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Browns’ Draft Trade Shows Faith in RGIII

In what can only be described as an uncharacteristic change of pace, the Cleveland Browns could be content to leave next week’s NFL Draft in Chicago without a rookie quarterback on their roster.

The Browns were almost a certainty to take whoever was left out of Jared Goff and Carson Wentz with the second overall pick, but traded the spot to the Eagles and got bumped down to number eight in the process.

One would think that, if the Browns were walking into this draft with the intention of nabbing the franchise quarterback of the future – again – nothing would have convinced them to deal that pick. Now, at eighth overall, Cleveland is too far gone to hope either Goff or Wentz slide, and too close to the top to reach for a Paxton Lynch.

Or maybe, just maybe, the Browns are content to ride the year out with new signee Robert Griffin III and see exactly what they have in the forgotten talent. Let’s not forget, an ageing veteran Griffin is not. When healthy, he is a capable quarterback with the skill and arm to improve many a pro offense.

Still only 26, Griffin should comfortably be able to claim the starting role from fellow contenders Josh McCown, Austin Davis and Connor Shaw. If he can’t, well, there’s your first problem. But the Browns’ willingness to trade down and focus their efforts on filling a myriad other holes on their team apart from QB shows at least a fraction of faith in RGIII and what he can do.

Griffin still has much to learn in the way of sliding, giving up on plays and not trying to be Superman on every play. In the crash-and-bash AFC North, that attitude will get anyone who isn’t named Ben Roethlisberger an express ticket to the hospital.

With Griffin’s injury history a concern, it’s possible the Browns could take a serious look at Christian Hackenberg or Connor Cook on day two, or even take a flyer on Cardale Jones on day three. But the likelihood of any of those project prospects starting over RGIII is miniscule, and would render the Griffin experiment a failure before it even got started.

Robert needs at least a full season as the starter before he can officially be declared a bust. “Offseason” Browns and “mid-season” Browns are often two very different beasts, but at least they’ve taken the right first step.

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