a couple of years.

The Browns are no stranger to a first-round draft pick being a bust. And Cleveland’s all-time biggest bust at the quarterback position (if not ever) is Tim Couch. Couch was drafted with the first overall pick in the 1999 NFL draft, and was highly anticipated as a franchise quarterback. He had the size and the college repertoire of a potential star QB, setting SEC passing records that stood for years. After he was drafted, he almost immediately was put into the starting quarterback role.

And there, he fell completely flat. He played five years for the Browns, only making 62 starts due to multiple injuries. In his Browns career, he averaged 2,200 yards and a 59.8% completion percentage per season. Even worse is his touchdown/interception ratio: in those 5 years, he threw 64 TD’s and 67 INT’s. Finally, his career passer rating was 75.1. Couch was squarely in the mediocre-to-bad range until (at the behest of angry fans), the Browns released Couch after the 2003 season.

Adding insult to injury, Couch attempted to make several comebacks in the NFL, being signed briefly by both the Green Bay Packers and Jacksonville Jaguars as quarterback depth. Neither team wanted him beyond the preseason. In between those stints, he unsuccessfully auditioned for several other teams as well. The bottom of his plummet came when he tested positive for both anabolic steroids and human growth hormone in 2007. That’s right, he was cheating and still couldn’t be a backup QB in the NFL. A #1 overall draft pick.

I write this as a cautionary tale – even a high draft pick quarterback is a risk. They don’t always turn out to be players of Cam Newton or Andrew Luck stature. In fact, there’s no guarantee that they will even be decent like Alex Smith or RG3. The fascinating thing is that there is really no way to ensure, with absolute certainty, that a college quarterback will pan out in the NFL. There are ways to improve the crapshoot that is evaluating talent (the combine isn’t for nothing), but as long as there is a draft, there will be busts like Tim Couch. It’s simply a matter of doing the best possible evaluation while getting a little bit of luck.

I’m not saying that Manziel will be a bust – I think he’s the second best quarterback in this upcoming draft. But we can never be certain, and the people making the drafting decisions in Cleveland had better do their research on this one. The last thing the Browns need is another Tim Couch.

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  • JohnnyV

    In fareness to Tim Couch Eric, he got the dayligths beat out of him nearly every week. Few if any can withstand that kind of punishment. Blake Bortles has everything except the big time schedule playing in the AAC. I’m hoping the Browns take him if he’s available.

    • tigersbrowns2

      here, here JOHNNYV … i felt bad for couch too.

  • tigersbrowns2

    okay , you’re a expansion franchise … do you take a QB with the number 1 overall pick ? or do you build-up the o-line & d-line first ?? i am a pretty positive browns fan … but , we start in 1999 with policy & clark & i’m thinkin’ “okay , these guys know what they’re doing … 49ers were a great dynasty when they were there” … nothin’ !! then , we try it the patriot way with pioli , crennel & others … and , once again , good organization , great dynasty … surely these guys know what they’re doing … nothing !! then holmgren comes in … surely here’s a guy who knows what he’s doing & he’ll turn it around … once again , nothin’ !! and he drafted both t-rich & weeden in the first round. i would definitely say weeden is the biggest bust , not couch.

    let’s hope the “steagles” way works for us a little better than the past regimes as i consider this THE biggest off-season since 1999 … let’s hope they get it right.

  • Eric Johnson

    Fair point, Johnny. Bortles would be a solid option…but his loss of confidence under pressure scares me a little bit.

  • tigersbrowns2

    say what you want about manziel … but , he will bring some attitude , leadership & play-making ability to this team. not to mention , he’ll put butts in the stands. i am okay with whoever they end-up taking at QB in this draft , just don’t sell manziel short.

    • Kevin Gillikin

      I’m a Manziel guy all the way as you guys probably already know! GO JOHNNY FOOTBALL!

  • tigersbrowns2

    … and if manziel is the 2nd best QB in this draft , how can he be a bust ??

  • tigersbrowns2

    this was good read , BTW … many browns fans are divided about taking a QB at # 4 overall.

  • Eric Johnson

    Haha, thanks TigerBrowns. I was not implying that Manziel would be a bust (2nd best QB in a good QB draft). I just want to point out that busts do happen, and that anyone could be a bust, including Manziel.

  • Camron moss

    why shouldn’t the browns take bridgewater he has the big arm he can make all the nfl throws

    • Eric Johnson

      Bridgewater is my #1 QB in the draft. The problem is that he’ll likely be taken before the Browns can get to him.

  • BuckOhio

    Good thing this article is one man’s opinion, because it is way off base. Probably the most competitive QB we have had since the rebirth, but no OL, poor planning, and game execution. Have a cup of coffee before your next opinion is written.

  • SFCMcDaniel

    Courtney Brown dumbass

  • Gilbs

    Couch was not the worst pick. I still maintain that if there was any semblence of talent around him, and he was not a pinata for the d-line every week, he had the talent to succeed. Tim Couch did not ruin the Browns, that Browns team ruined Tim Couch. By the time he tried elsewhere he had multiple shoulder surgeries and zero confidence left. I feel bad for him. Our team now, say what you will, would beat the team he walked onto by 20 points. It was that bad…