May 11, 2012; Berea, OH, USA: Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden (3) works out during rookie training camp at the Cleveland Browns training facility. Mandatory Credit: Eric P. Mull-USPRESSWIRE
The Browns failed to move up in the draft to get to a spot where they could take QB Robert Griffin III, instead, swinging a deal with Minnesota to ensure they could get RB Trent Richardson. Their other first round pick was Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden.
They've also since spent next year's second round pick on troubled WR Josh Gordon, confirming the Browns' front office saw what the rest of the league did - they had a disturbing lack of playmakers on the offensive side of the ball.
Even with these upgrades - Richardson hasn't practiced much since undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his knee this preseason, Gordon averaged 17.5 yards a catch through preseason, and Weeden had three turnovers (two lost fumbles and an interception) - the Browns offense shouldn't expect a big boost this year.
Maybe in the future, but success now, historically, won't come to the rookie quarterback.
ESPN's Jamison Hensely pointed out rookie quarterbacks are 51-95 combined over the last three years, a stat skewed by the fact rookie quarterbacks are typically starting for teams that aren't any good in lots of places besides the passer. But their individual success shows a huge gap between the studs (Cam Newton, Sam Bradford) and the guys coming into their own (Christian Ponder, Blaine Gabbert).
It's a bit simplistic, but unless they were the first overall pick, like Newton and Bradford, they struggled if they even played their first year.
Projecting along those lines is more convenient than it's scientific, though. Cleveland's AFC North rivals, Pittsburgh (Ben Roethlisberger), Baltimore (Joe Flacco) and Cincinnati (Andy Dalton) all made the playoffs in the rookie years of their current starting quarterbacks, and Baltimore and Pittsburgh advanced to the conference championship games in those years (Pittsburgh lost to New England in 2004, Baltimore lost to Pittsburgh in 2008).
The Steelers were coming off a disappointing 2003 season where they underachieved as a whole, and their 15-1 2004 season marked one of the biggest turnarounds in franchise history. Roethlisberger certainly contributed to that, but he wasn't the focal point of the team. Likewise with Baltimore, Flacco didn't lose games for them, whereas another quarterback may have in the same situation.
Weeden does not seem to have that kind of a team around him, and his inexperience as a pro quarterback is likely to be intensified by that.
Weirder things have happened, but it seems Cleveland is headed for another 11+ loss season (it would be their fifth in a row), but the franchise is establishing a base of offensive help to go along what was a fairly underrated defense in 2010.
For more on the Cleveland Browns, read Dawgs By Nature on SB Nation.
AFC North Preview: Are Bengals Poised to Leap Past Steelers and Ravens? (via sbnation)