The Eagles announced on Monday that Carson Wentz will start the season as the team’s No. 1 quarterback. The Browns should be happy about that.
Monday’s news resulted in new attention being given to a July article from Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com with quotes from Cleveland’s chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta regarding the importance of quarterbacks in pro football. Along the way, DePodesta justified the decision to trade down from the No. 2 spot in the draft, where the Eagles acquired Wentz, by explaining that the Browns didn’t regard Wentz as one of the top 20 quarterbacks in the league.
“We have to make judgments on the individual players and we’re not always going to be right,” DePodesta told Grossi. “But in this particular case, we just didn’t feel it was necessarily the right bet to make for us at this time. Again, it comes down to individual evaluation of a player. We will not always be right on those type of things.
“I think the hardest part, and where we have to stay the most disciplined, as much as you want a player, you can’t invent him if he doesn’t exist. In a given year, there may be two or three NFL-ready quarterbacks at the college level. In another year, there literally may be zero. There just may be not be anybody in that year who’s good enough to be a top-20 quarterback in the NFL.
“Even though you have a desperate need for one, you have to resist the temptation of taking that guy just because you have a need if you don’t believe he’s one of those 20 guys at the end of the day. I think that’s the hardest part, just maintaining your discipline because you have the need. That’s what we did this year.”
Along with entrusting the Cleveland starting job to Robert Griffin III, the decisions made and not made by the Browns at the quarterback position will become the first litmus test for the team’s new approach to the construction of a football team. And that litmus test commences by putting Griffin on the field against Wentz and the Eagles.
Wentz surely has his hands sufficiently full as he prepares for his first NFL start to notice or to care about the assessment from his first NFL opponent in a game that counts. Still, it spices up a game that potentially will pit teams destined for the first two picks in next year’s draft — which means, given the trade that brought Wentz to Philadelphia, that the Browns will be making both of those picks, in Philadelphia.